Royal Ascot: A guide to all of Andrew Balding's leading hopes

Fri 11 Jun 2021

Andrew Balding is no stranger to Royal Ascot success with six victories at the Royal Meeting during his career.

The Kingsclere trainer looks to have readied an excellent squad for this year’s five-day extravaganza and he took us through the pick of his team, which includes Windsor Castle hero Tactical and recent Listed Haydock scorer King’s Lynn.

The pair hold Group One entries and run in the colours of Her Majesty The Queen, who is likely to be at the track next week on the days when she has horses running.

Read on for your ultimate guide to Balding's top team for the Royal Meeting.

Berkshire Shadow

Coventry Stakes – Tuesday

Watch how Berkshire Shadow won on his debut at Newbury

I somehow managed to buy him for 40,000gns at the Tattersalls Book One Sale. He won really well first time out at Newbury, having fluffed his lines at the start and he picked up really well. The form and has worked out and we always wanted to step him up to six furlongs and I think he is going to make a really nice three-year-old. I don’t want to over-race him this year and we’ve purposely left him for Royal Ascot. He is a horse we are looking forward to.

King’s Lynn

King’s Stand Stakes or Wokingham – Tuesday or Saturday

We haven’t yet decided what race he will run in. He is in the Wokingham which he picked up a penalty to get into following his win at Haydock, so he is theoretically 7lb well-in. However, the King’s Stand has come to prominence as there are obviously question marks about Battaash and beyond him, it looks a fairly open race. It therefore makes it appealing to go for the King’s Stand despite a fair leap from a Listed race to a Group One. He is a horse who is lightly raced and I feel there is plenty more improvement in him. I don’t think ground conditions are a negative either. It’s a decision that John Warren [Queen’s Racing Manager] and the Queen will be involved in making. If I had to bet on it, I think the King’s Stand is the more likely scenario at the moment.


St James’s Palace Stakes or Jersey Stakes – Tuesday or Saturday

 Tactical wins at Royal Ascot last year  (Pic: Focusonracing)
Tactical wins at Royal Ascot last year (Pic: Focusonracing)

We’re just going to wait for the moment. Tactical is a very good horse, he’s won a Group Two already and he would be competitive in the Jersey Stakes. However, the St James’s Palace is also interesting as there are question marks about a couple of the leading players over the ground. It will enhance his prospects as a stallion if he were to finish in the top three in the St James’s Palace. Yes winning a Group Three would be great, but it’s not as essential for him. If we felt he could finish in the first three in the St James’s Palace, we would think about it, but I think the Jersey is more likely, but we’ll see what is likely to turn up on the Tuesday.


Ascot Stakes – Tuesday

He won the Queen Alexandra Stakes a couple of years ago and is interesting if he is to get in, but he needs four or five to come out of the race.

Fox Tal

Wolferton Stakes – Tuesday

I saw he was priced up at 16-1. On his Sandown run, I think he has a great chance. He is an awkward horse in terms of holding his head high. However, I thought he was resolute when getting involved in a good battle with Sangarius when he was second at Sandown and I think he is not without a chance of getting placed.


Queen Mary Stakes – Wednesday

Jason Watson told Lydia Hislop more about Nymphadora after her win at York

We’re looking forward to running her. She doesn’t burn up the gallops at home, she is just straightforward and gets on with what she has to do, but she will be an obvious contender having already won a Listed race, the Marygate, over the distance. I think she will go very well.

Recovery Run

Queen’s Vase – Wednesday

He’s run two disappointing races this term, albeit in the Sandown Classic Trial (ninth) and Lingfield Derby Trial (fifth), but he did his last big piece of work on Wednesday and it was the best he has worked this year. He is by Nathaniel who is the sire of Dashing Willoughby who we won the race with a couple of years ago, but he’s not guaranteed to stay on the dam (Royal Splendour) side. I just could not be happier with him as his latest piece was his best of the year.

Bounce The Blues

Duke of Cambridge Stakes – Wednesday

She looks a very big price to me. She has one more bit of work to do on Saturday, but she seems in good form and as long as that goes well, we’re all set.

Bell Rock

Royal Hunt Cup – Wednesday

He is bringing Group-race form into the race and has 5lb claimer Will Carver on. He would maybe want more time between his races, but he ran really well when third in the Diomed at Epsom last time out and we just thought this was worth a go. The Hunt Cup is notoriously difficult to win. You can win your side by five lengths and get beaten by seven others on the other side. He is very handy horse and whilst it is a lottery, I think he will give Will a great ride.

Grove Ferry

Royal Hunt Cup – Wednesday

He got shuffled back at Chester last time and David Probert gave him a lovely ride to go and win there in the end. These are different ground conditions, but he deserves to be running in a race like this.


Windsor Castle Stakes – Wednesday

He is still a maiden, but he has a bit of experience and he was just beaten at Newcastle last time out. I think the form was good as the winner [Royal Aclaim] is well-regarded so that made me decide to have a go at this race. He is hardy and should run well.


Buckinghamshire Palace – Thursday

He was not drawn very well in the Victoria Cup and finished 11th. We’ve therefore left him for this race and this has been the focal point in effect since Christmas Day! The horse is very talented, he was placed in a Jersey Stakes and is very talented. He’s got the form, but there’s lots of runners charging down the straight at Ascot, so he will need everything to go right.

Spanish Mission

Gold Cup – Thursday

Spanish Mission wins the Yorkshire Cup

William Buick was questioning his stamina, but I always thought he would have no problem staying and I think he has sharpened up as he showed in the Yorkshire Cup. He has plenty of class and hopefully now he is another year older, he is just more mature and has a bit more acceleration. I think he has a great each-way chance.


Commonwealth Cup – Friday

I would have loved to have got a run into him before this race. However, there was only soft ground available at the time. We’ve done plenty of work with him, he may come on for the run, but he is as fit as we can get him playing the hand we have dealt. He is a horse I have always liked. He is by Frankel and he is gorgeous to look at. He’s everything you could ask for physically in a racehorse. I think he will be in the mix and will come on for the run.

Alcohol Free

Coronation Stakes – Friday

 Alcohol Free beats Statement at Newbury (Focusonracing)
Alcohol Free beats Statement at Newbury (Focusonracing)

I don’t think she was at her best when fifth in the 1000 Guineas and I don’t think the draw helped either. She wasn’t able to get much cover and yet she was still only beaten by two lengths. I just got the feeling she wasn’t at her best for whatever reason, but we’ve been very happy with her since. Oisin sat on her recently and we’re all pleased with her.


Duke Of Edinburgh – Friday

He is an interesting horse as this time last year, he was second in a Hardwicke and ran off a mark of 110. He is now down to a mark of 104 in this race and he may just have a bit in hand. He has just come right with his last piece of work, his best piece of work. He goes there with an each-way chance. He is a Group horse in a handicap, hopefully he will be in the mix.


Albany Stakes – Friday

She won well at Kempton on her first start and the third [Oscula] went on to win the Woodcote at Epsom impressively so the form has worked out. She worked well the other day.


Chesham Stakes – Saturday

He was impressive at Goodwood and Oisin Murphy liked him which is a good sign. He is still very raw. The Chesham has become a better race since they relaxed the restrictions and allowed horses whose dams had won over a mile and a quarter or further to run, so you’ve opened up a new pool of horses. I think this race will end up being as strong as the Coventry in time. He’ll have his work cut out, but he is a horse we like.


Hardwicke Stakes – Saturday

 Bangkok is going back up in trip (Focusonracing)
Bangkok is going back up in trip (Focusonracing)

I’m keen on him going back to a mile and a half. He was second in the Qatar Derby and is relaxing a lot better. He isn’t going to cut it at the top level over a mile and a quarter, so we are giving the mile and a half a go again. His options are restricted as he won a Listed race earlier this year. He would have to carry a penalty in the Wolferton and he has the ability to be placed in the Hardwicke.

Happy Power

Diamond Jubilee – Saturday

He has a Group Two penalty through till August and there are just no good seven-furlong races to run him in. I don’t think the six-furlong sprinters are that strong this year, but that’s the reason he is going to run and it is great prize money. He’s an unlikely winner, but he might nick a place.

Chil Chil

Wokingham Handicap – Saturday

She’s in the July Cup and we were tempted to run in the Diamond Jubilee, but to supplement her for £60,000 when she is favourite the Wokingham looked a bold step. She’s in great form and has won at the track. She was hugely impressive at Newmarket last time out. She is s Group horse in a handicap, but will need luck wherever she is drawn.


Queen Alexandra Stakes – Saturday

He is eight-years-old and has been running at the top-level for a while. He is a horse who wants soft ground, but I think the further you go, the better chance they have to travel against slower horses. We’re taking a punt at the trip, but he gets no penalties and I hope he runs well.

Foxes Tales

Golden Gates Handicap – Saturday

He ran well in the Dee Stakes when fifth as he was on and off the bridle and lacked experience. Hopefully he will go well in that event.

Balding is a Betway Ambassador and was speaking at a Royal Ascot preview event hosted by Betway PR Manager Chad Yeomans.

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