Royal Ascot

Daryl Carter's Tips: 10/1 Maljoom can kick start Day One at Royal Ascot

Daryl Carter.
Daryl Carter says Maljoom can kick start Ascot with a bang

Daryl Carter looks to hit the ground running with his Day 1 Royal Ascot NAP in the opening race of the meeting and has five further selections for followers...

Day One Royal Ascot 2024 Superboost

2024 Royal Ascot is finally here! And with Betfair we have some great value on offer for the opening day on Tuesday!

Betfair ambassador Ryan Moore has a great chance on Henry Longfellow in the St James's Palace Stakes at 16:25 today, and if you fancy the horse to run well you can back it at the super-boosted price of 1/12.00 from 1/41.25 to finish in the top four today.

14:30 Ascot - Back Maljoom @ 10/111.00 1pt e/w (4 places)

This is a fabulous opener to the meeting with many who are much respected in a wide-open renewal. Still, the expected rain has failed to materialise, and the ground now reads on the quicker side of good.

Charyn 11/43.75 has been well-found at the head of affairs, but it was a tough race he endured in the Lockinge when unable to peg back Audience, and it's likely the expected weather conditions which have failed to come to fruition is a contribution to his place at the top of the market. He is sure to run to a high level and is a perfectly acceptable winner of the race, rightly towards the fore of the betting, with the Sportsbook ducking each-way bets by pricing him defensively, but he must drift. His reliable profile and the excellent record of the four-year-old generation are the correct reasons for the traders to keep him on the side.

However, he needs to step forward to land his first Group 1, even in an open renewal.

Facteur Cheval 3/14.00, who put in a career-best effort when landing the Dubai Turf on his seasonal return and having shaped exceptionally well behind Big Rock on Champions Day, should be holding Charyn's position at the top of the market. His Dubai form looks the strongest on offer, with the runner-up filling the same spot subsequently in the Japan Yasuda Kinen Group 1 behind Romantic Warrior, who was racking up a fourth Group 1 win. Romantic Warrior had beaten Luxembourg (well behind Facteur Cheval in Dubai) in the Hong Kong Cup during that run of victories suggesting we are looking at 120-rated form.

Further conviction of that comes through the third, who had finished in the runner-up position in the same race last year behind Lord North (very unlucky in the run), and the fourth Measured Time, who won a Grade 1 in Saratoga next time out over the 120-rated Nations Pride. The seventh won a Group 3 next time in France, scoring over Al Hakeem, and in third was Zarir - a head runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Ganay previously with Feed The Flame, Al Riffa, and subsequent Group 1 runner-up (short head) Horizon Dore behind.

Lord North ties in closely with Charyn, but one suspects he is not the same horse he was 12 months ago. Looking closer at Facteur Cheval's effort here on Champions Day, I can see he was given a poor ride by Mickael Barzalona. He broke well, was taken back through the field, and found himself with no run behind a wall of horses. He would have almost certainly been closer to the winner had he run a true race rather than a stop-start one. It was a strange ride given by Maxime Guyon, but he was the only horse to come from off the pace to challenge the winner - he should have that run significantly marked up, considering he could peg back a multiple Group 1 Filly in Tahiyra.

Maxime Guyon taking over in the saddle is a big upgrade, having partnered him to success in Dubai and going close behind Paddington at Goodwood last year (Charyn behind), where he was better than the bare result, having been denied a clear run. Facteur Cheval is a genuine Group 1 horse who holds the best form in the race on many levels, and he is entirely unexposed on a quicker surface for which his pedigree would give confidence that he can improve further.

The third and final piece of form conviction comes from his head third in the Prix d'Lsphan behind Light Infantry (117 and third in this race in 2023) and Anmaat (120) with the Group 1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois placed (behind Inspiral) Erevann in fifth.

When deeply examining his profile, he ticks all the form boxes, has been saved for this race, and is seven pounds better off with Charyn from their Goodwood meeting, so all looks in place for a huge run if he can repeat his effort in Meydan.

However, the concern will come at the finish of this stiff 1m test. He clung on at Meydan, and one or two of them had been unlucky in the run. I'm concerned he will be vulnerable inside the final furlong to a stronger stayer - as he was at Goodwood behind Paddington in the Sussex Stakes last term. So, while punters must respect him, he could just fall foul at the finish. He is priced correctly around the 3/14.00 mark, but I am looking for something with a finishing kick.

Big Rock's change of scenery over the winter and now jockey looks like a complication unneeded for his followers. He put in such a big performance here last term in defeating Facteur Cheval that it's unwise to expect that effort again under quicker conditions. He would prefer slower ground, but he also has some serious form. Audience and possibly the surprise entry Royal Scotsman will look to take him on for the lead in what could turn out to be a well-run affair.

For that reason, Maljoom - 10/111.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - has to be a play here. He looked like a special three-year-old steaming home from off-the-pace in the Group 1 St James's Palace two seasons ago. I genuinely said after the race that we would never get 10/111.00 on that horse again, and here he is just three starts later. Following that race, he suffered an injury that had kept him off the track for a long while, and there's little doubt that his conections have been patient in their approach. Still, there was much more promise to take from his latest Listed defeat over course and distance on unfavoured ground 48 days ago to Docklands.

It was a small field contest where he was forced to make his own running in a field of hold-up performers. On reflection, nothing could go his early gallop, and with a naturally long stride, it was clear rider Tom Marquand wanted to get a good piece of work into him so that form is not taken literally.

His seasonal return was undoubtedly treated as no more than a prep race for this meeting, and much better can be expected, as he faced a quicker surface and a strong gallop to aim at over this stiff 1m. He will almost certainly revert to hold-up tactics, and having recorded an RPR of 120 at this meeting two years ago - only Big Rock, Audience, and Facteur Cheval have recorded better - he is certainly up to the level of this open Group 1 contest.

He has been underestimated, with improvement expected on his seasonal return for a yard that has seen its runners improve on their second outing this season. William Haggas' form figures in this race read 1832, and he is not just here as a social runner. With extra places on offer, he looks like a bet at 10/111.00 or bigger, hoping to put in a career-best under optimal circumstances.

Royal Scotsman bounced back to form with an all-the-way victory when winning the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom last time, and he now arrives here following a career-best effort. He was always plying his trade at the top level last term and as a two-year-old, and his recent Epsom confidence booster could see him return to the form that saw him finish a narrow second in the Dewhurst as a three-year-old. The good record of four-year-olds in this race also makes him an attractive proposition. A line through Diomed third Highland Avenue, who ties in with Anmaat from their meeting in the Gordon Stakes at Newmarket last term, suggests Royal Scotsman has little to find with Facteur Cheval - although one through Paddington may suggest otherwise.

Still, on his very best day, Royal Scotsman would be on the premises, and he looks overpriced on the promise of his three-year-old season with excuses for his Lockinge run when tried on in a first-time tongue tie.

In conclusion, the stand-out form setters are the French raiders Big Rock and Facteur Cheval. With questions over the former and the price short enough about the latter with possible vulnerabilities at the death, and with four places on offer, it's worth chancing that the least exposed runner in the field, Maljoom, is set up for a career-best and can bounce back.

It's wise to keep Royal Scotsman on the side for those looking to keep in line with the trends (I have had a personal saver).

15:05 Ascot - Back The Actor @ 12/113.00 1pt e/w

The Coventry Stakes usually throws up a smart type, and there are lots of promising horses with entirely unexposed profiles, so confidence can only be so high. However, Richard Hannon usually puts his best two-year-old into this race, and The Actor - 12/113.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - has impressed in two outings to date.

He is small, compact, and a real grinder and may hold less future promise than one or two, but he certainly has shown enough to think he can play a hand in this event. Many of these are future improvers, but the here-and-now horse is The Actor.

He impressed on debut at Newmarket behind Arran, but the pace of the race didn't suit him, and he was very strong at the finish, closing on the winner through the line, having changed his legs once hitting the uphill section of the track. He took a good step forward at the same venue when landing a £40,000 Novice event over useful debutant Tropical Storm, needing every inch of the 5f distance to claw back the winner.

That form looks good. The third won at Lingfield next time in good style, the fourth won emphatically at Newbury next time out, the sixth was an impressive winner at Lingfield, and the seventh won at Haydock.

The form is potent, but the most impressive part was fourth furlong selectional, which clocked a remarkable 10.67 seconds. To put that into perspective, this race has yet to match that turn of foot, with the favourite Cowardofthecountry yet to dip below 12.01.

He will relish today's move up in distance with his Dam a winner at 1m2f, and today's fast surface will be right up his street. If he can keep his cool at the start, he should be playing a hand in this finish. He looks like an exciting prospect.

Back him at 12/113.00 or bigger.

15:05 Ascot - Back Symbol Of Honour @ 20/121.00 0.5pt e/w

I want to have a small bet also on Symbol Of Honour--20/121.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook--who has shockingly been ditched by William Buick. That may be a telltale sign that I am off the trodden path, but he impressed me with how he went through the race at Lingfield last time, and he has the makings of a very smart sprinter.

He was behind The Actor at Newmarket, but it's worth putting a line through that. He failed to handle the track and was clueless about his job.

Still, he was the choice of Buick over Al Qudra that day - despite that runner having heled experience - and he went off a 2/13.00 favourite for the race. He still needed the experience at Lingfield, but it was never better than when going through the line. Today's flat track and fast ground are optimal conditions. He is certainly worth a saver at a wild price, and 16/117.00 or bigger is acceptable.

15:45 Ascot - Back Rogue Lightning @ 10/111.00 1pt e/w

Rogue Lightning - 10/111.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - is too big of a price, having made an encouraging seasonal return at Haydock when stuck in the mud and in need of the outing. The betting told a story on that occasion, going from 4/15.00 to a whopping BSP of 11.23. He did his best work at the finish, and I expect him to improve significantly for this faster ground now he is race-fit.

The four-year-old shot through the handicap system last term before catching the eye in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp Longines from an impossible draw. He was continuously denied a clear run and finished on the bridle. One or two others suffered the same fate, but he showed plenty of dash to think he was a Group 1 winner in waiting.

This division lacks a star, which could come from the three-year-olds, but the clock suggests the selection has little to find. This race has been run at around 58 seconds on good to firm, and he has shown the ability to record such a number with only a handful of others.

The each-way value on him looks very fair indeed, and this big-money purchase could easily have a career-defining season ahead of him. He appeals at 8/19.00 or bigger.

Of the rest, Big Evs is much respected, as is Valliant Force, who recorded a good number at this meeting last year (quicker than Big Evs) when landing the Norfolk. The latter was unlucky when he and Big Evs met in America, coming fast and late, and he should be suited by a return to this track and a stiff finish.

16:25 Ascot - No Bet

I've decided to sit out of this race and watch. I like the chances of Rosallion, but I felt I was pulling straws after having done a final overview of the race. This is a cracking contest. Henry Longfellow would have been my pick of these as a two-year-old, but I am not sure he is quick enough.

However, he may get on the front end and be well-positioned. The opposite could happen with Rosallion in stall one. He may find himself on the rail, but that's not where I want to be turning for home. In that instance, he could give the first run to Notable Speech and come fast and late. There's also Almaqam, who is a strong stayer at this trip. All in all, the 7/24.50 into 11/43.75 about Rosallion was a market correction, and I didn't feel there was enough juice in the price to get involved. At 4/15.00 I am a player though.

17:05 Ascot - No Bet

I decided to sit this race out, but Emmet Mullins' Almuhit was the closest I came to bet. He is not straightforward, though, and it will be an uneasy watch, but he is talented if putting it all in, and he is fairly handicapped.

However, this big field scenario may not suit him if he gets trapped against the rail. There are too many unknowns to advise a bet, especially without the headgear he typically wears, but I will be watching closely.

17:40 Ascot - Back Botanical @ 4/15.00 1.5pt

Botanical - 4/15.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - needs to take a step forward to win this on the bare form of his seasonal return at York, but it's wise to think he has plenty more to offer yet after just a handful of runs.

The four-year-old has progressed with each run to date, with his only real blip here at Ascot when forced to suffer a sedate pace at the rear of a small field tactical event. Still, even on that occasion, he finished with running left.

Form hopes can be pinned on his excellent second at Kempton last August to the smart Measured Time. A horse that got first run on him that day and has progressed to win a Group 1 in Saratoga on his latest start. Measured Time was fourth behind Facteur Cheval in Meydan in the Dubai Turf, and as mentioned in this column, that is a potent form line. Further confidence can be taken from how well he dismissed this year's Doncaster Lincoln winner at Hamilton last term, and providing William Buick can get him a good position from his draw in stall 13, he should be going close.

Roger Varian won this race last year and in 2020, and this owner outfit likes to target this assignment, so he gets the vote over Torito to come out on top. Torito should be considered having run-on at Newmarket on his seasonal return, and he was a good fourth in the Hampton Court at this meeting last year. There's good reason to expect him to step forward from Newmarket, and he is feared most. Stall two may pose its own issue, though.

I am happy at 4/15.00 or bigger for the selection.

18:15 Ascot - Back Alsakib @ 12/113.00 0.5pt e/w (5 places)

There are many to consider in this contest, but Alsakib - 12/113.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - is a group horse in a handicap here, and if he can defy his big weight (weights are compressed with the bottom rated 96), then he may take an awful lot of beating.

The four-year-old found the Chester assignment too sharp for him last time when behind the smart Point Lonsdale, but he did remarkably well, coming from well off the pace to finish a staying-on third.

His seasonal return at Newbury behind Hamish on unfavoured slow ground was also encouraging. Now dropping in class and given a stiffer stamina test, he could be ready for a career-best effort. He scored at this venue last term in emphatic style over True Legend, which ties in with some of the best staying-handicap form on offer, but he has left the impression that this trip is what he wants.

He is unexposed on a quicker surface and he is fancied to land the odds off a big weight.

There's little doubt Willie Mullins' Belloccio will be popular and should be on his Kempton form. However, he needs to transfer that to turf. My Mate Mozzie has been targeted at this race, but he has now been beaten when trading at 1.51/2, 1.111/9 and 1.664/6 in three of his last four flat outings. So perhaps put an in-running lay if you like him.

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2024 P/L = Next update (monthly) JULY 1st

2024 P/L = +59.85.43 ROI 12.67%

BSP P/L = +64.5 ROI 13.66%

2024 P/L Ante-post = -1


2021 P/L = +187pts 12% ROI

2022 P/L = + 137.1pts ROI 8.72% +22.7pts BSP 1.44% ROI

2023 P/L = +112.63pts ROI 8.86% +99.4pts BSP 7.84% ROI

2023 P/L (Incl ante) Total = +146.63 ROI 11.5%


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.