Racing Expert & Columnist
Alex Hammond's Royal Ascot Tips
Last Updated: 17/06/19 10:24am
Alex Hammond anticipates Sea Of Class will rise to the top at Royal Ascot next week - check out her preview of all the major races in her latest blog.
Royal Ascot takes centre stage next week Alex, can you take a look at the feature race each day and find us a winner elsewhere too?
I'm so excited for Royal Ascot this year as Sky Sports Racing are live at the world's finest racecourse for every moment of this fantastic five-day celebration of Flat racing.
I haven't worked at the track for many years, so when we kick off at 9am next Tuesday you can guarantee the whole team will be buzzing!
I'll definitely be buzzing if Olmedo wins the first day feature, the Queen Anne Stakes.
This Group 1 is run over the straight mile and you can guarantee that trainer Jean-Claude Rouget would not be bringing last year's French Guineas winner over unless he felt the colt had a great chance of becoming France's 20th Royal Ascot winner in the past 19 years. He's a 10/1 shot with Sky Bet to get our meeting off to a flyer. Bon chance!
Not satisfied with one Group 1 though, we also have the King's Stand Stakes over the flying 5 furlongs. Battaash will be a formidable opponent after his reappearance win in Haydock's Temple Stakes on his first run after a wind operation. We know by now that a horse's second run after a breathing op is the time to start following, so imagine how good he could be here?!
His Ascot record needs improving upon, but this could be his year. He's 15/8 favourite with Sky Bet. I've re-named him Banker Battaash.
I can't leave the third Group 1 out of the equation for our day one chat as the St. James's Palace Stakes promises to be a crackerjack of a mile contest with the likes of Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Phoenix Of Spain taking on Dante and Irish Guineas runner-up Too Darn Hot and his stablemate King Of Comedy.
I'm going with Phoenix Of Spain as he looks to have an exciting season ahead of him after his storming win at the Curragh. He's 6/4 with Sky Bet.
The Prince Of Wales's Stakes is the day-two feature and is a mile and a quarter Group 1.
I'm hoping Sea Of Class can do it for the girls. William Haggas' Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe runner-up shares 5/2 favouritism in Sky Bet's market with another filly, Magical, with the latter 3-3 for Aidan O'Brien this season and the former making her seasonal reappearance.
I adore Sea Of Class who ran a brilliant race when just beaten a short neck by Enable at ParisLongchamp despite breaking from one of the widest draws. There should be so much more to come from her this season and you'll hear me roaring her home from your living room if she looms up with a fighting chance.
The Royal Hunt Cup provides its usual conundrum as we try and find a bit of value in this mile handicap over Ascot's straight course.
New Graduate doesn't fall into that category as he's Sky Bet's 6/1 favourite after cruising to victory at Ripon on his handicap debut back in April. He was raised 15lbs for that, but it's very strong form with nice winners coming out of the race. The handicapper hasn't had a chance to see him since and he's a worthy favourite for trainer James Tate.
The inclination is to look for something that looks better value, but I'll take a 6/1 winner, so I'm sticking with him.
Sea Of Class
The Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup is probably the feature race of the whole week, depending on what floats your boat.
Personally, I love these Cup races because they give us a chance to fall in love with the contestants, as they stick around for a few years. Stradivarius is Sky Bet's 11/8 favourite to repeat his win in the race 12 months ago, but this time I do think there's value to be found elsewhere.
He may be the heavyweight of this division, but Dee Ex Bee is the gritty scrapper, the bare-knuckle fighter with a relentless style of galloping. That may be doing him an injustice, but you know what I mean?
He has come into his own since stepping up to staying trips this season and there is no reason this 2 ½ miles shouldn't see him progress further. Mark Johnston-trained horses seem to have an inner steel and I hope he can grind this one out. He's 5/1 to take the ultimate staying crown.
Elsewhere on the card, the Britannia is the big handicap on day three. Final runners obviously haven't been confirmed as yet, but if Beat Le Bon lines up in this one mile race I'll be on.
He offers each-way value at 14/1 and it's worth bearing in mind trainer Richard Hannon thought he could have been good enough for the Dewhurst at one point, but despite his faith in this colt, he failed to win at two.
He has started to fulfil his potential and his win at Goodwood last month showed what he was capable of. He could be unexposed and I'm hoping there's more to come from him this season. This will just be his second start over a mile.
One of the features on the penultimate day is the Group 1 Coronation Stakes for three-year-old fillies over a mile and this looks like a great opportunity for Aidan O'Brien's dual 1000 Guineas winner Hermosa to stamp her authority over her rivals.
She's Sky Bet's even-money favourite after O'Brien decided to bypass the French Oaks in order to come here. She looks like a banker.
The other Group 1 is the Commonwealth Cup, a race that has really opened up opportunities for the three-year-old sprinters at the highest level.
There is serious quality amongst the entries for this 6 furlong contest with 2000 Guineas fifth Ten Sovereigns one of the runners dropping back in trip after failing to show his best over a mile.
He's Sky Bet's 6/4 favourite, but I think there's another colt in the line-up that offers much more value and looks a stonking bet at 16/1!
Advertise never really looked like a serious contender for races beyond this type of trip, but trainer Martyn Meade understandably tried him in the 2000 Guineas after some top level juvenile form.
Needless to say he failed to stay the trip at Newmarket and I was hoping he would drop back in trip for this. He looked like he would be a better horse at three and with a winter on his back could have strengthened into his frame. His trainer isn't setting the world on fire at the moment, but doesn't have a lot of runners, so I hope this chap can give him a memorable day on Friday. I'm on each-way.
Onto the final day then and sticking with the sprinters, the big race of the afternoon is the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 6 furlongs.
James Tate could have a good week and his Invincible Army is Sky Bet's 3/1 favourite after his easy win at York last month. The rain that has fallen this month won't hinder his chance and he's a worthy market leader.
Former winner The Tin Man should strip a lot fitter for his reappearance run at Windsor which initially looked disappointing as he was beaten into third, but should have brought him on for this.
City Light developed into a top-class performer after winning the All Weather Sprint Championships at Lingfield last year, he was just touched off in this by Merchant Navy and has a good chance of avenging that short-head defeat.
He made a satisfactory seasonal return at Maisons-Laffitte in April and that race is working out well. At 7/1 he looks an attractive selection for French trainer Stephane Wattel. Allez France!
The Wokingham offers us one of the final conundrums of this magnificent meeting, so let's see if there's anything lurking at a price in this 6 furlong heritage handicap.
Summerghand is one such horse (currently 16/1 with Sky Bet) for David O'Meara who seems to have kept him fresh for this after a solid effort to finish second at Newmarket in early-May.
He is 5lbs higher than his last winning mark, but his latest effort came off the same mark he will run off in this, so he's hopefully not too harshly treated for his shrewd stable.
I wish you the very best throughout the week and for more serious insight and expert analysis (and some funky hats!), do join us every day on Sky Sports Racing; we will be live from the track from 9am each day.