Queen Anne Antepost Betting: Ex French raider ready to step forward for O'Brien

Royal Ascot
Tony fancies a couple in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot

Our big-price tipster Tony Calvin takes an early look Royal Ascot's Queen Anne Stakes, explaining why he fancies one at huge odds and why an Aidan O'Brien horse should be favourite...

"I just get the feeling that he is ready to take a huge step forward and repay O'Brien's kindness and patience with him at Ascot, and he would be my idea of the favourite."

There is an inevitable lull in the high-class Flat action this weekend - though ITV are set to show nine contests from three meetings on Saturday - so I thought I would take a good look at one of the races at Royal Ascot.

And the meeting-opener is as good as any, so let's focus on the Queen Anne.

A big-price each-way poke

In fact, this is the only Ascot race that I have had a financial interest in so far, in the shape of Romanised.

I managed to back him at 100/1 each-way before his run in the Lockinge, and again at 66/1 after his fourth there - I am very surprised that the 66s is still available in the marketplace - and I am happy enough with that position.

Okay, it would have been nice to see him win at Newbury, particularly as we were with him there as well, but he shaped well enough in fourth there at 16/1 to suggest all is not lost.

Romanised1280.jpg

His Ascot form figures read 779, so he is certainly no Accidental Agent when it comes to loving the track.

But there have been mitigating circumstances in all three runs.

He didn't get the run of the race when beaten under 3 lengths in the Coventry, which was again the case from off the pace around the outside in the St James' Palace Stakes, and it was soft ground in the QEII in October.

The ability is still there

His stand-out effort to date is clearly his 2 ¼-length defeat of US Navy Flag on fast ground in the Irish 2000 Guineas, where he did exceptionally well to win with such authority given his tardy start from the outside stall, but he looks to have retained that ability in two starts this season.

He got no run throughout when fifth under his 5lb penalty on his return at Naas, and then ran perfectly well when fourth to Mustashry, Laurens and Accidental Agent at Newbury.

Making a persuasive argument why he should turn that form-line around here is not easy - the winner won well, the second is a multiple Group 1 winner and the third won this race last year and excels at Ascot - so I won't try.

He probably wasn't ideally positioned there, either - and I wouldn't put anyone off backing him at 33/1 and upwards on the exchange - and I think it is another day, another dollar in these Group 1 mile races this season, as there is no stand-out performer in the division. And his trainer confirms that the Queen Anne is the plan.

Former French raider has plenty of class

Or maybe there might be a "star" in the shape of Le Brivido, who I think is worth a small-stakes interest at 7/1 each-way with the Betfair Sportsbook.

He finished two places in front of Romanised at Naas, and one behind him at Newbury, but the promise in both runs were there for all to see.

Now, this horse has serious back-class when trained by Andre Fabre in 2017, when he was beaten a short-head in the French 2000 Guineas and then went on to win the Jersey by a neck here in a fast time.

He has obviously had plenty of problems since but he was given the kid gloves treatment on his first start for the best part of a year (and his stable debut for Aidan O'Brien, who he joined just before Christmas) at Naas in April, and he could well have given Mustashry something to think about at Newbury if the race had panned out differently, even though he was beaten 4 lengths into fifth.

I was against him at Newbury purely on price grounds in the lead-up to the race but he was in fact a massive drifter near the off, going off at 8/1 when he was half that price in the morning (he actually went off at a Betfair SP of 11.0).

But in keeping with my "another day, another dollar" comment above, it really isn't that much of a stretch to see him at least finish second at Newbury, and maybe even come out on top, on another occasion.

Drawn 14 of 14 there, he was never in the place to be throughout the race - Newbury is regularly a track and position-bias course, and near-side is often bad news - and also met trouble in running, before finishing off powerfully, under hands and heels riding from Ryan Moore, to take fifth.

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Given that run, his previous form when with Fabre, and the fact that he is proven on Ascot's straight track on fast ground - and it was soft when he was second in his Guineas, so he is versatile on that score - then he looks the one to beat on June 18th.

He was available at double-figures after Newbury, and is now 7/1, but he could well be a 7/2 chance on the day. He has that look of a "Lads" plunge, if they bet, that is.

I am assuming he goes here anyway, but that is obviously the risk you take with ante-post betting.

Agent and Hazapour the pick of the remainder

I can fully see the case for Accidental Agent again, as course form figures of 71431 tell their own story, and he just seems to excel on a straight track, too. That Newbury third on his reappearance wasn't far off his best, and that should have put him spot on for this.

He's a definite player at a double-figure price.

Perhaps I am being too disrespectful to Mustashry, given he won the Lockinge by 2 ½-lengths in a clear career-best run, but I always tend to take Newbury form with a pinch of salt, rightly or wrongly, and the other at a double-figure price that caught my eye was Hazapour.

I had a rare, low-price bet on him at 5/2 when he won over a mile at Leopardstown last time, the first time he had run over that trip since beating Hunting Horn at Galway at two, and I can see a strongly-run race at Ascot really suiting him.

He was obviously a very classy 3yo, being a non-staying fifth in the Derby as well as winning a Derrinstown, but he has always had a high cruising speed and this could be his optimum trip these days, given a fair pace to aim at, anyway.

But it's Le Brivido for me at 7s.

I just get the feeling that he is ready to take a huge step forward and repay O'Brien's kindness and patience with him at Ascot, and he would be my idea of the favourite.


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