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The opening day of Royal Ascot, and a card which saw a very healthy Tote Placepot return of £176.10 last year.
For those getting on early this year, there’s the added bonus of Placepot Insurance at hand. Place your bet via Tote.co.uk or the app before midnight on Monday and we’ll give you your stake back, up to £10, if you’re out in leg 1.
All customers who bet directly online at Tote will also benefit from Tote+, which will see any winning dividend boosted by 10%.
Here’s where we’re looking for the opening Placepot of the Royal Meeting.
The Big Trend
It’s paid to be drawn somewhere near the middle in the Wolferton Stakes (Leg 6 - 17:35) in recent years, with stalls 5-8 contributing 56% of the placed horses in the last six years, from just 31% of the runners.
Two that get into our perm this time round are FELIX and JUAN ELCANO.
The former has improved nicely this season, transitioning from a decent handicapper to a bona fide Group-race performer. He was a fast finishing second in the Winter Derby, having been slowly away and continued his progress when third to Lord North in a Meydan Group 1. Another bold is expected.
JUAN ELCANO needs a bit more faith, but he’s certainly threatened to go close in a decent race after finishing fifth in last year’s Guineas. He wasn’t disgraced over 8f at Doncaster on seasonal reappearance, with the winner since third in the Lockinge, while two others around him have since won at Listed level. This step back up in trip looks sure to suit.
While many will have Palace Pier as a sure thing (more on him later), BATTAASH (Leg 3 - 15:40) is the one that takes ‘banker’ status for our Placepot perm.
Charlie Hills’ star won the King’s Stand on seasonal debut last year, and it’s probably fair to say that this year’s renewal doesn’t look much better in terms of quality.
After taking the Royal Ascot Group 1 last year, the speedster won his only other two engagements, though neither saw him at his dazzling best. There are admittedly question marks about his preparation for this year’s race, but even at 80% he should have more than enough to be in the mix again, especially with the quick ground in his favour.
Outsider to Consider
Those taking advantage of Tote’s early bird Placepot Insurance could do worse than taking a couple of big-priced shots against Palace Pier in the Queen Anne (Leg 1 - 14:30). Get one of them through, and you’re sitting on a valuable ticket, fail to make it through and it’s cash back (up to £10).
SIR BUSKER was a decent improver last season, winning the Silver Hunt Cup before finishing second in a York Group 2 and fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day over course and distance. He’s shown similar ability this year, with a third over track and trip again before finding the ground softer than ideal when fourth in France.
LORD GLITTERS simply loves the straight course at Ascot, with two wins and two seconds from seven outings, including taking this race back in 2019. The grey has shown he’s still got plenty of talent when performing well in Dubai this spring, including bagging another Group 1, and he has to be in with a shot of bagging a place.
There’s no denying Poetic Flare has been the star 3yo this season, but Jim Bolger’s charge arrives in the St James’s Palace Stakes (Leg 4 - 16:20) off the back of three hard Group 1 efforts. This race has often seen something come from outside of the Classic events to spoil the party.
John Gosden has been responsible for a couple of those in recent years, and he could have another latecomer to side with in the form of MOSTAHDAF. Three from three so far in his career, he arrives here after winning the Heron Stakes at Sandown, as Without Parole did for this yard, and looks a most progressive candidate.
One of those that did run in a Classic this season, though poorly, is THUNDER MOON. Joseph O’Brien’s colt ran no sort of race in the 2000 Guineas, but will surely put up a better performance here. He had plenty of the top horses in his age group behind him at some point last season, including when an impressive winner of the Phoenix Stakes. There’s hope that this return to a more conventional track will see him to better effect.
Our Placepot Perm
Leg 1: Sir Busker, Lord Glitters
Leg 2: Ebro River, Kaufymaker
Leg 3: Battaash
Leg 4: Thunder Moon, Mostahdaf
Leg 5: Postileo, Elysian Flame
Leg 6: Juan Elcano, Stormy Antarctic
2 x 2 x 1 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 32 lines