As flat racing meetings go, they don’t come much better or more regal than Royal Ascot.
The Queen has attended each year for well over three decades, and Her Majesty’s seal of approval is confirmation of five days of outstanding racing from the infamous Berkshire track.
There is a rather blue-blooded feel to the racecard, with the likes of the Queen Anne Stakes, Prince of Wales Stakes, King Edward VII Stakes….you get the picture.
Roughly 25% of the UK flat racing season’s Group 1 races will take place at the festival, and so it is no surprise to see the world’s best horses, jockeys and trainers eyeing up glory in front of a packed crowd.
Never to be outdone, there is some intriguing American prospects making the trip to Ascot, and here are four that could well come up trumps for punters.
American Patriot (Queen Anne Stakes, June 20)
The bookmakers have the first feature race of Royal Ascot – the Queen Ann Stakes – down as something of a jolly with Ribchester the obvious tip at around the 4/5 mark. And why not? The market has moved in response to what is an outstanding horse.
But as we know, there are no gimmies in horse racing; especially in a renewal as prestigious and traditionally competitive as the Queen Anne.
There’s a really intriguing American connection making the trip to Ascot, and that’s the appropriately-named American Patriot. This four-year-old will go off at something like the 20/1 mark after a really impressive showing last time out.
Squired by Javier Castellano, American Patriot upset the odds to land the GI Maker’s 46 Mile from the fancied Heart-to-Heart, and a couple of eye-catching runs in the summer of 2016 suggest there is plenty of potential here.
You can never quite tell how a horse will make the trip over the pond, but Todd Pletcher’s charge is being respected by the bookies and could land an almighty upset to kick off the meeting.
Declarationofpeace (Coventry Stakes, June 20)
There is a lengthy US connection here: Declarationofpeace is the offspring of War Front and Serena’s Cat, and he was picked up by the prolific Magnier, Smith & Tabor connection as a horse of huge promise.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien at the Ballydoyle yard, this two-year-old has the potential to achieve big things in flat racing, and he couldn’t wish for a safer pair of hands to guide his career.
Third on debut in April, he went on to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden a month or so ago by six clear lengths, and the nature of that victory really was a tantalising glimpse into his potential. He drew clear and stayed on well, so anticipation is growing ahead of his debut on UK soil at Ascot.
In a renewal featuring equally as naïve young steeds, the 7/1 hope could take the spoils if he fancies the trip.
Mcerin (Norfolk Stakes, June 22)
It’s early days as far as the declaration stages for Ascot go, but for now the promising Mcerin has been installed as the favourite for the Norfolk Stakes.
Punters can take advantage of the 4/1 mark available about Wesley Ward’s charge, and while only a pair of races into his career the two-year-old is making excellent progress.
He has previous of favouritism having landed his maiden outing on US soil as a 9/5 hope, and he followed that with a third place in a decent Kentucky Stakes renewal.
As with all the American runners you just never know how well he will take to the Ascot turf, but of all the US-based or owned runners at the festival, Mcerin is perhaps the most intriguing.
Homesman (King Edward VII Stakes, June 23)
The King Edward VII Stakes is shaping up to be an ultra-competitive affair with five horses priced at 10/1 or shorter at the time of writing, but it is an American fancy at around 20/1 who catches the eye.
Homesman has been well worked in 2017 so far but has not been found wanting. He took the spoils in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Maiden in April before finishing a close second in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Race a couple of weeks later.
But the jewel in the crown was undoubtedly his triumph in the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes just a few weeks ago. With the outstanding Ryan Moore on board, the 5/1 hope took down the field in what was a performance of genuine merit.
Another with O’Brien connections, if the Irish trainer can persuade Moore to once again take the ride on Homesman at Ascot he could certainly trouble the places at the very least.