Four things we learned from the opening day at Royal Ascot
It was a Royal Ascot opening day like no other with the action taking place behind closed doors but it was nonetheless informative. Here are four things to keep in mind for the remainder of the meeting.
Back Crowley's judgement
Jim Crowley must have felt like a child in a sweet shop before the Buckingham Palace Handicap as he had the enviable choice of four runners representing leading owner Hamdan Al Maktoum.
The jockey was duly rewarded for his decision to partner 14-1 shot Motakhayyel over the 7-2 favourite Darrik, Mutamaasik and Habub when the four-year-old scored by a length and a quarter.
Crowley, who went on to land an opening day treble with victories aboard Battaash and Nazeef, had ridden Motakhayyel at Kempton three weeks earlier and promised to ride him whenever he next ran.
He had another decision to make before the Royal Hunt Cup on Wednesday and has chosen to partner Alrajaa, rather than Montatham who is more prominent in the betting.
Gosden unlikely to slow down
John Gosden marked his 50th Royal Ascot winner when Frankly Darling recorded a scintillating success in the Ribblesdale Stakes, and added another when Nazeef won the Duke of Cambridge Stakes.
It is not surprising to see the trainer on the scoresheet at the royal meeting, but two victories on the opening day could be a sign of things to come with a number of short-priced runners through the week.
He has done particularly well with his fillies so far this season and that bodes well for Mehdaayih, who will contest the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday on her seasonal reappearance.
Big-priced runners make the frame
The results on the opening day suggest there is certainly value to be found this week as a number of big-priced runners made the frame, perhaps owing to the unprecedented build-up to the meeting.
While the usual suspects such as Gosden and Aidan O'Brien still had their say, there were other trainers making their presence felt, including William Muir.
Muir, who as well as winning the King Edward VII Stakes with Pyledriver, was represented at the start of the day by Jack's Point, who finished second in the Buckingham Palace Handicap at 66-1.
Muir's runners were not the only ones to outrun their odds as Agincourt ran a huge race for David O'Meara to finish a 28-1 second in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, missing out by just a head from Nazeef.
All budgets can be successful
Grandeur is ordinarily a trademark of the royal meeting and given it attracts some of the finest equine talent, it is perhaps tempting to focus on how much a horse costs as a pointer to their quality.
This is often the case, but Pyledriver was an exception to the rule when landing the King Edward at 18-1 for Muir.
The odds-on favourite Mogul, who could only manage fourth, cost 3.4 million gns as a yearling in October 2018, while the winner was bought back by his breeders at the sales for just 10,000gns.
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