Royal Ascot week is the pinnacle of the British racing calendar and the Darley stallions are aiming to have a strong influence on the first day of proceedings.
The curtain raiser is the G1 Queen Anne Stakes and the obvious draw is the world’s best racehorse of 2021, and future Darley stallion, Palace Pier. He has a near impeccable record, winning seven of his eight starts, with his three top-flight races including a defeat of Pinatubo at this meeting last season in the St James’s Palace Stakes. Amongst his opposition will be Prince Eiji, a five-year-old son of Dubawi who reserves his best for this track and fast ground.
The three-year-old equivalent over a mile is the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes, with Godolphin’s Highland Avenue (pictured), another son of Dubawi, holding leading claims. The progressive colt is the first foal of Shamardal’s G1-winning juvenile Lumiere.
He is joined in the field by the 2,000 Guineas hero Poetic Flare, a Jim Bolger homebred by St James’s Palace Stakes winner Dawn Approach, who was also one of the three brilliant record-breaking juvenile Stakes winners at this meeting by New Approach.
The third G1 on the card is the King’s Stand Stakes over the minimum trip, recently won two years in succession by the thrilling Blue Point. Heading to post will be Night Of Thunder’s progressive filly Keep Busy, whose career highlight came at the backend of last season when a close second in the G1 Flying Five at the Curragh. She is joined in the lineup by Harry’s Bar, who will be bidding to extend his sire Exceed And Excel’s superb record at the Royal meeting over five furlongs.
One of the highlights of Ribchester’s racing career was winning the G1 Queen Anne in 2017 in course-record time, and his first-crop son Gisburn will be looking to take the G2 Coventry Stakes on his third career start. Trained by Richard Hannon, the stable used the same Newbury meeting to springboard Canford Cliffs and Strong Suit to Royal success, and he holds leading claims after his facile six-and-a-half length victory.
The progeny of Territories have been in superb form in 2021, with 33 winners from his first two crops, a total far superior to the majority of European stallions. He will be represented in the Coventry by Masseto, an unlucky-in-running second in a G3 at the Curragh on his last start.
The penultimate race of the day is the Listed Wolferton Stakes over ten furlongs, and sons of Iffraaj, Shamardal, Street Cry and Authorized head to post.