The first day of Royal Ascot was dominated by John Gosden and Frankie Dettori with the pair responsible for 3 of the 6 winners. Without Parole maintained his unbeaten record and made a seamless transition from Listed to Group 1 company in the St James's Palace Stakes when beating Gustav Klimt by half a length. The drying ground was very much in the son of Frankel's favour and Dettori had him ideally positioned throughout. While his advantage was being eaten into close home, he was always holding the fast finishing runner-up. The ground appears to be the key to him but, all being well, he will head to Goodwood for the Sussex Stakes and take on the older milers who, with respect, are not a vintage crop, if the Queen Anne Stakes is anything to go by. Featured in the Top 40 Prospects of Ahead On The Flat, it was a tremendous result.
The Coventry Stakes has been won by some high-class colts over the years but I think the 2018 renewal will turn out to be one of the best in recent times. It was viewed as a head to head between Calyx, who had created a mighty impression on Newmarket's July Cup ten days ago, and Aidan O'Brien's Sergei Prokofiev, who had won two out of three beforehand. The race went the way of the John Gosden runner and, in doing so, became Kingman's first Royal Ascot winner in his first season as a stallion. Only a length separated him and Martyn Meade's Advertise with the width of the track between them. Dettori was forced to commit Calyx some way from home because none of his rivals drawn high were good enough to carry him into the contest for long enough. The O'Brien runner, who was berthed one the far side, was a further neck back in third. The Group 1 Prix Morny is the winner's next target and, not surprisingly, he is already a single figure price for the 2000 Guineas next spring. I wouldn't mind asking John Gosden if there is much difference between Calyx and Legends of War, who also looked a superstar in the making when winning at Yarmouth last month.
Charlie Appleby had enjoyed a tremendous first half of the season and Blue Point provided him with a Royal Ascot winner to go with his Epsom Derby success. The strong early pace set by Battaash played into the hands of William Buick's mount and he stayed on strongly to win going away by a length and a half. Only tackling five furlongs for the second time, it was the four year old's first win at the highest level and his third success at the track. One can't help thinking Jim Crowley went too hard on the runner-up, while dual Royal Ascot winner Lady Aurelia looked a shadow of her former self fading inside the final furlong. Mabs Cross ran a cracker in third and, not for the first time, left the impression she may benefit from a return to six furlongs. Not entered in the July Cup, it will be interesting to see if Michael Dods can persuade owner David Armstrong to supplement her.
It was a good day for the Royal Ascot Update with Calyx advised at 3/1 and Without Parole advised at 11/4, plus Advertise (advised at 16/1) finished second in the Coventry Stakes. I am heading south tomorrow because I am working at the Royal meeting on Thusday. I will therefore update the Diary over the weekend. Best of luck for the remaining four days.
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