Royal Ascot Tips: Four mega-priced plays for the opening day

Will we be raising our top hats to any of Tony's first day tips?
Will we be raising our top hats to any of Tony's first day tips?

Tony Calvin runs through the day one card at Royal Ascot where he has found a number of value bets that could get the week off to a flying start...

Recommended Bets
Back Prince Of The Dark at 24.023/1 or bigger in 15:05
Back Lancaster Bomber at 40.039/1 win and 5.04/1 place in 16:20
Back Galizzi at 40.039/1 or bigger in the 17:00
Back Who Dares Wins at 8.07/1 or bigger in the 17:00

The opening leg of the much-trumpeted Royal Ascot five-horse accumulator will be falling at the first hurdle if Ribchester doesn't do the business in the Queen Anne at 14:30 - I forget the other four horses - but I suspect the multi-merchants will be all right.

Now, I personally wouldn't dream of backing him at around the 10/11 mark in a 16-runner field - though he was shorter last week - where he is drawn one and will be racing on the quickest ground he has faced since finishing third in the Sussex Stakes. And he can be a bit too free for his own good.

But that is not to say that he doesn't warrant being in the vicinity of evens; it's just that I don't bet like that.

He is 5lb clear of his main form rivals Lightning Spear and Mutakayyef, has excellent track form and arguably comes here on the back of a career-best win in the Lockinge in the soft at Newbury last time. In short, there is nothing not to like about his chances, bar the price.

I backed my old favourite Lightning Spear each-way at 7/1 last week and, if anyone can, he is the most likely to turn over Ribchester.

But, then again, he has been put in his place four times by Ribchester in their recent meetings, and the juice has been squeezed out of his price now, especially as it was a blow to see that 16 runners have rocked up, too.

So let's give the opening race of the meeting a swerve. There are plenty more to get stuck into this week.

A Dark horse that could be something special in the Coventry

Normally, I am very loathe to play in two-year-old races which are full of unknowns, and the Coventry at 15:05 is certainly that with nine unbeaten horses and 13 last-time-out winners.

But I am going against the grain, for me at least, and putting up Prince Of The Dark at 24.023/1 or bigger.

Clive Cox juveniles who win first time up tend to be very decent and this colt certainly made an eventful winning debut at Bath (a track where his dam won four times, funnily enough).

Not only was he pretty impressive the way he travelled and quickened up to put the race to bed in a smart time - and the placed horses had good maiden form going into the race as well - it was his antics afterwards that caught my eye.

He unshipped Adam Kirby soon after the winning post and proceeded to run loose, with some gusto, for well over a minute into the Bath countryside - go and watch the race replay on - suggesting he had plenty left in the tank.

He is clearly a bit of a boyo as Cox has put headgear on him. But that could be viewed as a big positive as the last two horses that the trainer put first-time cheek pieces on have both won, and this is the first time he has adopted that tactic in 2017.

Of course, you have to respect the likes of Brother Bear, the form horse, and Wesley Ward's Arawak (who apparently impressed Jamie Spencer in an Ascot gallop last week) but at 20/1+ I have to give Prince Of The Dark a spin.

I was going to take a total flier with a place-only bet on Connery (I like the second-time-out angle for Sylvester Kirk 2yos) but he really does have stones to find, and I soon came to my senses.

Marsha may be a King's Stand bet at 4/1

The King's Stand at 15:40 is not a race I want to play in.

At the top of the market, I much prefer Marsha over Lady Aurelia and 4/1 isn't a bad price about the former if you can snaffle that price.

But it wouldn't surprise me were any one of 10 to win, though I must admit that my eye was drawn to Ardhoomey, whose two runs this season probably deserve more respect than 33/1+ quotes imply.

Spear could hit the bullseye in the St James Palace

The betting suggests that the St James' Palace is a two-horse race with the Guineas 1-2, Churchill and Barney Roy, re-locking horns.

Barney Roy didn't get the run of the race when beaten a length at Newmarket, but you could argue that Churchill improved again in beating Thunder Snow in the soft at the Curragh last time.

Either way you look at it, they are pretty much the price they should be, but I can't help feeling that Churchill hasn't had to do it the hard way yet, and that Rivet and Lancaster Bomber - and that pair could provide the pace in the race - are probably over-priced at the current odds.

I did my absolutes when putting up Lancaster Bomber win and place at the Curragh, as the ground went against him there and I didn't even attempt to reverse my position. It turned soft and this War Front colt wants it rattling quick.

I have to give him another shot at 40.039/1 win and 4.03/1 place in the 16:20.

I know people will say that you are mad for putting up a pace-maker, and they are probably right.

But I can't get out of my head what a good horse he is in his own right - he has finished little more than a length behind Churchill in the Dewhurst and Guineas - and on his favoured fast ground, and from stall one, I genuinely think he could make these all go from the front.

On form, no way he is a 33/1+ shot. He was only a head and a neck behind Barney Roy at Newmarket, for heaven's sake, and I think this track could suit his attacking style of racing, too.

Two to play in the Ascot Stakes

Who Dares Wins, Beyond Conceit and Galizzi are my three against the field in the Ascot Stakes at 17:00 - I can't be having Thomas Hobson at those odds, Willie Mullins or not - so at the prices it has to be Galizzi at 40.039/1 or bigger.

I hope he isn't a "social" runner on his first start for Tim Vaughan since leaving Charlie Appleby, and he hasn't raced for over a year, current connections having bought him in November. That has to be a worry, as it suggests he has had his troubles.

But Vaughan, who had a Flat winner on Friday, has definitely got hold of an interesting horse for £21,000 from Godolphin.

He went off an 8/1 chance when finishing in midfield in this race last season, and if he could come back to the form of his emphatic Goodwood win over 2m on fast ground last June then he is no forlorn hope off a mark of 93.

It's a punt, and his stamina is unproven, but he does have a fair record when fresh, and he was highly-regarded by Godolphin at one time last season. He is worth chancing at the price.

The claims of guaranteed stayer Beyond Conceit (rated 148 over hurdles, and just 92 here) and Who Dares Wins are more obvious. I can't tip both of them though, and I think Who Dares Wins is marginally the more solid of the two.

He didn't get the run of the race when fourth in the Chester Cup and, off just 1lb higher mark here and on a more conventional track that should suit him a lot better, I can see him going very close. He will relish the ground and is still unexposed over staying trips on the Flat. Back him at 8.07/1 or bigger.

If you can solve the 24-runner Windsor Castle at 17:35 then you have my admiration.

The only two that half-tempted me at the prices were Sound And Silence and Mokaatil - the former's trainer is superb with first-time headgear and the latter shaped really well at Salisbury - but there is pace everywhere across the track and I gave up trying to eke out a bet.

And it wouldn't surprise me if one of the Wesley Ward pair won half the track, as they have done twice in recent years.

Recommended Bets
Back Prince Of The Dark at 24.023/1 or bigger in 15:05
Back Lancaster Bomber at 40.039/1 win and 5.04/1 place in 16:20
Back Galizzi at 40.039/1 or bigger in the 17:00
Back Who Dares Wins at 8.07/1 or bigger in the 17:00

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