Skip to content

Day 1 Royal Ascot 2024: Analysing the Opening Race at Ascot

The opening day of Royal Ascot looks like a cracking card, with plenty of high-class horses on show and seven competitive races. The race I am most looking forward to seeing is the St. James’s Palace Stakes, where we will have a rematch between Rosalion and Notable Speech.
Royal Ascot

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes – Witch Hunter EW / Maljoom EW

We’ve got a proper puzzle to solve in the opening race at Royal Ascot. As I mentioned in my trends piece, horses who have run well in the Lockinge Stages have an excellent record in this race, and you don’t necessarily have to win it.

Even though Audience won the Lockinge, I’m not confident in his chances at Ascot, as there is going to be a lot off pace early on, and he’ll face competition for the lead. I think there could be a surprise here, and that’s why I am looking at two horses.

The first of them is Witch Hunter for Richard Hannon. He loves a strong pace, and he likes Ascot, having won at the Royal meeting last year in the Buckingham Palace Stakes. Furthermore, the five-year-old gelding didn’t run too badly in the Lockinge to finish in third place. With a lot of things in his favour, I can see him making the frame.

Maljoom is the other one I like for William Haggas. We’ve not seen too much of him in his career to date, but he probably should have won the St. James’s Palace Stakes in 2022, when he never got a clear run up the rail and he finished full of running. I think he’ll like the strong pace and the faster ground. Maybe it could be his time to shine.

3.05 Coventry Stakes – Catalyse EW / Arran EW 

The Coventry Stakes is the first of the two-year-old races at Royal Ascot. Being drawn in the three highest or lowest stalls has been a good recent trend, producing six of the last eleven winners.

One of the horses I want to keep on side that fits the bill is Arran for Paul and Oliver Cole. He is drawn in Stall 22. The son of Havana Grey created a good impression on his racecourse debut when scoring on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket. That day, he beat The Actor for Richard Hannon, who reopposes here and is a much shorter price. Moreover, the Coles have a good record in this race, winning it three times and having placed several horses, including Royal Scotsman. 

Catalyse is another horse I like. He was well on top when scoring at Hamilton over 6f and won eased down. It’s hard to know how good he could be, but I always like Richard Fahey juveniles at Royal Ascot. He’s got a record of winning the likes of The Ridler and Perfect Power in recent years, so he knows what he is doing. I just think he might be a horse to keep on side this season.

3.45 King Charles III Stakes – Kerdos EW 

This is a deep renewal of this race, but I think Kerdos could be the way to go. The four-year-old colt is improving well this season and was last seen posting a career-best performance to win the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock last time out. Furthermore, his sire Profitable won this race for the same trainer, Clive Cox, so maybe it’s in the blood. Also, he likes Royal Ascot, as he ran a good race to finish second in the Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes last year. If he can get a good break, I can see him going close.

4.25 St James’s Palace Stakes – Rosalion (Win)

I think Rosalion has a great chance of reversing the form with Notable Speech from the 2,000 Guineas. I just think Rossalion will improve by coming around a bend rather than racing on a stiff track. Along with that, I just don’t think he handled Newmarket that well and was unsuited by the drip. I can see him being able to use his acceleration to good effect, and I think we might see a better performance from him.

I know Notable Speech is undefeated and has won around a bend, but I just like the profile of Rossalion. Also, horses who raced in the English 2,000 Guineas and Irish 2,000 Guineas have an excellent record in this race in recent years, which can be seen with Paddington and Poetic Flare. If the ground remains quick, I think the son of Blue Point will take the beating.

5.05 Ascot Stakes – Pied Piper EW / Temporize EW

Pied Piper certainly has some unfinished business in this race when he came in sixth in 2022. He just didn’t get the clearest of runs that day and stayed on very strongly. Since then, he’s gone close in some big races, including last year’s Cesarewitch. I do think he’s on a workable mark, and the ground will be in his favour. If Jamie Spencer can get him a safe passage, this might be his day to get into the winner’s enclosure.

I will also be having a saver on Temporize for Syd Hosie. He ran very well on his seasonal return at Goodwood last month to finish second behind an improver, Pledgeofallegiance, who does reoppose here. However, I think he’ll be fitter for the run, and he doesn’t mind Ascot, as he ran a good race to finish second here last season. I think he can go well at a nice each-way price.

5.40 Hampton Court Stakes – Ancient Rome EW / Haunted Dream EW

This race is extremely wide open, so I’m going to take a swing at a couple. The first one is Ancient Rome for Charlie Hills. He was very impressive last season, winning a good handicap at Glorious Goodwood before going on to win a Grade 3 in the USA. The son of War Front can go well fresh and can handle most types of ground. He could definitely go under the radar.

Haunted Dream was the other on my shortlist. He caught the eye at Epsom last time out when things didn’t quite work out for him, and the form has since worked out well. He ran well on several occasions for Ed Dunlop last season and has done well for his new connections. I can see him being in contention here.

6.15 Copper Horse Handicap – Alsakib EW / Intinso EW

It’s going to be a hard end to the day, but again, I do like a couple to run well. Alsakib has an excellent record in handicaps, with two wins from three starts. He also likes Ascot after winning here last September. The last time he saw him, he ran in a Group 3 at Chester, where he was just outclassed. However, he did plug in on the closing stages, suggesting these extra couple of furlongs can suit. I think he’ll run well.

My other pick is Intinso for John and Thady Gosden. This horse has become a bit of a project for me, as I do think he’s going to win a big race someday, and maybe it will be at Royal Ascot. He’s been holding his form really well, but just keeps bumping into one or two better-handicapped rivals. The four-year-old gelding wears a first-time tongue tie, which may help his breathing. If it has a positive effect, maybe it will just help him get into the winners’ enclosure.

If you are having a bet at Royal Ascot then please remember to gamble responsibly.

Read also...
The opening day of Royal Ascot looks like a cracking card, with plenty of high-class horses on show and seven competitive races. The race I am most looking forward to seeing is the St. James’s Palace Stakes, where we will have a rematch between Rosalion and Notable Speech.
Read also...