Tuesday’s Royal Ascot Predictions: Tom Collins has outlined four selections on day one
19 June 2023
Royal Ascot - the standout flat meeting of the domestic season - is finally here and it will be greeted by beautiful summer weather barring the odd unseasonal shower on Tuesday.
Ground on the fast side of good is crucial in order to find plenty of winners this week given all recent form has come under similar conditions. An untimely downpour would put the formbook in the bin, especially for the two-year-old races, but fortunately that will not be the case!
I will be adopting a tentative approach on day one as my strongest selections this week, which include my NAP and NB, are set to run on Wednesday. That being said, there are some good opportunities to make some cash before then so let’s get straight into it.
3.05 Ascot, Group 2 Coventry Stakes
Aidan O’Brien has had mixed results in this premier two-year-old contest over the last seven years with two short-priced winners and two losing favourites. The master of Ballydoyle trains the market leader once again - but this one looks rather special.
River Tiber fairly obliterated his opponents on his first start at Navan back in April despite not overly appreciating the soft ground. It is worth noting that he was withdrawn ahead of his intended debut due to the similarly testing conditions. He earned an RPR of 104 for that ten-length success and showcased a mouth-watering cruising speed and blistering turn of foot.
O’Brien always leaves plenty to work on with his first-time starters, so there was no surprise to earn a better figure when he took the Coolmore Stud Calyx Race over five furlongs last time out. The quicker ground definitely brought around improvement - he’s by Wootton Bassett, so that was to be expected - and he hit the line very nicely over an inadequate trip. The step up to six furlongs is a huge positive and he looks extremely hard to beat.
I prefer him to Ripon winner Asadna, who impressed the clockwatchers first time up. He has admirable top-end speed but faces completely different conditions and much better rivals.
I will, however, place a saver on Bucanero Fuerte at a much bigger price after an impressive debut performance at the Curragh. Much like River Tiber, he should improve for the quicker conditions and he represents Amo Racing, who have thrived with their two-year-olds this campaign.
5.35 Ascot, Listed Wolferton Stakes
Frankie Dettori’s mounts are going to be overbet all week and, although he will probably ride a few winners, you should generally look elsewhere to find good value wagers. Wolferton favourite Saga is a prime example of an underlay - he’s 4/1 favourite at the time of writing despite needing to improve at least half a stone over an unknown trip.
John and Thady Gosden’s runner performed well to take second in the Britannia last year, but that was over a mile and this is a completely different test. Given he’s also a regular slow starter, I just have to take him on.
I respect last year’s runner-up Cadillac and might have a small saver on him, but my main bet will be Joseph O’Brien’s Buckaroo, who is taking a marked drop in class after finishing a close-up fourth in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp last time out. He wasn’t beaten far by Anmaat, who will be one of the market leaders for the Coral-Eclipse next month, and Light Infantry, who is 20/1 for the Queen Anne earlier on this card.
Buckaroo’s prior form is strong, too. He’s unbeaten in two starts in Listed company thanks to victories in the Heritage Stakes (April this year) and Tetrarch Stakes (May last year), and he showed a nice change of gear en route to a creditable second over this trip in last season’s Ballysax at Leopardstown. He looks like the class act in the Wolferton and I’m surprised he’s not vying for favouritism.
Selection: Buckaroo @ 6.8
6.10 Ascot, Copper Horse Handicap
Willie Mullins has two huge chances on the first day in the form of Bring On The Night (5.00) and Vauban, who will go to post as a hotly supported favourite in this event. There are numerous reasons for his dominance in the market: the ability he has shown over hurdles, his lenient handicap mark, inferior opposition, and his red-hot trainer and jockey combination.
This gelding won twice on the flat, which included a Listed event, in France before joining Mullins back in 2021 and has subsequently risen to the top over hurdles with three Grade 1 victories during his four-year-old campaign and consistent performances behind State Man and Constitution Hill in open company last winter.
He currently possesses a mark of 160 over hurdles yet can run off just 101 here, which should leave him around a stone well-in if he can translate his form. Good ground shouldn’t be an issue and I’m sure that Mullins will have him fit ahead of his summer target. Despite the seemingly short price, I’m more than happy to get stuck in.
Selection: Vauban @ 2.72
Tuesday’s Royal Ascot Predictions
19 June 2023