With British racegoers combining the celebration of the world’s greatest horse racing fixture with the 90th birthday of The Queen, many will be hoping for a royal winner at Royal Ascot.
While The Queen has a few runners with chances throughout the five-day meeting, it might be her son, Prince Charles, who has the best chance with his homebred colt Carntop (6/1) expected to go well in the Group 2 King Edward Vii Stakes on Friday, the race named after his great-great grandfather.
Carntop, Favorite to Win King Edward VII Stakes and Owned by Prince Charles
Trained by Ralph Beckett and both owned and bred by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, Carntop is a progressive son of Dansili who connections seriously considered running in the Investec Derby earlier this month.
They eventually decided against heading to Epsom, where Humphrey Bogart, the horse who caught Carntop close home to win the listed Lingfield Derby Trial in May, ran a fine race to be a fast-finishing fifth.
Humphrey Bogart (10/1), Top Contender
Humphrey Bogart (10/1), trained by Richard Hannon, is also entered for Friday’s race, but there might be a question mark over whether he has had sufficient time to recover from a hard race at Epsom. There are no concerns on that score for Carntop who was having his first run since winning a Newmarket maiden in October and probably blew up close home at Lingfield.
He will be fresher than many of his rivals and is likely still improving. Soft ground would be a concern though with Prince Charles’ colt having only raced on a sound surface to date.
Beacon Rock (5/1), Aidan O’Brien Contender
According to the statistics, if there is one trainer to avoid following over the years in this race it is none other than the world’s No.1, Aidan O’Brien, whose sole victory from stacks of runners came with the long-forgotten Five Dynasties in 2004.
Ahead of the five-day declaration stage no less than seven of the 21 entries were trained by O’Brien with his Beacon Rock currently the 5/1 ante-post favourite.
A good winner of the 10-furlong Group 3 Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh on May 22, he made every yard of the running that day on easy ground and shaped very much as if he would relish the extra two furlongs at Ascot. O’Brien might only run two or three in the race in the end, but Beacon Rock looks to be the stable’s prime contender at this stage.
O’Brien’s Bravery (14/1) was badly hampered and had no luck at all for Ryan Moore in last week’s French Derby at Chantilly and probably didn’t have a hard race. He had previously finished fourth in the Irish 2000 Guineas and is no forlorn hope if given the green light to race again.
Linguistic 18/1 and Muntahaa (20/1), John Gosden Contenders
Contrary to O’Brien, British champion trainer John Gosden has a fine record in this race having won it three times since 2005, most recently with the smart Eagle Top in 2014. Linguistic (18/1)and Muntahaa (20/1) are Gosden’s two possible runners.
Linguistic was beaten a hair’s breadth in the listed Dee Stakes at Chester in May having previously beaten the subsequent Oaks third Harlequeen in a hot sales race at Newmarket. He was surprisingly beaten at odds-on at Newmarket in a muddling four-runner listed race on fastish ground, so a stronger pace and easier underfoot conditions might see him in a different light.
Muntahaa has plenty to find on form having only won an all-weather maiden at Kempton, but he was very impressive and his trainer clearly holds him in high regard. He is obviously believed to have plenty of stamina as he also holds an entry in the two-mile Queen’s Vase at this meeting.
Abdon (20/1) and Across the Stars (20/1), Sir Michael Stoute Contenders
Sir Michael Stoute is another trainer with a fine record in this race having won it six times since the success of Shareef Dancer in 1983. His possible contenders are Abdon (20/1), runner-up in a listed event at Newmarket in May on only his second ever run, and Across The Stars (20/1), unlucky-in-running when a close third to Humphrey Bogart and Carntop at Lingfield, but who could finish only 10th (beaten 19 lengths) behind Harzand in the Investec Derby at Epsom.
The more conventional Ascot tack might bring about better fortune for this likeable Sea The Stars colt who is no forlorn hope, but, like Humphrey Bogart, there is a question mark about him having recovered from his efforts at Epsom just 13 days before this event.
In the News
 racinguk.com, Ralph Beckett hoping Carntop can strike for Prince Charles, 2016