AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: Royal Ascot Opening Day

Welcome to Royal Ascot 2015

Or (with the help of Google translate)

For Japanese readers…

For Spanish readers…
Bienvenido a Royal Ascot 2015

For French readers…
Bienvenue à Royal Ascot 2015

For Russian readers…
Добро пожаловать в Royal Ascot 2015

For Czech readers…
Vítejte na Royal Ascot 2015

Yes, it’s truly now an international meeting. For years Ascot have promoted their flagship meeting overseas and dangled the considerable prize money and prestige angles and are now rewarded with a fantastic mix of the world’s top equine stars.

Five days of fantastic racing start with three Group 1’s on Tuesday on ground described by Ascot’s clerk of the course Chris Stickels on Channel 4’s Morning Line as good, good to firm in places.

ablefriendThe international feel to this week’s racing hits you from the very first race – the superb Queen Anne Stakes over a mile in which it’s an odds-on chance that it will go to either the Hong Kong superstar Able Friend (pictured) or the French trained Solow. Able Friend is the world’s top miler and has been reported as working well but this is Berkshire and not Sha Tin so it’s impossible to say for sure how he will cope with the occasion. Solow slammed The Grey Gatsby by over four lengths in the Dubai Turf at Meydan but this is the fastest ground he has encountered today.

Richard Hannon has a good record in the curtain raiser (won it last year with Toronado) and has a solid pair in Night Of Thunder and Toormore. They often race together and Night Of Thunder proved a neck superior when they last met in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

It’s a tough starter but Able Friend for me.

19 sprinters got to post for the King’s Stand Stakes at 3.40 and the Eddie Lynam trained Sole Power will go into the record books if he can win the race for a third successive year. He met plenty of trouble in running last year before going on to win impressively (takes some doing in an ultra competitive 5f race) which makes you wonder what he would have done if he’d got the rub of the green? His comeback run at the Curragh is probably worth disregarding in the context of this race given it was over six furlongs and on good to yielding ground. The minimum trip has always been his optimum.

Rather than trying to oppose him, my angle is to find an each-way bet in the race and I like Mecca’s Angel on this basis. Trained in County Durham by Michael Dods this is a sprinter who is in the very peak of form. She is seemingly still improving and after Group 3 wins at Newbury and Longchamp (where she broke the course record) deserves to take her chance at the top table.

Dods is likely to take a late view on the ground as she is untested on anything faster than good. He told the Northern Echo: “Even at this stage, if we feel things have gone too firm, she won’t run. You’d like to think that the first day of the meeting would see the ground at its softest. I’m sure they won’t want to be watering all week, so if there’s any doubt, you’d think they’d err on the side of caution for the first day and then let nature take its course after that. It’s obviously a big step up, but I think that’s the level we have to aim at with her now. She’ll be taking on the best sprinters in Europe, but she’s earned the right to be competing at that level and we’ll just have to see how she goes. We understand it’s a big challenge, but she’s handled every challenge she’s faced so far and there’s no reason to think this will be any different.”

billyeSo it’s Mecca’s Angel (EW) as my main bet on day one. On a day when the best international superstars strut their stuff on the main stage it might just be the girl from County Durham that impresses most. The female Billy Elliot if you like.

The final Group 1 of the day is the St James’s Palace Stakes and sees many peoples idea of the banker of the week in Gleneagles who looks set to follow up on his dual Guineas successes at Newmarket and the Curragh.

I agree with the view on the Morning Line that he looks too short but equally hard to oppose. With Consort and Make Believe still very much still full of potential – layers of the favourite will cling to this duo for hope but if you rely on the formbook there can only be one winner.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-50 points)

BACK MECCA’S ANGEL (3.40 Royal Ascot) for 4 points ew at around 13/2 with Star Sports


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