The 2019 Royal Meeting gets underway with one of the highest quality days racing in the calendar, headlined by three Group One races that once more have attracted the very best equine talent from around the world.
The Queen Anne Stakes is the first of those Group Ones over a mile on the straight course and Accidental Agent will be bidding to become the first back-to-back winner since Dean Swift in 1906/07. That alone tells you how difficult a challenge he faces but last year's winner warmed up for the race with an encouraging third in the Lockinge at Newbury and that looks the key bit of form with winner Mustashry and runner up Laurens both lining up while market leader Le Brivido was back in fifth that day.
The wildcard in the race is Barney Roy, winner of the St James’s Palace Stakes two years ago, he has returned to racing after a failed career at stud and if he retains all of his ability he could be the one to beat.
The Group Two Coventry Stakes for Two-Year-Olds is next with Aidan O’Brien’s Arizona heading the market after a wide margin success at the Curragh. Threat has been well back in the run up after his Newmarket debut but there are any number with huge potential including Guildsman for Qatar Racing who won well at Goodwood on debut. Light Angel represents last years winning combination Frankie Dettori and John Gosden while Mark Johnston’s Monoski could be hard to peg back if allowed an easy lead.
The Group One King’s Stand Stakes over the minimum distance includes some of the fastest horses on the planet, headlined by the speed machine Battaash. At his very best he is nearly impossible to beat but last year in this race he was too keen and eventually outstayed by Blue Point whose jockey James Doyle will be hoping the race pans out in a similar way. International interest comes from far and wide with leading American turf sprinter Imprimis bringing excellent form into the race and he has the assistance of Frankie Dettori. Houtzen represents Australia while Enzo’s Lad will carry the hopes of New Zealand.
The St James’s Palace Stakes for three-year-olds over a mile on the round course sees the rematch of Phoenix Of Spain and Too Darn Hot who met in the Irish Guineas where the former came out on top. Skardu was also behind that day after finishing third in the British Guineas while French Guineas form is on show with Shaman, a good second to Persian King at Longchamp.
The Ascot Stakes sees several jumps trainers trying to join the party in this handicap over two and a half miles with fancied runners for Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson and Alan King while Gordon Elliott runs the classy chaser Mengli Khan who could be very well handicapped on his old Flat form.
A classy renewal of the Listed Wolferton Stakes completes proceedings where Magic Wand, a winner at Royal Ascot last year, and 2018 Irish Derby winner Latrobe have the pick of the form.