The best of the best arrive for a royal rumble at Ascot

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Able Friend

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ROYAL Ascot kicks off on Wednesday morning with three Group 1’s in store for racing punters all around the globe.

Day 1 starts with what most are predicting will be a head-to-head battle in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes as Solow ($2.62 at Sportsbet.com.au) takes on the world’s highest rated miler, Able Friend ($2.75).

There are other runners in the field, but the French-trained Solow and the Hong Kong raider Able Friend have separated themselves in the ranks and they could run the easy quinella.

The Freddy Head-trained Solow has drawn advantageously in barrier two, whilst Able Friend will be made to work from barrier seven.

The ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira will be on board the champion Able Friend and punters should be pleased that the world’s best rider will be steering the current second favourite.

Able Friend opened at $3.20 with most bookmakers, but has come for solid support throughout the week. There have been concerned about the uphill nature of the Royal Ascot track and that Solow will be better suited by it, but don’t discredit Able Friend because of that.

Other chances in the market include Night Of Thunder ($6) and Toormore at $9.50, but stick with the two champion runners at the head of the betting.

2015 Queen Anne Stakes field and odds:

1. Able Friend – $2.75
2. Cougar Mountain – $41
3. Glory Awaits – $67
4. Here Comes When – $23
5. Night Of Thunder – $6
6. Solow – $2.62
7. Toormore – $9.50
8. Esoterique – $23

Shamal Wind draws well for King’s Stand Stakes

The Robert Smerdon-trained Shamal Wind gives Australian’s their only hope in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes and it has drawn favourably in barrier four.

The lightly-framed mare will appreciate the inside draw, but it will need to find some early space in a large field of 19 runners.

Cox Plate-winning rider Ryan Moore takes the reins and his experience riding Group 1 winners all around the world will hold Shamal Wind in good stead.

Bookmakers have it on the fourth line of betting at $8 and the large field should set it up for its trademark whirlwind finish.

Current favourite is last years winner Sole Power ($4.50 at CrownBet.com.au) which will partner once again with jockey Richard Hughes.

The talented runner has drawn just outside Shamal Wind in barrier six and should get a good run in transit. It will attract plenty of interest from punters as experience on the Royal Ascot track is a key factor when betting this carnival.

The Williams Haggas-trained Muthmir has also attracted plenty of attention from bettors and currently sits at $5.50 in the market.

2015 King’s Stand Stakes field and odds:

1. G Force – $15
2. Goldream – $21
3. Hot Streak – $21
4. Jack Dexter – $26
5. Justice Day – $41
6. Lancelot Du Lac – $67
7. Medicean Man – $41
8. Muthmir – $5.50
9. Pearl Secret – $17
10. Rangali – $17
11. Robot Boy – $41
12. Sole Power – $4.50
13. Spirit Quartz – $34
14. Stepper Point – $34
15. Steps – $51
16. Take Cover – $26
17. Mecca’s Angel – $7
18. Shamal Wind – $8
19. Wind Fire – $34

St James’s Palace Stakes field and odds

Possibly one of the most disappointing fields of the carnival is for the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes for three-year-old colts.

It has attracted a field of only five runners, but that could be due to Gleneagles dominating the market at $1.57 with WilliamHill.com.au.

Gleneagles has made light work of its opposition this season and punters will be looking to include it in their multi-bets.

There has been specking for both Make Believe ($4.33) and Consort ($6.50), but expect Gleneagles to sit around the $1.50 price and be very tough to beat.

St James’s Palace Stakes field:

Gleneagles – $1.57 at Sportsbet.com.au
Make Believe – $4.33
Consort – $6.50
Belardo – $26
Aktabantay – $34
Lathernach – $41

That concludes the Group 1 action on Day 1 of Royal Ascot. Check back in for Day 2 which features the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes where the David Hayes-trained Criterion will run for the Aussies.

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