Royal Ascot: Day one tips from Hugh Taylor

Hugh Taylor has a pair of Tuesday selections for the first day of Royal Ascot 2024 – live on Sky Sports Racing – including a play in the opening Queen Anne Stakes.

There are a few horses that I have liked from some way out for day one of the Royal meeting, but in the two staying handicaps, in particular, the ones I was most interested in have shown their form on testing ground and with that in mind I’m reluctantly leaving those races alone from a betting perspective.

With the ground set to ride on the quick side, the six furlongs Class 2 novice event at York’s May meeting might hold the key to the Coventry Stakes (3.05), and with plenty of pace amongst the high numbers, Andesite is preferred to Yah Mo Be There.

Both colts created a strong impression at York, pulling a long clear of the remainder in a fair time figure for two-year-old debutants at that time of year. Andesite was ridden a bit more prominently into what was a mild headwind, showed signs of greenness, and his stable’s two-year-olds often find plenty of improvement for their first outing.

He should get a good tow into the race from a couple of high-drawn horses that made all last time, and this half-brother to the stable’s Queen Mary Stakes winner Dramatised will be a big player if, like so many from his stable, he goes the right way from his debut.

Yah Mo Be There, who like Andesite has been strong in the market in recent days, is very much respected for the same connections who won this race with Rajasinghe in 2017. Of the remainder, Cowardofthecounty was my other long-range fancy for this race having recorded a very good time figure for an April two-year-old on testing ground when beating hot Norfolk Stakes favourite Whistleinthejacket. He deserves to be favourite based on that form, but there is obviously the question of whether he can be quite so effective on quicker ground.

I’ve thought Maljoom might win a Group 1 race on the straight track at Ascot ever since he recorded a monster time figure on his second start at Kempton in 2022, and whilst this notoriously fragile performer clearly has plenty to prove after a subsequent career that has been blighted by lengthy absences, he looks to have the ideal scenario to showcase his undoubted ability in the Queen Anne Stakes (2.30).

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He followed up that fast-time Kempton victory by winning the German 2000 Guineas, doing well to run down a smart rival who slipped the field early in the straight.

He then produced a career-best effort when an unlucky fourth in the St James’s Palace Stakes, shaping like he would have won readily granted a clear run.

He has only been seen twice subsequently, each time returning from long absences. At Newmarket last September he was very weak in the late market and ran accordingly, racing keenly, not seeming especially at home on the track and fading.

He was stronger in the market close to the off on his seasonal debut at Ascot, but that support looked questionable given none of the five runners had a history of making the running, and unsurprisingly Maljoom proved far too fresh, unable to gain cover and ending up leading by default at a steady pace, often a significant advantage but not so in the case of a free-going horse whose best form has come when held up off a strong pace.

It’s obviously hard to assess how much ability he retains, but if he’s ever going to win a Group 1 race he looks to have his ideal circumstances here, a strong pace looking on the cards with Audience, Big Rock and recent all-the-way Epsom winner Royal Scotsman in the line-up.

Horses that have recorded a big all-weather speed figure often do well on the straight track here, as mentioned on numerous occasions in this column, and whilst Maljoom’s profile means I wouldn’t be interested in him at short-ish odds in a lesser race, he looks worth chancing at double-figure odds here with conditions in his favour.

Source : Sky Sports