Trainer Andrew Balding went into this year’s Royal Ascot meeting aiming to better the tally of four winners he achieved at the 2023 edition.
In an interview with Betway ahead of the event, Balding described Royal Ascot as the ‘most important meeting of the year’ for flat racing.
While Balding may be disappointed after recording just one victory from 27 runners, the meeting may produce plenty of future winners for the stable. Here are our top picks.
Holguin – Coventry Stakes
This scopey colt is from the first crop of Havana Grey and his physical presence and athleticism made him a standout at the sales.
Holguin impressed when winning on his debut at Newbury in April, before producing a solid performance to finish second at the same track the following month.
He showed up well for a long way in the Coventry Stakes, before fading back through the field to finish 14th out of 17 runners.
The horse was not knocked about during the closing stages and left the impression that there is more to come when he learns to settle a little better.
Coltrane – Ascot Stakes
After a few disappointments on the opening day, Balding finally fired home a winner as Coltrane claimed a memorable victory in the Ascot Stakes.
Coltrane had finished second by Cleveland in last month’s Chester Cup and was surprisingly rated as a 14/1 to go one better at the royal meeting.
Ridden by five-pound claimer Callum Hutchinson, the five-year-old was guided into the lead in the straight before staying on strongly to the line.
Coltrane still looks well handicapped and it would be no surprise to see the horse grab another top staying prize before the end of the campaign.
Chateau – Windsor Castle Stakes
Having run out an impressive winner of the Two-Year-Old Trophy Conditions Stakes at Beverley in May, Chateau was strongly fancied to run a big race at Royal Ascot.
He ultimately finished fourth in the Windsor Castle, but closer inspection of the run suggests Chateau remains a horse to follow in the future.
Winner Little Big Bear was amongst the small seven-runner group on the far side, with Chateau faring second-best from that side after the field converged.
The horse may well benefit from a step up to six furlongs and it would be no surprise to see him tackle the July Stakes at Newmarket next month.
Bakeel – Norfolk Stakes
Balding’s juveniles generally improve for their first run, which made the 9/1 on offer for Bakeel in the Norfolk Stakes look extremely tempting.
The Sioux Nation colt scored impressively over the same course and distance on his debut to deservedly book his place at Royal Ascot.
He pressed the leaders in the Norfolk to the two-furlong marker, before running on at the same pace after being denied a clear run.
Bakeel is another Balding juvenile that could be helped by moving up in distance and is a horse worth following in the future.
Teumessias Fox – King George V Stakes
Teumessias Fox looked a horse full of promise when romping home by more than eight lengths in a novice event at Newcastle earlier in the season.
He flopped on his next outing ay Epsom, before finishing a well-beaten second behind Brayden Star in a Class 3 handicap at Salisbury.
A tilt at the King George V Stakes looked highlight ambitious, but the horse belied his odds of 50/1 to finish sixth behind some talented rivals.
The three-year-old stayed on well in the closing stages and looks nailed on to pick up a decent 12 furlong race this season.
Koy Koy – Britannia Stakes
The Britannia Stakes generally produces plenty of eye-catchers and this year’s renewal was certainly no different in that respect.
Koy Koy went into the race on a handy mark having run a promising race in defeat in a Class 2 handicap at Chester in May.
The Acclamation colt showed up well for a long way in the Britannia, making headway with two furlongs to go before being outpaced close home.
Koy Koy finished 10th of 30 runners, but was only five-and-a-half lengths behind the winner and should be capable of picking up a decent race in the future.
Tactical – Buckingham Palace Stakes
Tactical made a promising return to action at Newbury in April and was strongly fancied to step up on that effort in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.
The four-year-old raced sweetly on the wrong side of the group before being hampered at a crucial stage with a couple of furlongs to run.
He finished the race with a flourish to nab sixth place and looks a winner waiting to happen for Balding based on this performance.
Tactical beat Group 1 winner Naval Crown at Newmarket last season and should be capable of success at handicap level.
The Foxes – Chesham Stakes
Balding waxed lyrical about The Foxes ahead of the Chesham Stakes, describing him as ‘potentially a very smart horse’.
He had been working well at home, before producing an eye-catching performance on his debut at Newbury in a race that has worked out well.
However, after showing nicely during the early stages of the Chesham, The Foxes found little under pressure and faded back into ninth place.
It will be interesting to see where Balding goes next with The Foxes as he clearly holds the horse in high regard.
Groundbreaker – Golden Gates Stakes
The penultimate race of the meeting saw Groundbreaker outrun his odds of 25/1 to finish fourth in the Golden Gate Stakes.
After racing freely in rear, Groundbreaker was pushed along at the two-furlong pole before being denied a clear run.
Jockey Andrea Atzeni galvanised his mount in the final furlong to go snatch fourth place in the final 100 yards.
A step up to 12 furlongs could bring about further improvement in Groundbreaker and he looks well worth following this season.