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2.30 - Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1, 1m)
One of the stars of the entire week will be expected to strut his stuff in the opening exchange as PALACE PIER looks to further stamp his credentials as the best miler in Europe. John & Thady Gosden's Kingman colt is going to be odds-on but is very hard to oppose and he should get favourite-backers off to a winning start.
He won the St James's Palace here last summer, beating off Pinatubo and Wichita in a stellar renewal, and also bagged the Jacque Le Marois at Deauville in August. He lost a shoe in the mud when turned over (third) in the QEII on Champions Days here in October but has already gone 2-2 this season, including the Lockinge at Newbury last time.
The fourth Group 1 win of his career beckons and Frankie Dettori should be in flying form in the Ascot opener.
Lope Y Fernandez was expected to give Palace Pier a race in the Lockinge but disappointed at Newbury, he could well bounce back to get closer and is one of two Ballydoyle representatives, alongside Breeders' Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia. Ryan Moore prefers the latter and he has not had many goes at this distance. He can be a player for Aidan O'Brien.
The likes of 2018 winner Accidental Agent and Lord Glitters will do well to stare down these younger rivals, while Regal Reality is one of the older brigade that might go well for Sir Michael Stoute. Five-year-old Top Rank backed up his Listed win at Doncaster by finishing third in the Lockinge last time and with no fears on this faster ground, perhaps he's one for those seeking an each-way alternative to the market leader.
3.05 - Coventry Stakes (Group 2, 6f)
Considering he's got plenty in his team this week with big shouts, it's noted that American trainer Wesley Ward has labelled KAUFYMAKER as possibly his best chance of a Royal Ascot scorer this year.
John Velazquez partners the filly and she retains the blinkers worn in her winning debut at Keeneland in April. She was well-backed to win that dirt maiden and obliged in fine style, although it was over just 4½-furlongs.
Ward has been talking up her homework on turf and insists she's relaxed enough to negate any concerns about going up to six-furlongs now. She gets 3lb from the colts here and, if she's as good Ward believes, may take some halting.
There are 16 of those colts looking to take her down, so it won't be plain sailing.
Team Gosden fires two. Tolstoy made a winning beginning at Yarmouth over this trip and has Frankie Dettori on board here, while Dhabab obliged on debut at Leicester a fortnight ago and £200,000 son of No Nay Never should have more to come now under Rab Havlin.
It's a double-handed challenge too from Richard Hannon, Secret Strength (Tom Marquand) appearing the second-string as Ribchester colt Gisburn (Pat Dobbs) very much demolished his rivals at Newbury on second start last month.
He had earlier finished behind Berkshire Shadow at the same track, Andrew Balding's Dark Angel colt impressing there having missed the break over five-furlongs.
Sandown's National Stakes winner Ebro River goes up to 6f for Hugo Palmer and James Doyle and could have plenty more improvement to come while last year's winning trainer/jockey combo Clive Cox and Adam Kirby fire Bath winner Caturra into battle now.
Add Irish raiders The Acropolis - bidding to give Aidan O'Brien a tenth Coventry win - and Donnacha O'Brien's Masseto into the mix and this looks a deep renewal of the opening 2YO contest. The market will be informative but perhaps the American filly can justify the hype.
3.40 - King's Stand Stakes (Group 1, 5f)
Battaash won this race in fine style last summer, ending his perceived 'Ascot hoodoo' when he did.
Charlie Hills' speedster won all three starts in 2020 and has a perfect 4-4 record on seasonal reappearance. He's clear on ratings and Jim Crowley's mount is very obviously the one they all must worry about.
His trainer has though made no secret of the fact his preparation hasn't gone as smoothly as he'd have liked. The blistering Battaash may well prove too good, but at the prices maybe it's worth seeking out something at a price as an alternative.
The filly Winter Power was impressive at York (5f, good) last month in a Listed win - form advertised over the weekend by the runner-up - as she made all the running to dominate her rivals.
Tim Easterby's three-year-old warrants this first go in Group 1 company but she's unlikely to get her own way with Battaash around and an eagerness to track the bullet might compromise her chances.
Que Amoro finished closest to Battaash in the Nunthorpe at York last summer. Michael Dods' mare is capable fresh but her very best form has been reserved for the Knavesmire.
Last year's July Cup winner Oxted has run well in both starts this season without winning and now races over this minimum distance for the first time in his career. He clearly has the talent to get involved for Roger Teal and Cieren Fallon.
Wesley Ward saddles Maven, the American Pharoah colt was behind some of these in the Molecomb at Glorious Goodwood in 2019 when last on these shores. That race was won by Liberty Beach and the Cable Bay filly won the Temple Stakes at Haydock (5f, heavy) last month on her comeback run.
She was third in this event 12 months ago and should give another solid account.
The bare form of KING'S LYNN's recent Listed win at Haydock leaves him with plenty work to be doing, but he picked off Moss Gill (third in the Nunthorpe last season) in the dying embers and perhaps Andrew Balding's Royal runner will have more to come this summer at four.
He samples Group 1 fare for the first time now and perhaps he can take away a slice of the prize money at decent odds.
4.20 - St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1, 1m)
Poetic Flare is the form pick here. He was a gutsy winner of Newmarket's 2000 Guineas at the start of May and then ran well in the French and Irish versions of same, going down a short-head behind stablemate MacSwiney at the Curragh on testing ground. Being back on this faster surface is fine and he's a resolute performer but a fourth Group 1 race in a short time-span is some source of concern.
Chindit was fifth in Newmarket Guineas behind him and could make inroads to that deficit away from a track that seemingly does not play to his strengths. He's just one of a strong cast that will likely go well. Godolphin inmates Highland Avenue and La Barrosa (sixth in Irish Guineas, not suited by ground) are contenders, while Wembley has two flops in English/Irish Guineas to banish now.
Mostahdaf is 3-3 so far and represents a stable bidding to win this race for the fourth time since 2014. He had Highland Avenue and Bullace behind at Sandown last time on soft ground when making a winning turf bow in the Listed Heron Stakes and is surely capable of better again.
Maximal drops to the mile and is another with improvement still in front of him but Sir Michael Stoute's Galileo colt will need it now.
Ryan Moore sides with last year's impressive Chesham winner BATTLEGROUND and he's got scope to be a key player back on this track.
He won the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood after that and then ran a good second at the Breeders' Cup in November. He came in for strong market support ahead of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last month, going off 9/2 favourite in the end, but didn't seem to relish the undulations of the Rowley Mile. He's tongue-tied now for the first time and this imposing War Front colt is likely to go close back here.
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5.00 - Ascot Stakes (Handicap, 2m4f)
Cape Gentleman won the Irish Cesarewitch (2m, soft) on just his second start after arriving from France last year and has proved useful of hurdles since. Emmet Mullins has made a name for himself with his exploits in recent months at the likes of Cheltenham and Aintree and the young trainer now bids to secure a Royal Ascot winner. It would be folly to dismiss his charge in haste despite joint-top weight.
Preference here though is for another Irish raider, M C MULDOON for Willie Mullins with Ryan Moore riding. The leading jumps trainer has won this race three times in the last nine years and this Mastercraftsman gelding could be another scorer for the Closutton supremo.
He's run well in four hurdles starts for this trainer after missing more than two years having left Peter Chapple-Hyam. That Moore sides with M C Muldoon over the other Mullins runner, Rayapour, is noteworthy. The latter could well be in mix too under Adam Kirby.
Trumpet Man was running on strongly at the finish in last month's Chester Cup having not necessarily got the best of runs. Mark Johnston's gelded son of Golden Horn could be one that thrives on this trip and is a player as such.
Elysian Flame was another to take out of Chester last month, making some late headway in the Plate to finish fifth after being badly compromised at the start. There's less reliance on luck in this event and he's still quite lightly-raced so is one to keep in mind for each-way support.
5.35 - Wolferton Stakes (Listed, 1m2f)
Joseph O'Brien and Tom Marquand team up with Patrick Sarsfield here. The Australia gelding was a narrow second at the Curragh over this trip at the start of the month on seasonal bow and should be ripe for this challenge now. He's set to feature prominently in the market.
He'll be joined there by recent Windsor winner Solid Stone for Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore. That win came over a mile but he stays this far and has shaped well in both previous runs at this venue.
Blue Cup justified strong market support at Epsom over this trip 11 days ago, surging clear from runner-up Victory Chime. The hood he wore is retained and David Menuisier's charge is worth a go in this grade on current form.
FOREST OF DEAN hasn't raced on turf since the autumn of 2019 but he was progressive at that point and his all-weather exploits this year - having missed all of 2020 - told us he retains plenty ability.
He won the Winter Derby at Lingfield in February (with Felix close behind) and then finished third on All-Weather Finals Day in April (just behind Palavecino). He needs to find a career-best to win this but he's got Frankie Dettori assisting and it's certainly not beyond the realms of possibility back on grass that he'll be right in the mix.
6.10 - Copper Horse Stakes (Handicap, 1m6f)
Saldier was an easy winner at Listowel nine days ago, his first run on the Flat in four years. He represents Willie Mullins and Ryan Moore now but that wasn't much of a race in all truth and he's got a 4lb penalty to carry for his troubles so he's opposable at the odds.
On To Victory won Doncaster's November Handicap and maintained a good record over hurdles afterwards. He was behind Hukum in a Goodwood Listed contest (1m4f, soft) back on the level last month and is a contender for Alan King.
Cardano seemingly didn't get home in the Chester Cup and could bounce back. He's closely matched with Themaxwecan on Musselburgh form previous to that. Global Storm is still lightly-raced and has run well here before, while fellow Godolphin inmate Brilliant Light is another to consider.
THRONE HALL made a winning return at Doncaster (1m2f, good) in March and has twice made the placings since at Thirsk and York over a mile and a half. Kevin Ryan's Kingman gelding has run only six times and is still very much open to further improvement. This increased trip promises to suit and he can carry each-way hopes into a testing opening day finale at Royal Ascot.