Royal Ascot Day One Tips: A sextet of selections for Tuesday's high quality card

Tony has a quintet of selections for the opening day of the Royal meeting
Tony has a quintet of selections for the opening day of the Royal meeting

Tuesday sees the start of five top class days at Royal Ascot, and our big-price tipster Tony Calvin has a sextet of selections for you to consider to kick off the meeting...


"His comeback win at Sandown, where he beat Dutch Connection a neck giving him 3lb, is probably the best recent domestic form on offer here and I won't be surprised if he wins a Queen Anne that lacks a superstar along the lines of a Solow."

Back Toormore at 25.024/1 in 14:30

Weather talk at Royal Ascot this week promises to be about as tedious as Chester draw chat, and the conversation will change depending on what forecasts you pay heed to.

Listening to Carole Kirkwood on BBC Breakfast News this morning - and I began writing this at 6am on Monday - you could have been forgiven for thinking it could be heavy at the Berkshire track on the opening day, but one website actually had a pretty dry week in store for the course.

Enough, already. I am going to proceed on the basis of soft ground, so look away now if you expect it to dry up.


Consider outsiders in wide open Queen Anne

First up is the Queen Anne at 14:30 and it is no surprise whatsoever to see that Tepin is trading as the third favourite at 6.05/1 for the race, having been as low as 3-1 with some firms over the weekend.

The exchange layers' opposition to the American mare is predictable. Yes, she is the best horse in the race on her US exploits, which include soft-ground form, but a straight mile on testing ground will be the hardest test she has encountered to date, and she has to do so without her beloved nasal strip, and the considerable benefit of Lasix.

At 10-1, you may be inclined to take your chances, but at half the price, no thanks.

Endless Drama was 10-1 over the weekend, despite Friday's 20mm, and that predictably didn't last long. The case for him is obvious, as the massive horse - I think he weighs more than Denman - will love the ground and he ran an excellent comeback race, after a very long absence, when third to Belardo in the Lockinge.

I couldn't put anyone off him at 8.27/1, or indeed most of the field, as I genuinely can see any of the field bar Barchan and A Shin Hikari's travelling companion A Shin Erwin taking a hand in the finish here. The French pair of Ervedya and Esoterique have leading chances, too.

But I am going to take two at big prices against the field in the shape of Toormore at 25.024/1 and Cougar Mountain at 36.035/1.

Toormore ran below par when fifth in the Lockinge but he is one of those hardy Group 2 winners that people tend to sneer at up in grade - though he was a Group 1 winner at two - and he doesn't get the respect he deserves.

Yes, he has been found wanting in Group 1 company of late and connections feel that he wants better ground. But my formbook tells me that he is the joint highest-rated horse in here on 119, after Tepin on 121, and that he was beaten only a length by Charm Spirit in the 2014 QEII here on heavy ground.

His comeback win at Sandown, where he beat Dutch Connection a neck giving him 3lb, is probably the best recent domestic form on offer here and I won't be surprised if he wins a Queen Anne that lacks a superstar along the lines of a Solow.

He finished two lengths behind Cougar Mountain in this race last season and I can't resist a small poke on the Aidan O'Brien horse at 36.035/1 despite ground fears.

A reproduction of his third to Solow and Esoterique in this race last year would not make him anywhere near a 35-1 poke in this, and his trainer has brought him on steadily this season with a view to a crack at this prize. The cheekpieces ae back on, and the Cougar could pounce late here.


Stoneyford to outrun massive Coventry odds

Stable confidence is high on Caravaggio's chances in the Coventry Stakes at 15:05 and why not, as he clocked an exceptional time when winning over 5f at the Curragh last time and that is probably the strongest form on offer, too.

But at 3.412/5, any value in his price has long gone - I think he was 4-1 in a place this time last week - and it is not as if he lacks credible opposition.

Mehmas drifted to 12-1 with one firm in the immediate aftermath of his National Stakes second to Global Applause at Sandown - that lasted all of a minute, granted - and you can see the case for him back up to 6f, while the likes of Pyschedelic Funk, and maiden winners such as Thunder Snow and Mokarris, are also lively double-figure pokes.

This is not a race that I have a strong opinion about, but I am personally going to back Stoneyford Lane at 100.099/1 or bigger. Follow me in if you want.

Yes, I realise that "Steph Hollinshead wins the Coventry" is about an unlikely headline as "Donald Trump sports a new hairstyle at a Klu Klux Klan rally" but that is why we are getting the price. The old "unfashionable"yard, angle. There is no way he should be that a big price on what we know, though.

And what we know is that he needed all of Bath's 5f to win his debut on soft ground there - the runner-up Kreb's Cycle has won since and is a decent juvenile - and that was again the case when he came home well to finish second to Copper Knight in the Lily Agnes.

The step up to 6f on a more conventional track looks sure to bring about improvement, and we know that he handles soft ground well (as do most Bushranger's) and I can seriously see him outrunning his massive odds.


Worthy King's Stand favourites but no juice left in the prices

One bookmaker was sitting on his hands on Saturday morning when still offering 6-1 about Mecca's Angel after all the rain - you do wonder if some betting operations man their trading desks 24-7 these days - and that price has predictably crashed into 3.55 in the King's Stand at 15:40.

There is absolutely no juice in her price now, or Profitable at 6.411/2 either - though, unfortunately, both are quite clearly the likeliest winners - and my pin landed on the chances of Pearl's Secret and Sole Power at the prices.

I was going to give the old boy Sole Power - winner of the race in 2013 and 2014 - one last hurrah at 25.024/1 until they pulled him out on account of the ground on Monday morning.

That was a very strange call to me. He has run big races on good to soft in the past, including when third in this race in 2012, and indeed he ran very well from a bad draw when fifth in a heavy-ground Abbaye in 2012.

If I were having a bet it would be Pearl's Secret at 14-1+, but I am keeping my powder dry here.


Sit back and enjoy clash of three Guineas winners

The St James's Palace Stakes at 16:20 also looks more of a watching race to me. They clearly think the world of the The Gurkha, and the rain will suit Awtaad.

But the market has long since cottoned on to that, which has resulted in Galileo Gold drifting out to 7.06/1. That is a tempting price - all three Guineas winners are rated 120, for starters - but I am content to watch what promises to be a cracker of a contest.


Sous is my Pique in the Ascot Stakes

I couldn't argue with Pique Sous trading as the 7.413/2 favourite in the Ascot Stakes at 17:00 as the handicapper did him a decent turn when dropping him 2lb for his comeback run over an inadequate 1m4f at the Curragh last month.

Winner of the Queen Alexandra here two years ago, we know he stays, and he looks much the likeliest winner to me, but Galizzi was impressive at Goodwood, No Heretic was a good winner of the Chester Cup, the ground and trip will hold no fears for Jennies Jewel and Silver Concorde looks an obvious player.

You can make a case for a few but the more I looked at the race the more I thought the favourite was a fair price to follow up the stable's win in the race with Clondaw Warrior last year, and he is a small-stakes bet for me at 7.413/2. He handled soft ground well enough over hurdles.


Copper a big price to taste gold in Windsor Castle

Mister Trader looks a fair price at around 8-1 in the 24-runner Windsor Castle Stakes at 17:35 and his price could crash if the horse that beat him at the Curragh last time, a certain Caravaggio, wins the Coventry earlier in the card.

I will recommend a saver on him at 9.28/1 as he is the clear form horse, but I have to give Copper Knight another chance at 28.027/1 after his Sandown flop. Here is hoping the Lily Agnes form works out, then.

Copper Knight again hung badly - he would have beaten the Woodcote winner Legendary Lunch had he kept straight at Windsor - at Sandown last time, but his trainer has bitten the bullet and put blinkers on him. And he reports that he has worked well in them, too.

If that straightens him out, in more ways than one, then he has the talent to win this race - he is one of the form horses coming to the race, anyway - and the ground should hold no fears for him. Indeed, all his form has come with cut and he came back sore after running on fast ground at Sandown last time.


Recommended Bets

Back Toormore at 25.024/1 in 14:30
Back Cougar Mountain at 36.035/1 in 14:30

Back Stoneyford Lane at 100.099/1 in the 15:05
Back Pique Sous at 7.413/2 in the 17:00
Back Mister Trader at 9.28/1 in the 17:35
Back Copper Knight at 28.027/1 in the 17:35


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