Fillies are expected to be to the fore as the Prince of Wales Stakes takes centre stage on day two of Royal Ascot.
Ground conditions permitting, Sea Of Class – whose trainer William Haggas intends to walk the track at some stage before racing – and Magical are set to go head-to-head in the 10-furlong showcase.
Last year’s Arc second Sea Of Class will be making her seasonal bow, while Magical already has three wins in the bag this term and her trainer Aidan O’Brien has hit the ground running with two winners.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean is rated the most likely challenger to the super fillies, in what hopefully will still be the race of the meeting at 3.40pm.
The five-furlong Queen Mary Stakes gets proceedings under way, with American trainer Wesley Ward aiming to add to his three recent victories in the race.
Staying is the name of the game in the Queen’s Vase, with St Leger prospects on show in a race that has yielded two top-drawer winners in Kew Gardens and Stradivarius in recent years.
Class to tell
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes is shaping up as an epic battle for supremacy, and it will be fascinating to see how William Haggas’ Sea Of Class fares in her first race for more than eight months, especially on rain-softened ground.
Can Crystal sparkle?
Crystal Ocean is already a Royal Ascot winner, as the hero of last year’s Hardwicke Stakes. Bidding to double up for his trainer – successful in this race 12 months ago, too – to date he has often excelled over slightly further.
Wesley Ward has been a multiple winner at Royal Ascot over the past decade, since Strike The Tiger caused a 33/1 upset in the Windsor Castle Stakes in 2009 – the first American-trained horse to succeed at the meeting. Ward is back in search of further gains.
Who will reign in Queen’s Vase?
The Queen’s Vase has proved a stepping stone to mighty Group 1 potential for the past two years. Is there a Stradivarius or Kew Gardens ready to show us a sign of things to come this time?
Most of all, let’s hope the rain stays away
Sadly for those racegoers in their finery – and there were 45,135 of them – forecasts of rain on the opening afternoon – and plenty of it – proved correct. It failed to dampen spirits too much, but while a dry few days would now be welcome, more rain is in the offing, although the outlook is better from midday onwards.