Hanson's Spot Plays for Day 1 of Royal Ascot 2020
Like the rest of the sport worldwide, Royal Ascot this week will have what hopefully will be a once-in-a-lifetime look.
Out this year is the royalty, pageantry, and crowds. In this year are six additional races, all handicaps, to fill out a handful of seven-race cards that begin Tuesday and goes through Saturday.
As flat racing in Britain only re-started June 1, handicapping Royal Ascot this year is especially difficult as many participants will have not raced since last season. Guessing who'll be ready to fire their best shot has certainly added an unwanted element to what is already a challenging exercise under normal circumstances.
Nonetheless, we'll give it our best shot over the next several days. The opening day festivities include five Group stakes, although it's hard to look past heavy favorites in two of them. #2 Mogul in Race 4, the King Edward VII (G2), and #1 Battaash in Race 5, the King's Stand (G1).
Having lost one of our potential plays Monday morning when #3 Born With Pride was withdrawn from the Ribblesdale (G2) due to ground concerns, we're down to a pair of horses to watch on Tuesday's lid lifter.
Race 2 -- Queen Anne (G1) -- 8:50 a.m. ET
If you feel, as I do, that morning-line favorite #3 Circus Maximus is vulnerable, than this race is potentially fascinating.
While there are some established, capable veterans in the group, if Circus Maximus is to be overturned it will probably be by one of several other 4-year-olds who are relatively unexposed.
One such candidate is #8 MOHAATHER (10-1), a Group 3 winner at two who kicked off his abbreviated sophomore campaign with a score in the Greenham (G3), a 2000 Guineas (G1) trial at Newbury, last April. Although the winning margin was less than a length, the powerful kick he displayed to seize the lead was visually appealing.
Unfortunately, Mohaather missed the Guineas and the following six months of the season. He reappeared in the Queen Elizabeth II (G1) and undoubtedly did well to lose by five lengths on heavy ground without the benefit of a prep.
Although he hasn't yet proven he can stay a mile, Mohaather appears to have the scope to do so. Incidentally, he's a close relative of #1 Accidental Agent, who won this race in 2018.
Another horse to watch here is #6 Fox Chairman (7-1), who's suffered from less-than-ideal trips in his two losses including the Hampton Court (G3) over 1 1/4 miles at last year's Royal meeting.
Race 6 -- Duke of Cambridge (G2) -- 11:10 a.m. ET
She seemingly didn't fire her best in the season-ending Sun Chariot (G1) in October, but #6 LAVENDER'S BLUE (7-1) perhaps not far off some of the leading contenders here at what should be a decent price.
Stretching #10 Queen Power, a top candidate here, to a neck over 1 1/4 miles at Newbury last spring, she can be forgiven that loss over a longer distance and her flop in the Epsom Oaks (G1). Her return victory in the one-mile Atalanta (G3) at Sandown was rather eye-catching, and she was far from embarrassed when fourth in the Sun Chariot behind several high-class fillies after being stuck in traffic much of the way.
For 1970s pop music lovers, it's worth noting Lavender's Blue is owned by Benny Andersson, a member of the famed Swedish quartet ABBA.