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2019 Royal Ascot tips - Five of the best ante-post punts

Calyx (centre) powering to victory in the 2018 Coventry Stakes.

We take a look through the ante-post betting markets for this year’s Royal Ascot and highlight five horses to back before the meeting starts on Tuesday 18th June.

Nothing symbolises the beginning of British summertime better than Royal Ascot. This world famous Festival has been captivating audiences for centuries. The finest flat racers from around the world will gather at the Berkshire venue in June and, over five spectacular days, a stack of Group One prizes will be handed out.

Royal Ascot 2019 may still be a month away, but there are plenty of ante-post markets for punters to sink their teeth into. Our expert has taken a look through the Royal Ascot markets available to him and identified five of his best ante-post bets.

2019 Royal Ascot Ante-Post Tips

All eyes were on Monarch Of Egypt, the first foal by US legend American Pharaoh, as he made his debut over five furlongs at Naas. While it was no surprise to see Aidan O’Brien’s expensive recruit get off the mark, his breeding doesn’t automatically point towards success over sprinting distances. Given that, it’s worth looking for alternatives and the biggest threat to the well-bred favourite could, indeed, be THREAT.

Richard Hannon threw this son of Footstepsinthesand straight into a Class Three maiden during the Guineas meeting and Threat seemed to have his work cut out, carrying odds of 10/1 into battle against a well-backed Godolphin hot-pot. Tom Marquand’s mount got off to a flying start, but seemed to be a sitting duck as the favourite took aim coming out of the dip.

Despite having his stride checked at a crucial stage, Threat never looked like being passed. Hannon’s colt comfortably held Electrical Storm at arm’s length, even pulling clear of the favourite in the closing stages to clock an impressive time. Threat will now test his stamina over six furlongs at Newbury’s Lockinge meeting and, if he passed that test with flying colours, it will be all systems go for the Coventry.

After Enable’s connections announced the Arc and Breeder’s Cup heroine would head straight to Royal Ascot, racing fans have been anticipating a mouth-watering rematch with Arc runner-up, SEA OF CLASS in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Yet, and I hope I’m wrong in this assumption, I get the feeling it will be the Hardwicke Stakes or nothing for Enable at Royal Ascot.

Not since her losing reappearance as a three-year-old has Enable attempted a trip as short as this. What’s more, John Gosden and owner, Prince Khalid will be keen to mind Europe’s top filly as she makes her return to action and the Hardwicke Stakes, over her favourite trip, will undoubtedly be the easier option.

If it wasn’t for Enable, Sea Of Class would be heading to Ascot as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe champion. James Doyle dropped the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks winner out the back at Longchamp, a risky tactic on such a tight track and Sea Of Class’ late charge came up a neck short. Those waiting tactics will be much more effective around Ascot and, even if Enable does show up in this Group One, I’d fancy Sea Of Class to get the victory in this year’s Prince Of Wales.

Stradivarius enjoyed an unbeaten campaign during 2018, earning John Gosden the Wetherby’s £1m Bonus after winning at Ascot, Goodwood and twice at York. While Stradivarius’ achievements last term were admirable, the staying division was particularly weak and I think last year’s Gold Cup winner will be vulnerable when he returns to Royal Ascot.

The obvious stayer to take Stradivarius on with is CROSS COUNTER, who brought the Melbourne Cup back to Britain with a wonderful display at Flemington in November. Charlie Appleby’s charge has improved 20 pounds over the last ten months, stealing the headlines at Glorious Goodwood when breaking the track record during a blistering renewal of the Gordon Stakes. Cross Counter built on his Melbourne Cup triumph with a simple success in the Dubai Gold Cup earlier in the year and he could have too much pace for even Stradivarius to cope with.

Cross Counter powers to victory in the Melbourne Cup.

Last year’s Commonwealth Cup was one of the most underwhelming races at the entire meeting. All of the fancied horses failed to fire on the big stage, allowing Eqtidaar – who has done nothing to boost the form since – to claim a surprise victory. That being said, even the shocking nature of last year’s renewal could not put me off CALYX, who should claim his second-straight victory at this most famous of meetings.

After a stunning victory in the Coventry Stakes, where Dettori was forced to make his own pace down the unfavourable portion of the track, many were tipping Calyx to develop into a 2000 Guineas contender during the rest of 2018. Sadly, injury struck soon after Ascot and John Gosden’s Classic ambitions took a back seat.

Calyx made his triumphant return to action in the Pavilion Stakes at Newmarket, destroying a field of capable sprinters over six furlongs on the Rowley Mile. The plan may eventually be to step Calyx up to a mile, but is there any point? Calyx has so much power and natural ability, all the big sprint races could be there for the taking during 2019. I’m not prepared to side against him.

Invincible Army announced himself as the leading contender for the Diamond Jubilee this week, running away with the Clipper at York. Blue Point and Sands Of Mali are obvious challengers to James Tate’s colt, but Saturday’s main event looks wide open to me and the value could lie with US raider, BOUND FOR NOWHERE.

This lightly-raced five-year-old has been an integral part of Wesley Ward’s Ascot team for the past two seasons. Bound For Nowhere ran a mighty race to place fourth behind Caravaggio, Harry Angel and Blue Point in the 2017 Commonwealth Cup, bettering that result in last year’s Diamond Jubilee, where he hung on well to finish third - despite running a solo effort for much of the race and hanging badly left when Joel Rosario tried to find some company in the closing stages.

After ending last season running over a mile, Ward dropped Bound For Nowhere back to sprinting distances in the Shakertown Stakes on his reappearance, where the favourite was pipped to the post by Imprimis after cutting out the running. Bound For Nowhere has plenty of Ascot experience and performed superbly in this race 12 months ago. If he is better drawn this time around and finds a bit of early cover, he could give the market leaders a real headache.

Bound For Nowhere (left) is beaten into third as Merchant Navy (right) wins the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

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2019 Royal Ascot tips - Five of the best ante-post punts

We take a look through the ante-post betting markets for this year’s Royal Ascot and highlight five horses to back before the meeting starts on Tuesday 18th June

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