Royal Ascot has finally arrived in all its historic glory but, under the cloud of COVID-19, things are a little different this year. What you won’t witness at Royal Ascot 2020 is the pomp and fanfare of the Royals, the wonder of the Royal carriage procession before the first race each day, the betting on the colour of Queen Elizabeth’s outfit, the usual Australian contingent contesting the Group 1 sprints and, most significantly, the stands packed with revellers sipping champagne and Pimms.
And yet, Royal Ascot will still be a festival, with 36 races – six more than usual – being run over five consecutive days from Tuesday to Saturday. It will feature some of the best horses in the world from the strongest stables, ridden by some of the world’s best jockeys.
This is a racing feast to savour, so put the car rug out on the lounge room floor, cool the champers and get ready for some great Royal Ascot betting and odds. Here are our previews of the five race days, with our tips for each.
ROYAL ASCOT PREVIEW & TIPS – DAY 1
Traditionally, the opening day of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting is ‘Australia’ day, due to the wonderful record of Australian sprinters in the feature sprint, the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m). It has been won by the Australian-trained stars Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and Scenic Blast.
Seven races are programmed on day one for your Royal Ascot tipping pleasure, including the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes over the straight ‘mile’.
Tuesday 16 June – 10.50pm
The Queen Anne Stakes is the premier Group 1 feature over the straight 1600m course at Ascot. Terebellum is a promising mare who resumed with an impressive win at Group 2 level at Newmarket on 6 June for trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori. She should be able to sit right on the pace in a field that lacks a bit of depth. Terebellum looks good value against the favourite Circus Maximus, trained by Aidan O’Brien; while Circus Maximus won the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot last year, it was not a high-rating race.
Mustashry can produce a high-rating performance and he has won over this course.
Queen Anne Stakes tips: Terebellum to beat Circus Maximus and Mustashry.
Tuesday 16 June – 11.25pm
A Group 2 race for three-year-old fillies over 2220m. Veteran superstar jockey Frankie Dettori and trainer John Gosden have the warm favourite Frankly Darling, a daughter of the great Frankel. However, stablemate Miss Yoda appeals on the strength of her win at Lingfield on 5 June. She did a lot wrong early but won well and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Ribblesdale Stakes tips: We’re sticking strongly with John Gosden’s two fillies, with a slight edge to Miss Yoda over the favourite Frankly Darling.
Wednesday 17 June – 12.35am
The premier Group 1 sprint over 1000m. Battaash is a brilliantly fast 1000m sprinter who has won 10 of his past 20 starts, but he hasn’t won at Ascot. He has chased home the top-class Blue Point in this race the past two years; with Blue Point now retired, Battaash gets his chance to win at this famous meeting. The only danger looks to be Glass Slippers, who has won her past three in France – two at Longchamp (1000m) and one at Deauville over 1200m. She has improved.
King’s Stand Stakes tips: Battaash to beat Glass Slippers, but back them both.
ROYAL ASCOT PREVIEW & TIPS – DAY 2
The main race on day two is the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, a race won by horses such as Highland Reel, the great Dubai Millennium and the Australian champion So You Think.
Wednesday 17 June – 10.15pm
This is a new race for handicappers, run over 1600m. Trainer Mark Johnston rarely leaves Royal Ascot without a winner and he has a good chance with Maydanny, a gelding son of former star Dubawi. He was fancied at York and won well on 3 June. Fit and ready to win again.
Silver Royal Hunt Cup tips: Maydanny, bet each way in an open race.
Thursday 18 June – 12.00am
The feature Group 1 race on day two, run over 2000m. Legendary trainer Aidan O’Brien saddles up the hot favourite Japan, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore. The son of Galileo hasn’t raced since finishing fourth in the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) at Longchamp in France in October. That should be good enough for him to win.
However, Australians will be keen to have something on Addeybb, who won the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in the autumn. He will be fit and could run a big race.
Prince Of Wales’s Stakes tips: Japan might be too good on class, but have a saver on Addeybb and/or Barney Roy, who likes the track.
Thursday 18 June – 1.10am
A 1000m race for two-year-olds. American trainer Wesley Ward has a wonderful record of bringing fast youngsters to win at Royal Ascot. He has two in this race – Sunshine City and Sheriff Bianco. The fact that Frankie Dettori will ride Sunshine City points to that filly’s favour. Aidan O’Brien’s Chief Little Hawk was an impressive debut winner in Ireland. Expect Yazaman, ridden by Tom Marquand, to run a cheeky race. He was good at York.
Windsor Castle Stakes tips: Sunshine City to win. Yazaman is the one at the long odds to watch.
ROYAL ASCOT PREVIEW & TIPS – DAY 3
It’s Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot, but with no crowds this year it will be Stradivarius day – for the little chestnut who is the premier stayer in England. He has won the Ascot Gold Cup (4000m) twice in the past two years and is attempting his third victory. Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has won this race a record seven times.
Thursday 18 June – 11.25pm
This is a Group 3 race over 1400m for three-year-olds. Sir Michael Stoute has trained six winners of this race but he doesn’t have a runner this year. This looks to be a race between two promising three-year-olds, King Leonidas and Lord Of The Lodge. King Leonidas is unbeaten in two starts, including at Newmarket on 7 June. Lord Of The Lodge was impressive at Newcastle in February.
Jersey Stakes tips: There’s enough value in this race to back King Leonidas and Lord Of The Lodge.
Friday 19 June – 12.00am
This is a feature two-year-old race over 1400m. Battleground, trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, did a lot wrong on his debut when fifth at Naas racecourse on 8 June. He’ll appreciate the extra 200m and Ryan Moore takes the ride again, so expect him to run very well.
Chesham Stakes tips: Battleground, each way, to beat Bright Devil and Modern News.
Friday 19 June – 12.35am
The premier race for stayers at this meeting, run over 4000m. Stradivarius might be small, but he’s a star stayer. He is aiming to win this race for the third time for trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori. The 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter and Technician look to be the only dangers.
Ascot Gold Cup tips: Stradivarius will be on tune to win again.
ROYAL ASCOT PREVIEW & TIPS – DAY 4
The newest Group 1 race on the Royal Ascot meeting is the Commonwealth Cup, a sprint race over 1200m for three-year-olds. It was first run in 2015, when it was won by Muhaarar. Last year Frankie Dettori won on Advertise, while Caravaggio won in 2017 for trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore.
This year’s Commonwealth Cup will be without last season’s best juvenile, Pinatubo, but it has attracted a top-class field.
Saturday 20 June – 12.00am
Punters interested in the Melbourne Cup 2020 will have an eye on the Hardwicke Stakes, run over 2220m. This race looks set for an Aiden O’Brien win, and the trainer has three top chances with Anthony Van Dyck, Sir Dragonet and Magic Wand – the latter should be very familiar to Australian punters.
On form and ratings, Anthony Van Dyck and Sir Dragonet should fight this out.
Hardwicke Stakes tips: The favourite is Anthony Van Dyck who, at his best, should hold off Sir Dragonet. Happy to back to favourite and save on the other horse.
Saturday 20 June – 12.35am
A Group 1 race for three-year-olds over 1200m. Looks like it will be a race between the promising Pierre Lapin and a colt proven at the highest level, Golden Horde. Both horses are resuming from long breaks. Royal Crusade, for the Godolphin stable, and the American filly Kimari, are expected to run well.
Commonwealth Cup tips: This is a terrific race. Golden Horde to beat Pierre Lapin.
Saturday 20 June – 1.10am
Another race that could have ramifications for the 2020 Melbourne Cup. This is a race for three-year-old stayers over 2847m, which was won by Hartnell in 2014. Berkshire Rocco, to be ridden by Oisin Murphy for trainer Andrew Balding, looks perfectly placed. He chased home the Epsom Derby favourite English King at Linfield on 5 June, and can be expected to race near the pace. Murphy and Balding combined to win this race last year with Dashing Willoughby.
Queen’s Vase tip: Easily Berkshire Rocco.
ROYAL ASCOT PREVIEW & TIPS – DAY 5
The final day of this five-day racing extravaganza. It finishes big with two of the best races of the week – the St James’s Palace Stakes (1600m), with the appearance of star colt Pinatubo, and the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m) for the top-flight sprinters. There is also plenty of interest around the two Group 2 races for the two-year-olds, the Queen Mary Stakes (fillies) and the Coventry Stakes (colts and geldings).
Saturday 20 June – 10.15pm
Aidan O’Brien has a big opinion of More Beautiful, who was brilliant in winning her only start at Naas on 8 June. She’s bred to be a star and she is the one to beat. Two dangers to More Beautiful look to be the American filly Campanelle and Sacred.
Queen Mary Stakes tips: More Beautiful to win, but if she’s too short, save on Campanelle and/or Sacred.
Sunday 21 June – 12.00am
All the race talk has been on trainer Charlie Appleby and Godolphin’s decision to run last season’s star colt Pinatubo in this race rather than the Commonwealth Cup on the previous night, when he looked better suited at the 1200m. Appleby is setting aside the colt’s third in the 2000 Guineas and feels he is a genuine 1600m horse that deserves his chance at a Group 1 over that distance. Aidan O’Brien’s Wichita finished second in the 2000 Guineas and he’s a serious threat to Pinatubo.
St James’s Palace tips: Stick with the judgement of trainer Charlie Appleby and take the healthy black figures on offer for Pinatubo.
Sunday 21 June – 12.35am
This is the premier sprint on at the Royal Ascot meeting and deserves equal billing with the St James’s Palace Stakes. All the money has been for Sceptical, who holds top place in Royal Ascot betting markets. The son of Exceed And Excel has won four from five in Ireland, all by healthy margins. He’s a rising star sprinter, but he’s only won a Listed race at Naas and this is a big step up. The value bet looks to be Hello Youmzain, who has won four from eight and was third in this race last year.
Diamond Jubilee Stakes tips: Hello Youmzain is proven at the highest level. Bet each way to beat Sceptical.