Simenon one to note in Ascot Stakes
By Ruby Walsh
I WILL be at Royal Ascot today and can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to it.
I always go to the meeting for a day or two and absolutely adore everything about the place. I love the pomp, the pageantry, the glamour and just meeting people.
To go racing socially is a delight, free from the pressure I normally associate with the game.
I travel with my wife, Gillian, and some friends and will start with a glass, or two, of champagne, followed by lunch.
And then it will be a case of settling back and enjoying the best flat racing in the world.
I love Ascot on the Tuesday, because it kicks away with four Group 1’s in a row. And the very first contest, the Queen Anne Stakes, features a genuine superstar in Henry Cecil’s Frankel. He won the St James’ Palace on this day last year, after getting what can be best described as an erratic ride from Tom Queally.
But Tom learned from that, there have been no issues since and the pair have become a cracking combination.
The clever punter will attempt to work out the horse most likely to finish second to Frankel.
But I couldn’t care less about such a consideration and just want him to bolt in and not come off the bridle. He is one of the greatest flat horses of all time and I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t win and win well.
I fancy the Australian challenger, Ortensia, in the five furlongs King’s Stand Stakes. I wouldn’t pretend to be any great expert on the Australian form book. But what I do know is that he is regarded as a cracking horse and, in my opinion, Australians and Americans are far better at training sprinters than we are in Britain and Ireland.
I’m reliably informed the Richard Hannon yard is confident that unbeaten in two races, Sir Prancealot, will land the Coventry, so I want to be with him.
Aidan O’Brien’s Power is going to go off favourite for the St James’ Palace and I thought he got a brilliant drive from his son, Joseph, to win the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh.
But outside of Camelot I’ve a feeling that the Irish and British three year-olds are ordinary, so it is the French horse, Lucayan, for me here.
When the four Group 1’s are over we then have the Ascot Stakes Handicap to look forward to and Willie Mullins’ Simenon.
I rode him to win in a canter over hurdles at Cork last time and, if he stays two and a half miles, will do the business for Ryan Moore. He certainly goes there fit and well.
If I had one wish for Royal Ascot it would be that the top weight in handicaps reverted back to 10-0.
That would give me the chance to fulfil a major ambition of mine and ride a winner at the meeting.
Racing today finishes with the Windsor Castle, but by then I will definitely be more interested in a final glass of bubbly.
* Ruby Walsh is sponsored by Racing UK TV (Sky 432), which is offering a free month’s trial to all Irish residents (offer closes 9pm on June 22). Customers (Sky only) must call 0818 776 779 (ROI) and 0844 472 5777 (NI) and quote Ireland Free Trial, or visit racinguk.com/irelandfreetrialHome