Royal Ascot Day One Tips: Opal Tiara will make your mouth water

Four big priced fancies for Tony on day one at Ascot
Four big priced fancies for Tony on day one at Ascot

After landing three huge priced winners at Epsom earlier this month, we're expecting big things from Tony Calvin at Royal Ascot this week. Here are our man's best bets for the opening day in Berkshire...

Recommended Bets

Back Esoterique at 25.024/1 in the 14:30

Back Mecca's Angel at 8.27/1 in the 15:45

Back Boite at 18.5 in the 17:00

Back Opal Tiara at 23.022/1 in the 17:30

Right, let's get this party started; Esoterique rates a bet at 25.024/1 to spring a surprise in the Queen Anne at 14:30.

The market is dominated by the big two of Solow and Able Friend, and you can see why. Solow looked a monster when beating The Grey Gatsby in Dubai and Able Friend has been smashing up all-comers in Hong Kong.

But they both face far different challenges here over this stiff, straight Ascot mile and they are definitely opposable at the prices. I don't rate the Hannon pair, so that leaves me with Esoterique.

It is a concern that she disappointed in the Duke Of Cambridge at this meeting last year but she has a couple of bits of form that give her a definite chance in here getting the 3lb sex allowance, most notably her defeat of Miss France and Integral in the Group 1 Prix Rothschild last season.

Yes, that was a tactical four-runner race but she was impressive in beating Group 1 winners there all the same, and she had a nice run-out for this when third on her seasonal reappearance at Saint Cloud last month, which had "Andre Fabre prep" written all over it. She is no 20/1 poke, even in this field.


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I must have changed my mind about ten times when looking at the Coventry at 15:05 and, in the end, I came down firmly in the "no bet" camp.

Round Two looks a worthy favourite but 5/2 is plenty short enough in an 18-runner field full of unknowns, and anyone who saw Finnegan's Pimlico win 5f on YouTube could not fail to have been very impressed. He is bred to be suited by this extra furlong too.

But, in truth, you can make a similar case for many of these, not least Leicester winner War Department and Epsom winner Buratino, and it all looks too much of a guessing game to me.


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*MECCA'S ANGEL A NON-RUNNER*

Given that I have a couple of £100 match bets on the go with Coral duo James Knight and Wilf Walsh for Muthmir to beat Mecca's Angel, my King's Stand fancy is going to surprise them.

Back Mecca's Angel at 8.27/1 in the 15:40.

I have backed Muthmir ante-post at 8/1 and I expect him to run a massive race - he did well to win in France last time after meeting trouble in running on softening ground - but he is three points shorter now and there is no juice left in his odds of 5/1.

But there is some mileage in Mecca's Angel at around 7/1. To be honest, at the time I failed to grasp just how impressive she was when winning on her reappearance at Longchamp last month, where she looked a ridiculously speedy filly and won easily in a very quick time.

She would undoubtedly want a bit more cut than she is going to get here but I reckon that Ascot, faced with a dry week, will have been tempted to water pretty liberally this morning (Monday). So Tuesday's ground may be as good as it gets for the mud-lovers.

However, apparently, connections will walk the course on Tuesday morning before giving the filly the green light to run.

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The St James's Palace Stakes at 16:20 looks an absolute belter of a race but I can't see any betting angle whatsoever.

I layed Gleneagles at 1.728/11 in the ante-post market last week, so I wasn't chuffed to see Territories ruled out, but I still have Make Believe and Consort running for me and I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if either of those turned over the favourite.


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I like the look of Boite at 18.5 in the Ascot Stakes at 17:00.

He did well over hurdles after joining Warren Greatrex from Peter Chapple-Hyam in January, and ran a great race on his Flat debut for the yard at Goodwood last time, setting a strong pace and sticking on well once headed.

He has been raised 2lb for that, which initially seemed a bit harsh considering he was beaten three-and-a-half lengths. But I think that is strong handicap form - the runner-up may well have won at Epsom next time had he been ridden closer to the pace - and it was four lengths back to the fourth, so that rise is fair enough.

Hopefully, he will be ridden with more restraint here but at least the early dash he showed at Goodwood will allow him to get a good position from stall one. And it is a further positive that he ran a blinder when a 66/1 third to Leading Light in the Queen's Vase here two years ago.


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Having said the 18-runner Coventry was a bit of a minefield, I am probably on very thin ice putting up Opal Tiara at 23.022/1 in the 27-runner Windsor Castle at 17:35. But it is more than justified.

She was very impressive when winning an above-average maiden at Wolverhampton on her debut and then acquitted herself really well when a length second to Easton Angel in the Hilary Needler at Beverley last time.

OK, the winner won easily enough but she is second favourite for the Queen Mary and the pair pulled well clear of the rest.

I thought Opal Tiara would be one of the favourites in here, so I have to side with this smooth traveller at 20/1-plus, especially as a high draw has been a positive in recent seasons and she is in stall 24.


Recommended Bets

Back Esoterique at 25.024/1 in the 14:30
Back Mecca's Angel at 8.27/1 in the 15:40
Back Boite at 18.5 in the 17:00
Back Opal Tiara at 23.022/1 in the 17:35


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