For the second day running, the sun is beating down as spectators gather at Royal Ascot, but the hot, dry weather has not been universally welcome and Lord North, last year’s winner, has been ruled out of the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes this morning after John Gosden decided that the good-to-firm ground would not be suitable.
Chris Stickels, the clerk of the course, put 4mm of water on the track overnight, but that only ensured that the going was not firm – a description that you only tend to see these days at a track like Bath, which does not have a watering system – by the start of racing today. Even so, by 4.20, the off-time for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, the ground is likely to be as fast as it has been at the Royal meeting since at least 2008, when the Friday card was run on firm ground.
There is unlikely to be any need to water this evening, with thunderstorms expected overnight and more rain forecast for tomorrow, but it will be too late for Lord North, whose absence leaves Aidan O’Brien with a stranglehold on the feature race.
Love, who looked exceptional in winning both the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks last season, appears to face her biggest challenge from stable companion Armory, and Ryan Moore, O’Brien’s number one rider, will very much be hoping that he is on the right one from the Ballydoyle stable for a change. Moore has ridden only one of O’Brien’s last 11 Group One or Grade One winners, in Hong Kong in December 2020, and has been on a beaten runner from Ballydoyle in five of the other nine races.
But Moore is still a solid second-favourite to be the meeting’s top jockey despite drawing a blank on Tuesday, a sign of the apparent strength of O’Brien’s team throughout today’s card, while Frankie Dettori, the favourite, is an even-money shot after getting on the board in the opening race on hot favourite Palace Pier.
Love is now odds-on for the main event at around 5-6, while Wordsworth (5-2) will be another favourite for Moore in the Queen’s Vase at 3.05. Astro King is another big fancy in the Royal Hunt Cup, while Dettori’s best chance this afternoon looks to come later, on the 2-1 shot Ruthin in the Windsor Castle Stakes.
Tips for all of today’s races are here, the action is underway with the Queen Mary Stakes at 14.30 (BST) and you can follow all the action as it happens here throughout the day. Enjoy the Ascot sunshine (while it lasts)!