By Andrew Atkinson
Bookies are running scared as the 2019 Royal Ascot Classic meeting looms – with Ballydoyle ace trainer Aidan O’Brien holding a pack of aces – during the five day meeting.
O’Brien, odds on 4-7 favourite to be the leading trainer at Royal Ascot that commences on June 18, aces include Hermosa, Gold Cup favourite Stradivarius, Commonwealth Cup favourite Ten Sovereigns, and Arizona, backed into 5-1 in the Coventry Stakes.
O’Brien, who saddles 10 favourites of the twenty two races this year, had nine winners at Royal Ascot in 2015, and saddled seven winners in 2016.
Hermosa, as short as 5-4 from 11-8 – is deemed the Ballydoyle ‘banker’ – along with strongly fancied Ten Sovereigns 7-4 in the Commonwealth Cup.
O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore, who linked up in 2016, have had 14 winners at Royal Ascot to date.
O’Brien could strike with Le Brivido on the opening race of the meeting, in the Queen Anne Stakes, the five year old having been cut from 8-1 to 4-1.
The O’Brien-Moore duo have Le Brivido, Arizona and Magna Grecia entered on day one. And the bookies are quavering.
O’Brien saddles duo Ten Sovereigns in the Commonwealth Cup and Hermosa in the Coronation Stakes on Friday June 21.
Gold Cup favourite Stradivarius (June 20) alone has the bookies deeply worried, and if Hermosa and Ten Sovereigns oblige, their satchels will be emptied.
O’Brien’s leading Royal Ascot fancies include: Le Brivido in the Queen Anne Stakes (4-1); Arizona in the Coventry Stakes (5-1); Magna Grecia in the St James’s Palace Stakes (6-1); Constantinople and Western Australia in The Queen’s Vase (5-1); Magical in The Prince of Wales’s Stakes (3-1); I Can Fly in The Duke of Cambridge Stakes (6-1); Monarch Of Egypt in The Norfolk Stakes (6-1); Pink Dogwood in The Ribblesdale Stakes (5-1); Etoile in The Albany Stakes (6-1); Japan and Sir Dragonet in The King Edward Stakes (5-1); Ten Sovereigns in The Commonwealth Cup (7-4); Hermosa in The Coronation Stakes (5-4); Lope Y Fernandez in The Chesham Stakes (5-2) and Southern France in The Hardwicke Stakes (6-1).
Doubt surrounds Newmarket 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia, who has pulled a hamstring, and could miss The St James’s Palace Stakes, that includes Phoenix Of Spain and Too Darn Hot: “I don’t think he’s going to make Ascot after pulling a hamstring in the Guineas,” rued O’Brien.
“Just Wonderful may go with Hermosa to the Coronation Cup. And Fleeting might go for the Ribblesdale Stakes, but will have to be supplemented,” said O’Brien.