Next week's Royal Ascot meeting has been pushed to a higher level on the international stage and is proving to be consistently more exciting for horse racing fans in recent years thanks to the exploits of foreign raiders to the Berkshire venue with the primary target for such raids being the sprints and juvenile races.
There has been an almost continuous stream of international challengers for the weeks big sprints – the King’s Stand Stakes and the race now known as the Diamond Jubilee Stakes since Choisir completed a memorable double for Paul Perry back in 2003.
Lady Aurelia (5/2 with William Hill) looks to have the best chance of providing her trainer Wesley Ward with an eleventh Royal Ascot success and in the process improving on his current 21% strike-rate (10/48) at the venue with his first victory coming on the opening day of the 2009 meeting when Strike That Tiger took the concluding race.
The daughter of Scat Daddy is no stranger to success at this meeting having taken out the Queen Mary Stakes two years ago and this contest last year. With similar ground conditions forecast she looks likely to put in a bold show in her bid for a repeat success in this contest following a shock defeat at Keeneland last time out.
Spanish trainer Mauricio Delcher-Sanchez is another who has tasted success in this contest in the past with his Equiano seeing off twelve rivals when taking the 2008 running of this contest and his representative this time around Finsbury Square (33/1 with Paddy Power) looked an improved performer when putting in a career best effort to take the 5f Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chene when making his debut for the yard at Chantilly earlier this month. The Siyouni gelding has had to be supplemented to the race at a cost of £45,000 and he will be looking to repay them come Tuesday afternoon.
Bucchero (33/1 with Ladbrokes) completes the international contenders for the 5f contest and he has placed twice in Graded stakes company this year and with good efforts on both firm ground and soft ground he adds a further dimension with trainer Tim Glyshaw having his first runner at the meeting.
Lady Aurelia (16/1 for Betway) holds a further engagement in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the Saturday of the meeting where she could be joined by stablemate Bound For Nowhere (12/1 888Sport) who had Bucchero behind him when winning impressively in Grade 2 company at Keeneland in April, form which is working out well.
Australian raider Redkirk Warrior (13/2 with Sun Bets) could also go in the Diamond Jubilee and he comes into this the winner of both starts this term including in the prestigious Lexus Newmarket Handicap, a Group 1 contest over 6f at Flemington last time out while the third that day Merchant Navy (4/1 Coral) could also contest the feature race having joined Aidan O’Brien and won at The Curragh since that effort.
The Japanese-bred colt Yoshida (16/1 with Coral) recorded his maiden Grade 1 triumph when successful in the Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes over 1m1f on yielding ground on the undercard of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs last month and while Tuesday’s Queen Anne Stakes is likely to demand more trainer Bill Mott is an infrequent visitor to this meeting and his contender demands utmost respect.
Trainer Wesley Ward is best known for his exploits in the two-year-old races at Royal Ascot and in the shape of Chelsea Cloisters he appears to have a leading contender for the Queen Mary Stakes on the Wednesday of the meeting, a race he’s won three times in the past including in both 2015 and 2016. Chelsea Cloisters impressed when winning by eight lengths at Keeneland in April and could make her turf debut here.
Hemp Hemp Hurray could represent the trainer in either the Commonwealth Cup (50/1 Sun Bets) over 6f or the furlong further Jersey Stakes (14/1 Ladbrokes) following an impressive win at Turfway Park last time.
Our Passion (4/1 Ladbrokes) and Moonlight Romance could contest the Windsor Castle Stakes on Saturday with the latter having won at the second time of asking at Belmont Park last time out. A win for the stables Shang Shang Shang (6/1 Coral) in the Norfolk Stakes on the Thursday would be a pointer to Moonlight Romance’s chances given she’d chased home her stablemate on debut in April.
Stillwater Cove (10/1 Paddy Power) could take in the Albany Stakes on the Friday, a race that Ward has yet to win while the trainer could have a first runner in the Royal Hunt Cup with his Master Merion (25/1 Betfair Sportsbook) expected to line up in the mile contest while he could also be represented by course and distance winner Undrafted (20/1 Blacktype) in the Wokingham Stakes.
There’s also likely to be numerous French runners throughout the week with top stayer Vazirabad a possible runner in the weeks feature race the 2m4f Gold Cup due to take place on Thursday.