Tue, Jun 20, 10:10am by Senior Writer
Australia won’t have an equine representative at this year’s Royal Ascot, with Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne the only Aussie to feature at the world’s most famous racing carnival.
Payne, whose extraordinary win in the 2015 Melbourne Cup on $101 outsider Prince of Penzance is being made into a feature film, will ride in the very first race of the week on Tuesday night aboard a $61 shot.
Payne rides Kaspersky in the Queen Anne Stakes, the race won by Aussie galloper Haradasun in 2008 and then famously by Frankel by a massive margin in 2012.
Kaspersky is an Italian Group 2 winner but is given little to no chance of figuring in the finish given his couple of indifferent lead-up runs to this race.
The $2 favourite in that race is Ribchester, who comes off a tough win in the Lockinge Stakes and comes out of Richard Fahey’s Godolphin yard.
The value is Aidan O’Brien’s runner Deauville, who is around $15. He was a winner in a 2000m Group 3 two starts back before stepping out on a softer track last start back in Ireland and finishing third. Back on top of the ground and back to the mile, he’ll lead up and give them something the chase. He might prove difficult to gun down at nice each-way odds.
The opening day’s other feature in the King’s Stand Stakes, a race which the Aussies dominated in 2000s, with four winners in seven years.
There’s no Aussies here this year, although ex-pat South Australian Jeremy Gask saddles up veteran Medicean Man, who is $51 and contests this race for the sixth time as 11 years of age.
Marsha ($4.33) and Priceless ($4.50) share favouritism and Marsha certainly looks well-placed having won a French Group 1 late last year and then resumed with a narrow win at Newmarket. She beat a few of her rivals here home in that race and drops weight on that run.
The highlight of Day Two is undoubtedly the Prince of Wales’ Stakes which is over approximately 2000m.
Aussie racing fans know $3.75 second favourite Highland Reel well, with the O’Brien trained galloper having run third in the Cox Plate in 2015. Since then, he has won some of the world’s best races, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf and last start, the Coronation Cup at Epsom.
Last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Scottish resumes in the race and is $21.
Given Highland Reel’s amazing record over the past 18 months, you’d be hard pressed to back against him in this. His established form is better than his rivals and he looks attractive odds at the $3.75.
We’ll aim to preview the third and fourth days of the Royal Ascot carnival on Thursday.
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