It's not often I make an Aidan O'Brien Classic winner the lay of the day but I am opposing Mother Earth in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at 16:20.
It's risky for sure, as she is unpenalised for her two Group 1 wins last year, whereas Saffron Beach has a 5lb penalty for hers. The reason is the cut-off point is August 31st and Mother Earth's wins in the 1,000 Guineas (by a length from Saffron Beach) and Prix Rothschild were before that, whereas Saffron Beach's Sun Chariot success (by three lengths from Mother Earth) came in October.
At another track, I might think twice about taking on Mother Earth but she is 0-3 at Ascot and underperformed when only third in the Coronation Stakes 12 months ago - passing Novemba in the final 100 yards without getting to Alcohol Free or Snow Lantern.
Mother Earth has had a lot of racing for a four-year-old, winning four of her 20 starts, and ran so poorly at Newbury in the Lockinge last time that I feel her best days are possibly behind her.
With Bashkirova and Sibila Spain running career bests last time, it is worth taking Mother Earth on at around 4.03/1.
Maria looks up against it
The day starts with the Queen Mary at 14:30 - a fast and furious sprint for two-year-old fillies.
I'm reluctant to take on Wesley Ward's Love Reigns, as you never know what you are going to get with American raiders.
Apparently she travelled over well enough but Ward says that of most of his runners at the Royal meeting and as many finish unplaced as placed.
Love Reigns was certainly impressive in winning her only start at Keeneland, but at 4.94/1 she is plenty short enough given it's a 21-runner race.
Scanning the field for a place lay, I've come up with David O'Meara's Maria Branwell.
A winner in relatively slow times at Thirsk and Sandown, she had to work for her victories whereas Dramatised and All The Time were far more impressive at York and Nottingham respectively.
Manhattan Jungle's three wins in France include a Listed at Vichy, yet she is twice the odds of Maria Branwell.
With so many in-form fillies in the line-up, I could see Maria Branwell finishing nearer last than first.
Legend looks out of his depth
Looking at the handicap ratings for the Queen's Vase at 15:05, the obvious place lay is Ruler Legend 4.216/5 .
His mark is 90 and he carries the same weight in this Group 2 as Hafit, Anchorage, Nahanni and Zechariah, all rated 100+. He also has to concede 3lb to three fillies rated superior to him - Typewriter, Perfect Alibi and Emotion.
Ruler Legend's pedigree has more stamina in it than most of his rivals have in theirs, but on form he looks a place lay.
Bay has to Bridge the Group 1 gap
Much as I like Bay Bridge as a horse - his turn of foot was stunning at Sandown last time - the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at 15:40 is his first Group 1.
His four opponents have been campaigned worldwide and won £12million between them. Bay Bridge has won just £121,500.
Should Bay Bridge really be as short as 2.47/5? There's not a lot to lose laying him at those odds and you have four multiple Group 1 winners running for you.
The Royal Hunt Cup at 17:00 with its 30 runners is surely a race to sit out. The favourite Astro King looks a place lay candidate at first sight, as he was unplaced at Thirsk in his prep for this race. His closest market rivals Legend Of Dubai, Dark Shift and Magical Morning all won last time out.
However, Royal Ascot-via-Thirsk is one of Sir Michael Stoute's tried and tested routes so I'm happy to watch and see if the gamble on Astro King comes off. I rather suspect it might, even though he hasn't won for over a year.
Far Shot should be a long shot
I'm surprised to see Far Shot as short as 109/1 for the Windsor Castle at 17:35.
Martin Harley had to push him out to the line to land some hefty bets at Yarmouth last week and this race may come too soon.
It's too early to know if the form will work out but the time was more that of a five-furlong seller than a maiden, so it's a definite 'no' from me. I will be laying him for a place 3.55/2.
There is nothing under 1110/1 I would lay win or place in the last - the Kensington Palace Handicap at 18:10.
The shortest-priced filly that needs to improve to be placed is Isola Rossa, 1615/1 for a win and 43/1 to make the first four.
She has not raced on turf since finishing ninth of 10 at Newmarket 12 months ago. She has started less than 8/1 in her last 14 races and her three wins all came on the all-weather at Lingfield.
Given she races off her highest mark on a surface she is not used to, she faces her stiffest task to date.