Feature events of the 2018 Royal Ascot meet
Royal Ascot has upped its game for 2018. Not only is the prestigious meet offering 18 Group races – eight of which are Group 1 contests – and $9.6 million in prize money, but also opportunities in the Queen Anne, Prince of Wales’s, Norfolk and Diamond Jubilee for international runners to earn an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs in November.
Some of each day’s features, with notable likely runners that may be worth a bet, are below:
DAY 1 – TUESDAY, JUNE 19
Royal Ascot kicks off in style with three Group 1 contests highlighting Day 1. The Queen Anne Stakes features YOSHIDA, who readied for the one-mile event with a nice win in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs. The King’s Stand Stakes brings back last year’s romping winner, LADY AURELIA, for a title defense in the five-furlong affair. WITHOUT PAROLE will seek to move his record to a perfect four-for-four for trainer John Gosden in the one-mile St James’s Palace Stakes.
DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Eng-G1) is featured on Day 2 and CRACKSMAN is the main draw in the 1 1/4-mile contest off Group 1 wins this year in the Coronation Cup and Prix Ganay. Trainer Wesley Ward is seeking his fourth victory in the five-furlong Queen Mary Stakes (Eng-G2) with Keeneland maiden romper CHELEA CLOISTERS.
ALJAZZI just missed in last year’s Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Eng-G2) and will attempt to go one better this time around in the eight-furlong affair.
DAY 3 – THURSDAY, JUNE 21
The Ascot Gold Cup (Eng-G1) is the showcase event on Day 3, which is also known as Ladies’ Day. ORDER OF ST GEORGE returns for a third go in the 2 1/2-mile contest after capturing the 2016 running but missing by a head in last year’s stand.
The five-furlong Norfolk Stakes (Eng-G2) is yet another race trainer Wesley Ward aims for during the Royal meeting and he sends out Keeneland maiden scorer SHANG SHANG SHANG. The 1 1/2-mile Ribblesdale Stakes (Eng-G2) has attracted Epsom Oaks (Eng-G1) runner-up WILD ILLUSION as well as undefeated LAH TI DAR, a favorite for the Oaks before being ruled out.
DAY 4 – FRIDAY, JUNE 22
One Thousand Guineas winners from Ireland (ALPHA CENTAURI), France (TEPPAL) and England (BILLESDON BROOK) are expected to face off in the Coronation Stakes (Eng-G1) going a mile on Day 4. SIOUX NATION earned his shot in the Commonwealth Cup (Eng-G1) with an Irish Group 3 score last month, but a slew of U.S.-based runners including the Wesley Ward-trained HEMP HEMP HURRAY will attempt to derail the Aidan O’Brien pupil in the six-furlong sprint.
DAY 5 – SATURDAY, JUNE 23
Only two Group contests take place on Day 5, and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Eng-G1) will see BOUND FOR NOWHERE make his second attempt at Royal Ascot. Last year the Wesley Ward trainee finished fourth in the Commonwealth Cup. Also expected to show in the six-furlong sprint are THE TIN MAN and TASLEET, who ran one-two, respectively, in last year’s edition of the Diamond Jubilee.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute could exit the 2018 Royal meeting with a record 11th win in the 12-furlong Hardwicke Stakes (Eng-G2) thanks to CRYSTAL OCEAN.
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