There is always real excitement when it comes to the first day of Royal Ascot and I just cannot wait. It really is such a magical place with all the glamour and such a great atmosphere. Plenty of people always ask me if I get nervous on the big occasions and the genuine truth is that I don’t. I feel completely relaxed on the back of a horse and once we leave the paddock it’s just a case of business as usual. All that said, it is a bit strange being so close to the Royal Family and seeing them in the flesh – I sometimes have to pinch myself. As for Tuesday, I have four nice rides to look forward to and my family will be there to watch too which makes it even more special. My wife Vicky will bring the kids and they will cheer me on from the stands…
BEAT THE BANK 2.30pm Queen Anne Stakes
For whatever reason he didn’t seem to run his race in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury for a second year in a row, but he bounced back to run well in this last season so hopefully he can do so again. He finished sixth behind Accidental Agent having been denied a clear run at a crucial time and I’m hoping he can return to form again. He produced a really nice performance at Sandown on his reappearance and won’t be far away if in the same form. This does look really competitive and a case can be made for about a dozen of the 16 runners. The likes of Le Brivido, Barney Roy, Mustashry and the filly Laurens all have major claims, but we will give it our best shot.
MAKYON 3.05pm Coventry Stakes
Judged on the way he handled the ground at Hamilton, I guess Makyon wouldn’t mind it if the forecast thunderstorms arrived early. He showed good speed and a nice attitude that day and stepped up from his debut at York. This will require another big step though, but he is a nice colt who deserves a tilt at a prize like this. Aidan O’Brien is always respected in a race like this and Arizona looked well above average at the Curragh last time and may take some stopping. I also hear plenty of good things about Richard Hannon’s Threat too.
FOX CHAMPION 4.20pm St James’s Place Stakes
My second Group One ride of the day and again in the blue and white King Power Racing colours. Fox Champion has been really progressive this season having won all three starts. He comes here on the back of winning the German 2000 Guineas in Cologne last time, but this is a big step up. Phoenix Of Spain and champion two-year-old Too Darn Hot set the bar very high and will be tough to beat. However, my colt is clearly in good form, has a lovely attitude and may just surprise a few of the well-fancied ones in this.
MANCINI 5.00pm Ascot Stakes
My final ride of the afternoon is Mancini who takes his chance in the Ascot Stakes over a marathon 2m 4f. This will be the first time I have ridden him, but he shaped nicely at York last time and I’m looking forward to it. This is the first time he has stepped up to a trip like this and I suppose we will only know whether he truly stays after the race! That’s the same for the bulk of these and we will give it a good go. The National Hunt trainers are always respected in this and I notice Gordon Elliott brings over a couple and Willie Mullins brings over one too. I suspect none of those three will be far away.
As for the other two races I don’t ride in, here are my thoughts…
3.40pm King’s Stand Stakes
Only the 12 runners in this with the top two in Battaash and Blue Point looking the obvious ones. Blue Point picked off Battaash late on last year, but I have a feeling Charlie Hills’ colt could gain his revenge this time. They are drawn wide apart and he looked to have matured at Haydock last time so may not misbehave as usual.
5.35pm Wolferton Stakes
You always need a bit of luck in a race like this with 16 runners and it looks as competitive and wide open as always. Mark Johnston’s Elarqam looked back to his best last time and could just be the one to beat. He was too good for Willie John at Goodwood and the pair look leading players again.
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