Graham Cunningham's In-Play Tips: Royal Ascot, Day One

Hughie Morrison, trainer of Graham Cunningham's fancy Cosimo de Medici

All rise for the Queen - and the King. Her Majesty will be the centre of attention before the action gets under way on day one of Royal Ascot, but the mighty Frankel will hog the spotlight when the stalls crash open for the Queen Anne Stakes. Racing UK analyst Graham Cunningham is hoping for more of the same from the best horse on the planet and is looking for a royal flush in the form of five horses with clear trading potential.

"Put simply, I reckon Cosimo de Medici should be around 8.07/1 for this. But he's trading at well into double figures and therefore crying out to be backed with a view to laying off at around 4.03/1 in running."

Back Cosimo de Medici in the 17:00 and lay off at 4.03/1 in running


The menu is simple and consists of thirty races offering getting on for five million quid in prize money over five days on a track that can be very hard to read at times.

All logic suggests that Frankel and Black Caviar ought to bookend Royal Ascot 2012 by maintaining their unbeaten records, but the punting value lies in digging out horses with the potential to shine at bigger prices and Tuesday's card offers plenty of suitable candidates.

First up is Bated Breath in the King's Stand Stakes at 15:05. No flash story here. Roger Charlton's colt has been a major force in top sprinting company for some while now and looked better than ever when smashing Haydock's track record in the Temple Stakes on his reappearance.

Connections have been praying for the ground to dry out. And if it does then Bated Breath's highly impressive cruising speed gives him every chance of trading short and thwarting a powerful foreign challenge headed by Little Bridge and Ortensia.

A glance at the market is all that is necessary to realise that Gabrial has plenty to find on his first venture into Group 1 company in the St James's Palace Stakes at 15:45 and I wouldn't quibble with anyone who takes the safe line by siding with the Irish Guineas winner Power to give Aidan O'Brien a remarkable seventh St James's Palace winner.

However, Timeform ratings suggest there is ample scope for an improver to get in amongst some generally uninspiring Group 1 performers here.

And Gabrial might just be improving rapidly based on the way he bounded clear in a hot handicap at Haydock last month.

Stall one could be problematic given Spencer is likely to bury him early but the turn of foot Gabrial showed at Haydock suggests there could be real mileage in backing him at 17.016/1 with a view to trading out at 5.04/1 in the run.

The presence of so many unknown quantities makes the Coventry Stakes at 16:25 a very complex puzzle, but I'll be surprised if Dawn Approach and Cristoforo Colombo don't play significant roles.

Dawn Approach looks a typically rugged Jim Bolger colt and has already reached the level normally needed to go close in this, while Cristoforo Colombo is less easy to assess but quickened impressively on his Navan debut and is trained by a man who has won the Coventry four times.

Backing both with a view to trading out at very skinny odds could be the way to go here, but the Ascot Stakes at 17:00 throws up the best trading option of the day in the shape of Cosimo de Medici.

This gelding has plenty in his favour for a marathon like this. First, he showed he stays extremely well when beating Dark Ranger in a warm handicap at Newmarket last autumn and is much better off with the runner-up now; second, his trainer Hughie Morrison has a fine record in Royal Ascot handicaps; and third, Cosimo de Medici caught the eye staying on willingly over a barely adequate 1m4f on his Goodwood reappearance.

Put simply, I reckon Cosimo de Medici should be around 8.07/1 for this. But he's trading at well into double figures and therefore crying out to be backed with a view to laying off at around 4.03/1 in running.


Royal Ascot Day One Recommendations

Back Bated Breath in the 15:05 and lay off at 2.56/4 in running
Back Gabrial in the 15:45 and lay off at 5.04/1 in running
Back Dawn Approach in the 16:25 and lay off at 1.51/2 in running
Back Cristoforo Colombo in the 16:25 and lay off at 3.02/1 in running
Back Cosimo de Medici in the 17:00 and lay off at 4.03/1 in running


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