TWE Royal Ascot Ante-Post Lucky 15


Ascot Gold Cup - Cross Counter 9/2

The first horse in our Lucky 15 is the Godolphin owned Cross Counter trained by Charlie Appleby and this four year old although will be tackling his hardest race yet, he looks to have a great chance of landing arguably the feature contest of Royal Ascot.

Although the Gold Cup field will include last season's unbeaten Stradivarius we think Cross Counter is the four year old that can break that duck.

He came on the scene at Goodwood last year setting a course record in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes and from there looked a smart animal.

He was unfortunate to finish a narrow second to stablemate Old Persian in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur at York the time after but from that run he has turned into smarter horse.

In November last year he was put into the Melbourne Cup over 2 miles for the first time at this trip and became the first ever British winner of the Aussie Group 1.

He backed that up in March this season by landing the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup. If being fit, healthy and similar form to these two runs he holds a huge chance in the Ascot Gold Cup.

Kings Stands Stakes - Battaash 5/2

The next horse in the ante-post lucky 15 comes in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes over five furlongs and we have gone for the highly rated Battaash for trainer Charles Hills.

This five year old on his day is one of the fastest horses on the planet and showed that last season at Glorious Goodwood in the Group 2 King George Qatar Stakes when setting the field a light.

From there he was hit and miss and although ran well in defeat never gave his strongest performance but from his first run this season looks to be back to his best.

On his seasonal debut at the back end of May in the Group Temple Stakes at Haydock he dominated a smart field of sprinters who had already ran this season.

This was a perfect prep run heading into this Group 1 at Royal Ascot and although he will need reverse last seasons form with Blue Point he is the leading challenger.

Hardwicke Stakes - Crystal Ocean 7/4

The penultimate horse of the win lucky 15 comes in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes and Crystal Ocean for master trainer Sir Michael Stoute looks to be the one to beat.

Crystal Ocean is one of the most unluckiest horses in training having ran superbly in some great races but never been able to land that Group 1 win.

However at Listed and Group 2 and 3 level he is a dangerous horse to back against and in this Group 2 contest from the way he has ran this season can't be overlooked on our part.

The now five year old horse handles Ascot well finishing second behind Cracksman and Poet's Word in Group 1 contests in the past and in this race with no such quality around he should take all the beating.

On his two outings this season he has been remarkable landing the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown on his seasonal debut and backing that up with a better performance in the Group 3 Al Raayan Stakes at Newbury that sets a perfect precedent for this contest.

Coronation Stakes - Hermosa 3/1

The final horse of the bet and has just been confirmed to run in this race is the dual 1000 guineas winner Hermosa for trainer Aidan O'Brien.

This filly was smart as a two year old winning twice with her best performance coming in the Group 3 Weld Park Stakes at Naas.

She also ran really well in defeat as a juvenile finishing second on two occasions in group 1 company, once at Newmarket in the bet365 Fillies Mile and the other in Chantilly.

Coming back as a three year old she has been magnificent, maturing and looking like a much more experienced and knowledgable horse.

She made her seasonal return at Newmarket in the 1000 Guineas where she stayed on nicely over a mile to land her first Group 1 contest and back to back Classics for her trainer.

Her next run came in the Irish 1000 Guineas where she was even more impressive blitzing her rivals again at the Curragh to secure back to back Group 1 wins, stay unbeaten for the season and see her go to the top of the standings for the Cartier Horse Of The Year award.

She will take all of the beating in this one.