Royal Ascot Day One 2020 Preview

Mogul (Creds Luke Keena)

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22) and Niamh Townsend (@NiamhTownsend)
Royal Ascot 2020 will go down in history as the year when there were no crowds, no pageantry, no royal parade – just the horse racing. To some racing fans, this is ideal but Royal Ascot isn’t just a race meeting – it’s an occasion. I have read in the lead up to this year’s festival the cynics of twitter saying Royal Ascot fuels the stereotype of horse racing being purely for the rich.
But we know that isn’t the case. One of the big races of the week is going to be Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs because of bargain buy Sceptical looking for Group One glory. It’s the stories that make Royal Ascot so special and, yes, it’s not going to be the same as normal but we’ve got some incredible racing to look forward to over the next five days.
Day One’s highlight is the group one King’s Stand Stakes over five furlongs for the speedsters. Battaash is a lot of people’s idea of the winner as, despite being quirky, he’s one of the fasted horses in the world but he’ll have a battle on his hooves against the fillies, Liberty Beach and Glass Slippers.
The team at Rein It In Racing previewed the Tuesday and Wednesday cards in our brand new podcast which you can listen to here –
Niamh and I have put together this comprehensive preview of the Tuesday card.
Race 1 – Buckingham Palace Handicap
Samantha says…
The maximum number of runners (twenty-four) go to post for this opening handicap over seven furlongs. My eye was drawn to Documenting at first. The seven-year-old ran a good race on seasonal reappearance but appears to be a bit of an all-weather specialist. I’m going with GIFTED MASTER to wind back the years. He won the Stewards Cup under Jason Watson in 2018 off a mark of 111. He’s now dropped to 104. On his peak, he’s a classy individual and has a capable pilot in 3lbs claimer Gabriele Malune on board. He’s 33/1. Daarik is the favourite for Frankie Dettori and John Gosden, which will be a common occurrence through the week. He won ten days ago and ran well on both starts last term. Kaeso is second best in the market with Oisin Murphy on board. He followed in Daarik last time but was second over course and distance on his final start of 2019. First Contact won a listed race in September 2018 but hasn’t won since. He came third in a group one in Meydan in March 2019 so he is capable.
Niamh says…
A tricky contest to kick the Royal Meeting off this year. MUTAMAASIK caught my eye straight away; he is lightly raced and has only progressed nicely through the ranks since his sole defeat on debut. This is his return after a break, but I wouldn’t be too concerned with the lack of a prep run since those who have run since racing returned will have a very quick turnaround this week. Mutamaasik has won on good to firm ground before, which you can expect to see at Ascot this week due to the continued dry weather, so that won’t be a problem and he stayed on really well when he won last time out which gives the impression that the uphill finish at Ascot will suit him well. Another I was drawn to was Lethal Lunch for Clive Cox who I think is a nice each way selection. He has a nice low weight but has a lot of good form in the book, running well towards the end of last season when he won a Class 2 Handicap at Chelmsford and was 2nd when last seen. He looks like a consistent type and won at Ascot as a 2 year old, the tongue strap goes on which could eek out more improvement.
Race 2 – Queen Anne Stakes (Group One)
Samantha says….
This is the first group one of the week. Hamdan Al Maktoum has three runners in this – Mustashry, Mohaather and Turjomaan. The former won the Lockinge Stakes on his second start last year and was seventh in this race next time out. After a defeat by Enable, he won a group two at Newmarket and he’s one of the highest rated milers. Mohaather won the Greenham Stakes off the back of a long absence last season but wasn’t seen until finishing fifth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, with Accidental Agent eleventh. Turjomaan should be three from four but was disqualified on debut. He then won at Newcastle twice before finishing second to Duke Of Hazzard in a group three at Goodwood.
With Circus Maximus the probable favourite, I think DUKE OF HAZZARD is a good way to go. He came good at the backend of last year winning a listed, group three and group two so he only needs a group one to complete the collection. He’s got much more to come as a four year old for the new combination of Paul & Oliver Cole. Circus Maximus was sixth in the Derby before being dropped in the trip to win the St James’ Palace. He won the Prix du Moulin, meaning he’s got a live chance.
Terebellum will be one of the favourites after a smart run in the Dahlia Stakes. She was a group two winner in France last season but is dropping back to the mile. Billesdon Brook won the 2018 1000 Guineas. Last season, she won a listed, group three and the group one Sun Chariot, before coming second to Nazeef, who is the well-fancied favourite of the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes later in the card.
Fox Chairman has ran just the four times, but he followed in Circus Maximus at Chester last season. Plumatic is interesting after finishing second in a group three last time. He followed in Miss O Connor on his penultimate start so, if he runs well, that’s a good omen for her. Marie’s Diamond won a listed race easily on his reappearance and deserves his place in this line-up. Space Traveller, Roseman and Bless Him are all big prices but there’s been some money for the latter.
Niamh says…
SKARDU is a horse I have been a huge fan of for a long time and it does help that his trainer, William Haggas, could not be in better form. This lovely chestnut horse is still lightly raced and I think we will see an even better horse this season as he will have learned a lot from last year and his trainer has given him plenty of time and patience. I think the favourite will be difficult to beat, but I really think Skardu can give him a good race. Another horse I think has come into this under the radar is Accidental Agent. He will be up against it to win and he is the type of horse that you would prefer to have had a prep run, but he did win this race 2 years ago and loves Ascot more than any other racecourse. It is important to remember he was really well fancied before running in this last year before, for whatever reason, he decided not to jump out of the gates. He is a massive price for a horse of his quality and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran well once again.
Race 3 – Ribblesdale Stakes (Fillies’ Group Two)
Samantha says…
John Gosden has the top two in the market in this race. It’s a bit of a clash between Frankel and Sea The Stars with Frankly Darling by Frankel and Miss Yoda by Sea The Stars. I’d be more inclined to side with MISS YODA. She’s more proven than Frankly Darling, who was second on debut on the 22nd October 2019 and won by five lengths at Newcastle on the first day of the season. Miss Yoda looks a delicate ride as she got quite upset when winning the Lingfield Oaks Trial but Robert Havlin handled her beautifully so it’s good to see him back on board!
Four of these fillies also ran in the Lingfield Oaks Trial. Anastarsia was John Gosden’s other representative in the race, finishing sixth. She’s by Sea The Stars and won in September. She finished eighth in the Fillies’ Mile. Golden Lips ran an absolute blinder after being sent off a few lengths ahead of the rest of the field. She managed to last home, keeping second from her fast-finishing pursuers. I don’t really get why she’s 40/1. West End Girl was bought for £420,000 on Monday after finishing third in the Oaks Trial. Like Golden Lips, she’s a Golden Horn filly and won a group three in August. So I Told You was fifth at Lingfield after two runs in novice company and has a bit to find.
Hold Fast and Bharani Star both won on their reappearances. The former didn’t win at two but won nicely in a maiden at Kempton. She’s from an in-form yard. Bharani Star also came into this year as a maiden and she dead heated at Haydock in a handicap. Ryan Moore has picked Passion of the Aidan O’Brien duo. She won a maiden and then finished seventh in a group two and fourth on reappearance. Ennistymon, a daughter of Galileo, ran just once last year and then won her maiden by a head at Leopardstown on the ninth. Even though O’Brien has won two of the last four renewals, I don’t think he will win the race this year.
Niamh says…
I really like TREFOIL in this. She did nothing wrong at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago and that run should have her spot on for this. This daughter of Teofilo looks like a really nice horse for her connections and the extra experience will only be a benefit for her. I really hope she runs well.
Race 4 – King Edward VII Stakes (Group Two)

Samantha says…

It is a bit disappointing that just six runners got to post and this race was subject of mixed opinions on our preview podcast. I’m a big fan of ARTHUR’S KINGDOM in general. It took him three attempts to win his maiden but came second in a group one over in France on soft ground next time, proving he’ll stay this trip. He’s a half brother to Joshua Tree, who won three Canadian International. I think, inevitably, he’ll be a St Leger type like I said in our Flat Season Preview Podcast. Mogul will be really tough to beat as he’s a full brother to Japan. He’s odds-on after a group two victory and a fourth place finish in the Vertem Futurity, which 2000 Guineas winner Kameko won. If he wins this, he’ll be a short price in the Derby.

Mohican Heights is the second favourite. He won on debut at Leopardstown and then moved to David Simcock. He won the listed Stonehenge Stakes at Salisbury by two lengths last Autumn but the alarming thing is that he’s ran fourteen horses since racing resumed and only one of them placed. In contrast, Andrew Balding is flying. His runner Papa Power is stepping out of class one company for the first time after two wins in novice company. Last season, Pyledriver won a Haydock listed race and then came last in the Royal Lodge. He was second on seasonal reappearance and the only other horse who already has had a run is Sound Of Canons, who was second to Pyledriver at Haydock, fifth in the Royal Lodge and fourth in the group one that Arthur’s Kingdom was second in.

Niamh says…

MOGUL should win this as it does not look like the strongest renewal of this race ever, Aidan O’Brien has had an undeniably great start to the season. However, I am a fan of Arthur’s Kingdom who was second in a Group 1 in France when last seen. He is only rated 3lbs inferior to Mogul and is by Camelot so looks the ideal type to improve with age as well as with a step up to a mile and a half. I don’t think it would be the biggest shock in the world if he were to beat the favourite, but it will be a tough ask.

Battaash at home in April 2019.

Race 5 – King’s Stand Stakes (Group One)

Samantha says…

BATTAASH sets the standard here as one of the fastest horses in the world. This gelded son of Dark Angel won two group twos and the Nunthorpe last season. He was second to Blue Point for the second year running in this race last year but there’s no Blue Point to get in his way this year. He probably didn’t appreciate the soft ground in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp in October finishing fourteenth when Glass Slippers won convincingly and Shades Of Blue was eleventh. The filly Glass Slippers could be his biggest threat this year with the absence of Sceptical. By Dream Ahead, she won twice at two years of age and ran over a range of trips last season but proved she was a sprinter by going to France and winning a listed, group three and the group one Prix de l’Abbaye on her final three starts of 2019. She’s a smart filly with a big future this season and gets a crucial 3lbs from Battaash.

There are three other fillies in the race – Kurious, Liberty Beach and Shades Of Blue. In her two year old season, Kurious won on debut but was then highly tried in the Queen Mary and a listed race. She returned with a second at Sandown but was last to Khaadem at Newbury. Next time, she won the Scurry Stakes at Sandown and then followed up in the Coral Charge. Shades Of Blue wears blinkers for the first time in this race and won at Ascot on debut and then finished third, beaten a head, in the Queen Mary. She was really consistent at the beginning of last season and won a listed race at Maisons-Laffitte in June. She was eleventh in the Abbaye and returned this season in the group three Palace House but could only manage seventh, three places behind Well Done Fox. Liberty Beach gets even more weight then the other two fillies from the rest of the field as she is a three year old. She won her first two starts before coming fourth in the 2019 Queen Mary. She then won a listed race at Sandown and the group three Molecomb in July. To conclude her season, she came second to Living In The Past in the group two Lowther Stakes. She made her seasonal reappearance by winning the listed Cecil Frail Stakes really well.

Well Done Fox is a two times listed winner at two and he also placed in the Flying Childers and the Cornwalis, behind Sergei Prokofiev. He was last in the Commonwealth Cup Trial and fifth behind Kurious this time last year. He was fourth in the Palace House ahead of Shades Of Blue last week. Sergei Prokofiev won the Rochestown on his third lifetime start. He came third in the Coventry but was then last in the Phoenix Stakes and seventh in the Middle Park. Five furlongs is ideal as he won the Cornwalis in 2018 but he finished tenth in the Woodlands Stakes on the 8th June and will need to improve significantly on that. Rocket Action won once as a two year old from five starts and was then gelded and had a wind op before returning to the track. He was three from five last year with two of those victories coming in class twos under Tom Queally. He’s out of a six and seven furlong winning mare.

Equilateral is Battaash’s stablemate. There has been a surprising amount of talk about this five year old in the leadup to this. He is a listed winner in England in the Scarborough Stakes and on the start after that, he was behind Hit The Bid in a group three at Newbury. Earlier in 2020, Equilateral won a listed race smartly in Meydan before following in Waady in a group two. Hit The Bid has a lot of air miles under his belt. He’s a dual group three winner in Ireland and was last seen finishing fourth in a Dundalk group three. He’ll be one of the bigger priced runners with Oisin Murphy on board. The same can be said for Tis Marvellous, who was second in the Wokingham at this meeting last year. He’s probably more of a handicapper and was fourth to Equilateral on his last start.

Niamh says…

BATTAASH looks a cut above the rest here and his last run can be ignored as the ground was very soft that day in France. He hasn’t run badly here the last two years so it is harsh to say he does not perform well at Ascot; it is just unfortunate for him he ran into a true course specialist the last two years with Blue Point otherwise he would have won this race twice already. Liberty Beach is incredibly quick, and has the benefit of a prep run that showed she has clearly trained on. She gets a lot of weight from her rivals, carrying a featherweight 8st 9lbs and is one of the more likely candidates to overturn Battaash.
Race 6 – Duke Of Cambridgeshire Stakes (Fillies’ Group Two)
Samantha Says…
I find this race quite fascinating. Magic Lily will have the number one saddle cloth as she has a 3lbs penalty. She’s already ran four times in 2020 – she won two group twos in Meydan and then came a good second to Barney Roy in a group one. She ran at Newmarket on the 6th June and finished third, looking a bit one-paced as Queen Power flew past to take second. They’re dropping two furlongs in trip to a mile. On Queen Power’s only attempt at a mile, she was second to Muchly and she has since ran to good effect over further, winning a listed race over one mile two, finishing fourth in the Ribblesdale and fourth in the Winter Hill. She’s trained by Sir Michael Stoute who also has Jubiloso. Lord Grimthorpe put in a good word for this filly on ITV’s Friday show and. She won her first two outings before finishing third in the Coronation Stakes and a group three at Glorious Goodwood. Last time, she was seventh of eight behind LAVENDER’S BLUE. Lavender’s Blue and Jubiloso are of equal ability on official ratings. The former finished second to Queen Power before coming last in the Oaks. She won well at Sandown in August and then finished fourth in the Sun Chariot Stakes. She’s a good horse on her day and I feel like a few of these fillies have questions to answer but she seems straight forward.
Miss O Connor began her career at four years of age in Ireland with trainer John Feane. She then moved to William Haggas and won at Nottingham on soft ground. She won the Dick Hern at Haydock before a good group three win in France. She’s a really likeable daughter of Roderic O’Connor. She has 2lbs to find with Lavender’s Blue, Jubiloso and Magic Lily on official ratings but any rain will aid her cause under James Doyle who has made a great partnership with William Haggas. The same can be said for Sean Levey and Richard Hannon. They team up with Kingman filly Posted. She broke her maiden on her eighth attempt after running consistently in defeat. On her ninth start, she won a Newmarket handicap and then finished fourth in a group three and a listed, behind Agincourt. On seasonal reappearance, she finished fifth to Nazeef with Agincourt seventh and Ionic Choice ninth.
Agincourt was so consistent at four, never finishing out of the top three. She won a fillies’ handicap at York and concluded her season winning a listed race at Newmarket, with Posted fourth. She was a 40/1 shot on reappearance and ran like one. Nazeef is the current favourite. She was third on debut and then won two class fours and a class three. Her Kempton listed victory thirteen days ago was impressive. She’ll be one of the well-fancied runners. Ionic Choice has Oisin Murphy on board. Her last win was in late October 2018 when winning a listed race but has lost her way since.
Invitational’s trainer/jockey combination of Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni have been flying since racing resumed. She won twice at the beginning of last season but went without a win until November when she won a listed contest at Fontainebleau on heavy ground. She won well on the all-weather in January. Last to mention is the French filly Wasmya. She won three races last season but found the group one Prix de la Foret a bit too hot. She ran on to get second in a seven furlong listed race in May when French racing restarted. She has a tongue strap on for the first time to help her.
Niamh says…
NAZEEF will be tough to beat as she has shown she has an awful lot of class and is unbeaten since stepped up to the mile. The big tell on her ability will be how Billesdon Brook runs earlier in the afternoon in the Queen Anne Stakes. I am a big fan of Lavender’s Blue, though, and I think the mile is her ideal trip. She is one of the more likely candidates as Sam has explained.

Dubawi Fifty
Dubawi Fifty

Race 7 – Ascot Stakes (Handicap)
Samantha says…
I am one of Dubawi Fifty’s biggest fans. He was second in this race in 2018 and he picked up an injury shortly after that run and since he has returned to the track he’s slightly lost his way. He runs off a mark of 97, which is the same as he was for this in 2018, and I know he’s better than 97 but he’s just not showing it on the track lately. I’d love to see him run a big race as Karen McLintock has had a really tough time lately and deserves a good run from this boy. I’m going to side with LAND OF OZ, who is four years old and I was a bit shocked to see that as it feels like he’s been around for ages. He’s only tackling this trip for the first time but was seen to good effect over two miles two recently. Verdana Blue, San Benedeto and Smart Champion are worth keeping an eye on too.
Niamh says…
MANCINI has his second start for Ian Williams here, and I thought William Buick is an eye-catching jockey booking. He races prominently and was staying on again over 2 miles at Haydock behind Moon King last time, suggesting the further trip around here will suit. Ian Williams won this race last year where Mancini ran a great race to be 7th, I think another year is likely to have improved him further although he will need to step up again. Charlie D could run a big race for Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote who are in great form. He has a nice light weight and goes well on a sounder surface. He could be one for an each way price but he will be up against some of these other stayers, especially the likes of Verdana Blue.

Listen to our preview of Day One and Two here –

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