Sky Sports Racing presenter Alex Hammond prepares for five spectacular days at Royal Ascot as she considers possible stories for the week ahead.
The most famous gathering of the year has happened again, and this year’s Royal Ascot should be more ‘normal’ after being held behind closed doors in 2020 and with restricted crowds in 2021.
Here are some potential results that will make five days sensational for me in 2022.
star of the week
a bit like desert crown‘s demolition at Derby, Ascot will be set on fire if we see a superstar early on. baaid has the potential to be that star and Ascot won’t need a fireworks display to add atmosphere to the occasion if this guy does something spectacular on the Queen Anne.
It’s not an attractive 1/4 favorite betting proposition with Sky Bet, but it’s not always about that.
Hats off to the queen
Her Majesty has several chances during the week and after the Jubilee celebrations, the year would end if the Queen had a winner at Royal Ascot. She has a few dice rolls.
King’s Lynn may have had their work cut out for them against international opponents in the King’s Stand, while perfect alibi has the option of Queen’s Vase on Wednesday or Ribblesdale on Thursday.
naval School could make his handicap debut in the King George V Handicap on Thursday, course winner Saga and Kite are in Britannia on Thursday.
reach the moon is listed at Hampton Court on Thursday and looks to be the week’s best chance in a bid to provide Her Majesty with a 25th winner at the meeting.
Best bet(s) of the week
I have more than one, but the first one might also fall into the “long-term recovery mission” category.
Who can forget the pain of last year’s narrow loss to NAP MC Muldoon at last year’s Ascot Stakes? It’s etched in my memory, but I hope Willie Mullins can raise the price in 2022 with bring the night and get some sort of compensation.
This race is usually won by a jumping trainer, but that doesn’t help as the main protagonists are all from stables best known for their exploits in the winter game.
Gordon Elliott is responsible for the second favorite Flute player and Nicky Henderson seals another great candidate for a nameless horse.
Bring On The Night seems quite lacking in Flat, he is created for the game and started in a Flat yard in France with André Fabre for whom he was a winner. Ryan Moore does the rounds.
Another horse that will be on my radar, given a favorable draw, will be lady tilbury on Wednesday’s Queen Mary.
Gary Carroll rode Quick Suzy win this race last year and he knows what it takes to win this filly competition. The aforementioned double could constitute my (in)famous daily Sky Bet double, given a favorable tie for the latter.
Thanks to a fun quiz from my friend and colleague at Sky Sports Racing, Jamie Lynch, I found out that Australia has had 37 riders at Royal Ascot over the years.
The country has three this time around, two of which are coached by star player Chris Waller, Internal affairs on the Platinum Jubilee, and Range of Nature in the king’s gallery.
Tuesday’s King’s Stand promises to be a thriller with the world’s highest ranked sprinter, Nature Strip, taking on the world’s fastest horse at Wesley Ward’s golden friend who is rated at 3 pounds lighter than the Australian sprinter.
The connections of both can be satisfied with the high drawdowns they received. I prefer the horse that has traveled the furthest, as the steep five furlongs don’t seem so suited to the American sprinter. Sky Bet cannot split the pair which is 5/2 co-favourite, but I know who my bet is on!
And the double underneath? Internal Affairs is the newcomer to the sprint block in Australia, but has already beaten his illustrious stablemate.
After listening to an interview with Chris Waller over the weekend and his measured and meticulous approach to Ascot planning, I can see the likeable Kiwi returning to his foster home with a big sprint one-two.
long shot of the week
lady tilbury it almost falls into this category, although I would have expected it to be shorter considering the grandstand draw. So the horse I hope can give us something to twist against the tide is tasmanian bay in the Tuesday Wolferton Stakes.
If you want, Sky Bet pays five seats and at 10/1 it offers some value each way. It’s smaller than I expected, but booking Australian star James McDonald to ride won’t detract from its claims.
He’s been neutered since we last saw him in action and his performances behind Hurricane Lane, John Leeper, Alenquer, Baaeed and Dubai Honor look solid.
Ruling the head of the heart
Stradivari winning a record fourth Gold Cup would be the icing on the cake for this year’s Royal Ascot.
If the likeable, cheeky chappy can imitate Yeats at the age of eight, that would be a remarkable feat for anyone who cares for the horse.
He is remarkably resilient and has a great character, and all credit goes to John and Thady Gosden for keeping his energy channeled in the right direction year after year.
He went to sire at the end of this campaign and it would be heartening to see him kicked out in a moment of glory. It would also advertise its strength, build, and longevity, which I hope will inspire creators to use it in the coming year.
See you there everyday with our top team at Sky Sports Racing for a week-long fireworks display – we’ll have plenty of tips from our cool crew, so look forward to an impressive week, sprinkled with lots of winners.