BY: Craig Simpkin
Royal Ascot is one of the most eagerly awaited meetings in the horse racing year, with thousands of people flocking to the course and many more placing a few wagers from the comfort of their own home.
The festival dates back an incredible 300 years, and is a showcase of some of the finest young horses in racing today.
With 30 races taking place across five days, there are plenty of opportunities for bettors to get stuck in and make some money. Let’s take a look at two of the biggest – the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee – which have prize pools of £525,000, as well as the ultra-competitive Coronation Stakes.
The Prince of Wales Stakes (June 17, 4:20pm UK time)
There are plenty of up-and-coming stars in this one, but much of the spotlight will fall on Free Eagle (3/1) and Grey Gatsby (5/1).
The favourite Free Eagle offers plenty of potential and has some good wins under his belt in a short career to date. That said, he’s only raced four times – and whilst he’s looked the real deal there are still question marks over his suitability for soft ground (should the forecast heavy rainstorms come).
So instead many are preferring Grey Gatsby, a proven winner who has the added bonus of three-time champion jockey Ryan Moore on board. He piloted the four-year-old to victories in the two Group One wins last season, and so the omens are good here.
An outsider to watch is Gailo Chop at the generous price of 20/1. This talented horse has won four times out of five in races over ten furlongs, and even gave the hotly-tipped Solow a run for his money just a matter of weeks ago. A decent each way shout at the price then.
Coronation Stakes (June 19, 4:20pm UK time)
This mile long jaunt is a real blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type race, and there are plenty of powerful sprinters ready to enter the winners’ enclosure on Friday.
The Irish filly Found has yet to finish outside of the top three in six starts, and should be in the mix once again as the 7/4 favourite. Trained by the famous Aiden O’Brien yard, she finished second in the recent Irish 1000 Guineas.
Ervedya (7/2) has won in her last two outings and looks the real deal.
And Lucida (5/2), despite not being a prolific winner, is another Irish fill with plenty to offer. Having finished second in the 1000 Guineas, there can be no doubting her pedigree.
Diamond Jubilee Stakes (June 20, 4:20pm UK time)
Brazen Beau (5/2) will start as the bookmakers’ favourite after a handy win in the Group One Newmarket Handicap earlier in 2015. Australian horses have a strong pedigree in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, and it looks like another contender has been rolled off the conveyor belt.
He will have to watch out for Mustajeeb (11/2) however; the Dermot Weld trained colt has looked a class act so far.
And the plucky Lucky Kristale (20/1) offers some genuine each way value at the price after finishing second in her first race with blinkers fitted last time out, and two easy wins in Group Two races prior to that.