Bolger to take Windsor Castle with Ard San Aer
The final race on the opening day of Royal Ascot is the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes for two-year-olds over five furlongs.
American Trainer Wesley Ward has struck twice in this race in previous years with Strike The Tiger (2009) and Hootenanny (2014). He is likely to be represented here by Acapulco, a filly by Scat Daddy out of a mare by End Sweep. She made her debut at Churchill Downs last month where she cut out the early pace before fading into third behind Cat Tree.
Richard Hannon has a powerful team of juveniles and has several entries in this race. Alkhor is a colt by Exceed And Excel who showed promise on his debut when chasing home War Whisper at Goodwood. Nelspruit got off the mark at the Sussex track but was put firmly in his place by Buratino when slammed six lengths in the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom.
Steady Pace looked a smart colt when beating Beaverbrook on his debut at Ascot with King Of Rooks only third. He was favourite to confirm the form with the Hannon colt in the National Stakes at Sandown but was comprehensively beaten into third.
Mark Johnston has multiple entries, the best of which may be Nottingham winner First Party, a grey filly by Royal Applause. She beat Sir Theodore by a length and three-quarters and was very quickly away that day. She is less exposed than stable companions Ravenhoe, Rogues’ Gallery and Fashionable Spirit.
Aidan O’Brien has entered Washington DC and Waterloo Bridge, although the former may take on his Curragh conqueror Round Two in the Coventry Stakes earlier in the day. The son of Zoffany would certainly be a major player if connections decided to run here instead.
Soapy Aitken is unbeaten in two starts for Clive Cox, beating Rogues’ Gallery at Leicester in April and following up in good style at Windsor. He was not that smartly away last time and still showed signs of greenness. Besharah is also unbeaten in two races for William Haggas but the Queen Mary Stakes on Wednesday is her preferred option.
Jim Bolger has high hopes of winning the Coventry Stakes and also saddles a leading contender here in Ard San Aer, a colt by Acclamation out of a mare by Dubawi. He was runner-up to Mimicking on his debut at the Curragh before winning in heavy ground at Leopardstown over six furlongs.
Ard San Aer – Windsor Castle Stakes (Royal Ascot 5.35 Tuesday) @Bet365