Hot To Trot: Royal Ascot Special

We identify three in-form trainers who it may be worth keeping an eye on at Royal Ascot tomorrow.

Mark Johnston 

Considering he's the winning-most British trainer of all-time, Mark Johnston has always been known as much for quantity as he is for quality, sending out a mind-bending 1,444 runners in 2018, though he tends to be particularly productive during the summer months.

Trainer : Mark Johnston
Trainer : Mark Johnston Picture: Pat Healy Photography

As you’d expect, Johnston has a multitude of entries at Royal Ascot next week, and several are worthy of a second look, beginning with Visinari, who holds an entry in Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes. A £55,000 purchase as a yearling, he looked something out of the ordinary when making a winning debut at Newmarket earlier this month, scoring by three and a half lengths. An exciting prospect, his Timeform rating is the highest we’ve seen from a two-year-old so far this year, and he will take plenty of beating with more improvement likely.

Another to note in the race for Johnston is Monoski, who was beaten by the exciting Bomb Proof on debut at York last month, and still looked a little rough around the edges when opening his account at Pontefract last time, but that was an impressive performance and he’s well worth his place in the line-up. Another interesting two-year-old from the yard is Misty Grey, who’s entered in both the Windsor Castle Stakes on Wednesday, and the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday. He went off too quickly when third in the Woodcote at Epsom last time, but the speed he showed that day was particularly impressive, and he would be of interest if able to run more efficiently at the Royal meeting.

Johnston’s best chance at scooping one of the blue riband races at the meeting is perhaps with Dee Ex Bee in Thursday’s Ascot Gold Cup, though in Nayef Road he also has a live chance in one of the other stayering races at the meeting – Wednesday’s Queen’s Vase. He looked to be on a tough mark at Epsom last time, but he would be dangerous under a front-running ride now returned to Group 2 level.

William Haggas

Trainer : William Haggas
Trainer : William Haggas Picture: Pat Healy Photography

Like Mark Johnston, William Haggas tends to be most productive in the summer months, and he will head into the Royal meeting in particularly good heart - with 75% of his string currently running to form on Timeform's figures. 

Haggas also has a strong team assembled for Royal Ascot next week, and several are worthy of a second look, beginning with Adeyybb, who comes out top on Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings for Tuesday's Wolferton Stakes. He's at his best in more testing conditions, meaning the recent rain we've seen will suit him down to the ground, and he's one to take very seriously on these terms considering he won a Group 2 contest as recently as 14 months ago. 

Due to run on Wednesday is Seniority, who is owned by the Queen and is due to run in the Royal Hunt Cup. Having run twice in Dubai over the winter, he shaped well after four months off to finish second at Epsom at the beginning of the month, when no match for the winner but keeping on well inside the final furlong. He was seventh in the same race last year, and he will likely run well once again off his current mark. Meanwhile, Haggas' best chance on Wednesday is undoubtedly Sea of Class, who runs in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, though Pretty Baby looks to have strong claims in a open-looking renewal of the Duke of Cambridge Stakes after a pleasing win on reappearance in a Group 3 contest at Lingfield last month. 

Later in the week, both Boerhan and Sinjaari look to have solid claims in Thursday's King George V Stakes. The latter is particularly interesting, having shaped well on handicap debut at Newbury last time, and will be suited by the extra two furlongs or so here. Meanwhile, Island of Life struggled to fire back on turf at Haydock last time, but she would have claims in Saturday's Wokingham Stakes if able to translate her useful all-weather form to the grass, while Awe isn't without a chance in in Thursday's Britannia Stakes after taking a big step forward to win a handicap at Newbury last time. 

Ian Williams

Trainer: Ian Williams
Trainer: Ian Williams Picture: (Harry Trump/Getty Images

Although Ian Williams' squad for next week's Royal meeting is considerably smaller than the above two yards, he has a good record at Ascot, with just over 62% of his 66 runners at the track running to form over the past five seasons.

Williams has two entered in Tuesday's Ascot Stakes, in the form of The Grand Visir and Time To Study, and it is the latter who is the more interesting of the two. Admittedly, it's been a while since he gave his running, but he took a step back in the right direction in the Chester Cup last time, finishing eighth, and arrives here 2 lb lower than his last winning mark - so he could be one to note at a bigger price. On Wednesday, Shady McCoy looks likely to run in the Royal Hunt Cup. Like Time To study, it's been a while since he last got his head in front, but he's gradually been getting closer to his form in three starts so far this season, and he could be another to keep an eye on at a big price off his current mark. 

The headline act for Williams is undoubtedly Magic Circle, who will take his chance in Thursday's Ascot Gold Cup. He looked a stayer to follow when winning last year's Chester Cup, and although things didn't go to plan at the Melbourne Cup last November, when bursting a blood vessel and finishing down the field, he took a step back in the right direction when third over an inadequate trip in last month's Ormonde Stakes at Chester, and he wouldn't have to find too much on his best form to have a say in this - though he would have to prove he stays the extreme trip. Finally, Sir Maximilian returned to form when winning on reappearance at Doncaster last month, and he would have each-way claims in Saturday's Wokingham Stakes if able to build on that.