by Johnny D
June 14, 2021
Used to be that yours truly couldn’t give a leaky brolly for racing across the pond at Ascot Racecourse. Then, in 2009, US-based trainer Wesley Ward won the Windsor Castle stakes at the venerable meeting with 33-1 Strike the Tiger and it was big news. I wondered, why? Stateside, Ward, seemingly wins dozens of 2-year-old dashes and no one blinks. The next day, Ward won again with Jealous Mary in the Grade 2 Queen Again and the Brits were as apoplectic as if Big Ben had been muted.
In 2016, on opening day, the missus and I actually ‘went racing’ at Ascot and it was as much a spectacle as it appears on broadcasts. We touched base with old pals Ward, jockey Frankie Dettori and trainer John Gosden; proudly watched as US-based mare Tepin and jockey Julien Leparoux won the Grade 1 Queen Anne and applauded as the Queen Mother arrive in splendor. Unfortunately, we misfired with bookies on the color of the Queen’s hat; the first, but not nearly the last, errant punt of the afternoon. Despite all that, for some reason, the wife seemed most interested in a gander at a pre-Meghan Prince Harry.
Also, that day, for the first and only time in my life, I purchased a ‘bag of champagne’ for my wife. It was a split of Veuve Clicquot travelling in a clear plastic bag, including ice and handles. That Ascot officials permit fans to stroll the grounds toting bottles and ice cubes was culture-shock. Stateside, during Eagles’ games at the Linc, concession workers dutifully confiscate caps from plastic water bottles as if they were tiny hand grenades.
Tuesday is opening day at Ascot and there’s a fantastic promotion you might like. Get 10X XB Reward Points for your wagers when you play with Xpressbet and 1/ST BET over five days and 35 Ascot races, including 19 graded stakes. First post is 9:30 a.m. ET daily. Complete details here.
Opening day, Ward will saddle two of nine planned Ascot starters—#17 Kaufymaker (5-2 odds) in the Group 2 Coventry (Second Race), for 2-year-olds at six furlongs, and #6 Maven (12-1) in the Group 1 King’s Stand (Third Race), for 3-year-olds and upward at five furlongs. US-based Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride both and all but two of Ward’s overall Ascot invaders. Dettori, also one of the world’s best, will ride the others.
Gosden and Dettori figure to enjoy to a sterling start, Tuesday, in the Group 1, $548k Queen Anne at one mile with 2-5 favorite Palace Pier. He’s a 4-year-old colt with seven wins in eight starts and over $1 million in earnings. The afternoon’s fourth race, the $479,500, Group 1 Saint James’s Palace at one mile, is a wide-open wagering event topped by 4-1 favorite Poetic Flare, winner of four of seven lifetime. In that race, we plan to have a few quid on #4 Highland Avenue, a Godolphin runner trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick. The Dubawi colt never has been worse than second in five starts with three wins.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021 Royal Ascot Schedule
Race 1 (9:30AM ET) // Queen Anne Stakes (G1)
Race 2 (10:05AM ET) // Coventry Stakes (G2)
Race 3 (10:40AM ET) // King’s Stand Stakes (G1)
Race 4 (11:20AM ET) // St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1)
Race 5 (12:00PM ET) // Ascot Stakes
Race 6 (12:35PM ET) // Wolferton Stakes
Race 7 (1:10PM ET) // Copper Horse Stakes
As you can tell, we’re way more interested in Ascot these days, so stop back in this space daily for Ascot racing previews, recaps, and tales of wagering woes. As always, Race On!