THIS year’s Royal meeting couldn’t kick off with a much bigger bang than Frankel in tomorrow’s opening Queen Anne Stakes, but that race is immediately followed by two other Group One contests. We’ll be taking a detailed look at the card in tomorrow’s newspaper and will concentrate on trying to unearth some interesting special bets today.
The top jockey market is much more my cup of tea than the colour of the Queen’s hat and I’m keen to oppose the current favourite, Joseph O’Brien, who is as short as 6/4. The angel-faced assassin has had a season to remember and he is understandably high up the list with the firepower Ballydoyle have at their disposal. However, he will miss out on Fame And Glory, perhaps the stable’s biggest banker of the meeting, and he is yet to win a race at this unique course.
Richard Hughes is always to be feared at this meeting and he will have the pick of Richard Hannon’s two-year-olds. That said, there doesn’t appear to be a certainty like Canford Cliffs in their squad this time and although I expect him to ride plenty of placed finishes, winners may be hard to come by.
If Ryan Moore can stay injury free this season, he will surely claim his jockey’s title back, but this week could be difficult for him. O’Brien will be taking the big Coolmore rides and with Sir Michael Stoute still struggling for winners, Moore is passed over at 4/1.
The one jockey who I still feel is overpriced at the moment is WILLIAM BUICK and the 10/1 available with Ladbrokes should be snapped up. No one is riding better than the 23-year-old at the moment and John Gosden’s stable continues to be in red hot form. Buick will also pick up some decent spare rides and he has a solid chance of picking up three or four winners, which could be enough to land the prize.
Of the others, Johnny Murtagh has to be of interest, as he is often the go-to man for a number of top British trainers. He rides the track brilliantly, but he won’t have as strong a book of rides as in previous years. Tom Queally will surely be on the board after Frankel does the business in the opener and quotes of 20/1 may slightly underestimate his chances.
The top trainer market doesn’t look quite as open, as Aidan O’Brien should be pretty difficult to beat. He’s as short as 4/6 and, although I wouldn’t be taking that price, I’m struggling to find one to oppose him with. Champion trainer Richard Hannon is next best at 5/2, but that isn’t big enough to tempt me. Gosden is slightly interesting at 10/1 with William Hill and if I was to have a bet on this market it would be him.
There is still plenty of uncertainty over ground conditions and with rain forecast over the next couple of days, ante-post betting at this late stage can be a dangerous pastime. That said, I think there is value in backing French raider MOONLIGHT CLOUD each-way at 15/2 with Paddy Power for Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Black Caviar will take plenty of stopping, but Freddie Head’s French raider is pretty smart in her own right and can shake-up the Aussie sprint sensation.
Don’t forget we will be back every day this week with in-depth Royal Ascot coverage and you can also follow me on Twitter @BillEsdaile.
William Buick top jockey at 10/1 with Ladbrokes
Moonlight Cloud e/w 15/2 with Paddy Power Diamond Jubilee, Saturday