Royal Ascot 2021 promises to be a real gala of horseracing. The Queen will be making the short trip from nearby Windsor Castle with the traditional royal procession before racing every day, so racegoers can get a glimpse of the monarch.
It is more than just pageantry, though. Royal Ascot includes eight Group 1 races, so that attracts the absolute best flat thoroughbreds from the British Isles, mainland Europe and even further afield.
They take to the Berkshire track from June 15-19 with seven races per day. Which racehorses are considered “bankers”, locks to win at Royal Ascot 2021, though? Past horse racing results have helped shaped oddsmakers’ markets, and these are the hottest favorites set to run at the meeting this year.
Royal Ascot kicks off with the Queen Anne Stakes over the straight mile, and the best horse in that discipline in Europe, Palace Pier, looks to back-up his win at the meeting last year. An inmate of the powerful John Gosden stable, this four-year-colt took the St James’s Palace Stakes here in 2020.
Palace Pier has only tasted defeat once. That was at Ascot but at the backend of the season on soft autumn ground. He has looked as good as ever in winning both of his starts as a four-year-old, turning the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury into a rout. A repeat of that sees Palace Pier home in front once again.
— PA Racing (@PAracing) April 28, 2021
The champion flat stayer, Stradivarius, is another big equine name trained in Newmarket by Gosden. Already a four-time Royal Ascot winner including success in the Queen’s Vase as a three-year-old, the target is matching the mighty Yeats with a quadruple in the Gold Cup come Ladies Day.
Last fall, Stradivarius tried a shorter distance without success but his owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen wanted to see how the horse fared in Europe’s richest race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris. He is much better during the summertime, however, and for many horse racing previews, that clinches it for him as the most likely winner of Royal Ascot with the proven course and distance form on his side.
Ed Walker, who trains in the equine hub of Lambourn, just an hour’s drive west of Ascot Racecourse, has a real chance of winning a first-ever Group 1 race in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes with Starman. Where Palace Pier is named after an attraction and Stradivarius the maker of high-quality string instruments, this horse could be named after the David Bowie song or DC Comics character.
A progressive colt, Starman built on the promise of winning his first three starts last season with victory on his return to action in the Group 2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes. This was a career best from him, beating last year’s Newmarket July Cup scorer Oxted.
If making further progress in what looks a fairly open Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the final day of Royal Ascot, Starman could sprint his way into the stratosphere and take the stable to new heights.