Headline acts look mighty hard to beat on a stage they dominate
On the eve of Royal Ascot David Carr runs the rule over the top trainers' and jockeys' markets . . .
It was a lucky seventh trainers' title for Aidan O'Brien at Royal Ascot last year and the betting suggests his rivals will be the unlucky ones once again.
He's long odds-on for a Qipco-sponsored award he took for the first time in 2001 and has his usual strong team at a meeting where last year's tally of seven winners matched the post-war record.
Aidan O'Brien (best price 1-4)
Guineas winners Churchill and Winter, exciting sprinter Caravaggio and top-class stayer Order Of St George form the backbone of an exceptionally powerful team from Ballydoyle. And quite aside from those big shots, the likes of Alluringly, Somehow and Highland Reel, plus a host of highly-talented two-year-olds, mean O'Brien is worthy of prohibitive prices.
John Gosden 6-1
The former champion trainer has had 41 Royal Ascot winners, dating back to 1990, and looks to have potentially as strong a team as when he won the leading trainer award here in 2012. Jack Hobbs, Laugh Aloud and Daban are class acts on Wednesday, with Ribblesdale duo Coronet and Hertford Dancer, plus a clutch of promising handicappers, others to look out for.
Sir Michael Stoute 20-1
Stoute has been churning out winners here since 1977 and his total of 75 victories is 20 more than any other current trainer. Those with every chance of adding to the tally include Crystal Ocean in the King Edward VII Stakes and Dartmouth in the Hardwicke - which Stoute has won no fewer than ten times.
Richard Hannon 33-1
Hannon's father was top trainer here twice and, though he'll do well to grab the award himself this year, he has every chance of success at a meeting where he drew a blank last year. Tuesday will be a big day, with De Bruyne Horse and Denaar in the Coventry and Barney Roy bidding for revenge on Churchill in the St James's Palace.
Wesley Ward 40-1
Ward may have brought 'only' ten horses across from the US but recent history suggests they'll be a smart bunch, primed for a bold bid to blow away their European rivals. Last year's Queen Mary winner Lady Aurelia is back for the King's Stand, while Happy Like A Fool, McErin and Arawak are among a typically strong team of juveniles.
Top trainer without Aidan O’Brien
Paddy Power: 10-11 John Gosden; 11-2 Sir Michael Stoute; 7 Richard Hannon, Roger Varian; 8 William Haggas; 10 Wesley Ward; 11 Charlie Appleby; 12 Mark Johnston; 20 bar
ROYAL ASCOT TOP TRAINER AND NO. OF WINNERS
|2014||Sir Michael Stoute||4|
|2010||Richard Hannon snr||3|
TOP CURRENT TRAINERS AT ROYAL ASCOT
Sir Michael Stoute 75 winners, Aidan O’Brien 55, John Gosden 41, Mark Johnston 39, Saeed Bin Suroor 35, Paul Cole 21, Mick Channon 18, Dermot Weld 17, David Elsworth 15, Luca Cumani 11
Moore of the same, at least that's what punters and bookmakers expect on the jockeys' front this week. Ryan Moore has been top rider at Royal Ascot in six of the last seven years, setting a new post-war record of nine winners there in 2015.
Only three other current jockeys have won the award: Frankie Dettori, Jamie Spencer and Jimmy Fortune, who is set to miss the meeting.
Ryan Moore (best price 1-3)
Moore is spoilt for choice and having to pick which Ballydoyle blue-blood to ride is the very definition of a nice problem to have. Even if he gets it wrong once or twice, the likes of Churchill, Winter and Order Of St George should ensure he's very hard to beat, particularly with fancied outside rides such as Thomas Hobson, City Of Joy and the Queen's Mainstream to look forward to.
Frankie Dettori 9-2
Dettori has ridden Wesley Ward's last two Royal Ascot winners and his tie-up with the man behind Lady Aurelia, McErin and the rest gives him every chance of further success. Gold Cup second favourite Big Orange is another notable mount for a man whose tally of 56 victories here is the best among current riders, though he won the last of his five top jockey awards in 2004.
William Buick 12-1
Buick is odds-on to be topping the table after the opening Queen Anne Stakes, in which he rides hot favourite Ribchester. Whether he can stay in contention thereafter will probably depend on Jack Hobbs in the Prince of Wales's Stakes and Blue Point in the Commonwealth Cup.
Jim Crowley 33-1
The champion jockey will have high hopes of adding to his tally of three Royal Ascot winners as he comes into the meeting as Hamdan Al Maktoum's retained rider for the first time. Queen Anne hope Mutakayyef is among those he partners for Sheikh Hamdan, with Santry in the Norfolk a notable outside ride.
Silvestre de Sousa 33-1
No rider goes into the meeting in better form than De Sousa, who has ridden nine winners over the last three days - six of them on Friday alone. Yet the 2015 champion jockey still does not seem to get the quality big-race mounts his results deserve. Gold Cup contender Sweet Selection is among his better hopes at a meeting where he has ridden three winners in the last six years.
Top jockey without Ryan Moore
Paddy Power: 4-5 Frankie Dettori; 2 William Buick; 7 Jim Crowley; 8 Silvestre de Sousa; 9 Andrea Atzeni; 25 bar
ROYAL ASCOT TOP JOCKEY AND NO. OF WINNERS
TOP CURRENT JOCKEYS AT ROYAL ASCOT
Frankie Dettori 56 winners, Ryan Moore 42, Jamie Spencer 22, William Buick 16, Jimmy Fortune 15, Olivier Peslier 15, Steve Drowne 11