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Royal Ascot bankers: five favourites you can rely on
Posted in: Royal Ascot Tips
Palace Pier – Queen Anne Stakes, Tuesday (14:30)
There is little doubt Palace Pier is the best horse to have contested the Queen Anne since Frankel, lining up as the winner of seven of his eight starts to date. He ended last season as Timeform’s highest-rated three-year-old in training following wins in the St James’s Palace Stakes at this meeting and Prix Jacques le Marois at Deavuille, and he has proved the defeat he suffered on his final start – in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over this course and distance – to be just a blip with two decisive victories already on the board in 2021.
Palace Pier recorded the third Group 1 victory of his career in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last time, quickening to lead entering the final two furlongs and just needing to be kept up to his work to land the spoils by a length and a half with plenty in hand. That was another performance right out of the top drawer and he simply looks far superior to anything else in this division.
Battaash – King’s Stand Stakes, Tuesday (15:40)
Battaash has won just about every big five-furlong race there is to win in Europe and often more than once. He was successful on all three starts in 2020, finally landing the King’s Stand at the third attempt before taking his career tally to 13 with wins in the King George Stakes at Goodwood (for the fourth year in a row) and Nunthorpe Stakes at York (for the second year in a row). In pure form terms, Battaash wasn’t at his brilliant best last season, but he did gain consistency and seemed a more mature horse.
Battaash met with a setback during the winter – he reportedly underwent surgery after suffering a small fracture to a joint – which is an obvious concern ahead of this year’s King’s Stand. However, he has an exemplary record when fresh, winning first-time-out in every season of his racing career, and even his revised Timeform rating of 128 leaves his rivals with plenty to find to come up to his level.
Lady Bowthorpe – Duke of Cambridge Stakes, Wednesday (15:40)
Lady Bowthorpe has made giant strides. She won a Lingfield handicap from a BHA mark of 81 on her reappearance last season before making the breakthrough in pattern company in the Valiant Stakes at this course just seven weeks later. That was an impressive performance which suggested she might be capable of making an impact at a higher level, but those hopes were dented as she met with defeat on both subsequent starts that season.
Lady Bowthorpe has made an excellent start this season, showing a good attitude to land the Dahlia Stakes on her return at Newmarket before taking her form up another notch when second, a length and a half behind Palace Pier, in the Lockinge. She was outclassed by the winner at Newbury but still emerged with plenty of credit, showing very smart form to pull more than five lengths clear of the rest.
This represents a drop in grade back against her own sex and, despite having a 3 lb penalty to carry for her Dahlia victory, she still comfortably sets the standard on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings.
Mohaafeth – Hampton Court Stakes, Thursday (15:05)
Mohaafeth was a late non-runner in the Derby but it will be exciting to see just what he can do when he lines up in Thursday’s Hampton Court. Mohaafeth has already demonstrated a smart level of form, but there remains a suspicion that we’ve only scratched the surface of his ability, such was the ease of his success in a listed race at Newmarket in early-May. Held up in the early stages, he was produced to lead on the bridle over two furlongs out and quickly forged clear to land the spoils by five lengths. He is fancied to prove himself one of the best three-year-olds in training before stepping up in grade for a race such as the Eclipse.
Stradivarius – Gold Cup, Thursday (16:15)
Stradivarius produced the best performance of his remarkable career at Royal Ascot last year when winning the Gold Cup for the third year in succession, readily dismissing concerns about the soft going as he powered clear in the straight to win by 10 lengths. Stradivarius wasn’t finished either as he won the Goodwood Cup for the fourth year in a row on his next start, becoming the first horse to achieve that particular feat.
He had valid excuses when beaten on his three subsequent starts last season and demonstrated that he is as enthusiastic as ever when making a successful reappearance in the Sagaro Stakes at this course in April, typically just doing enough to beat Ocean Wind by a length. It’s hard to see who will stop him in the Gold Cup if he turns up in anything like the same form he was in 12 months ago.
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