Queen Anne Stakes preview: Laurens looks value in Royal Ascot openerPublished on: June 17, 2019Author: Jamie Clark
Royal Ascot 2019 gets underway with the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes over the straight mile for older horses on Tuesday (14:30).
Laurens looks a bit of value at 13/2 with Unibet to go one better than her return to action – a run which she should come on for.
This top class four-year-old filly is trained by Karl Burke, and stepped up on her impressive juvenile form and reappearance in the 1000 Guineas last season by winning four of her next five starts at Group 1 level.
Although unable to match shock 66/1 Classic winner Billesdon Brook on the Rowley Mile, Laurens has proven herself a hugely consistent sort over that trip and further.
Narrow victories in the Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp and Chantilly’s Prix de Diane over in France saw her do just enough to win. That’s the mark of a true champion.
While stepping up to 1m 4f in the Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor Festival was beyond her stamina, Laurens showed she was as good as ever when down in trip for two early autumn outings.
In the first of those on Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown, she lowered the colours of Jessica Harrington wonder filly Alpha Centauri – a winner at this meeting last year – when landing the Matron Stakes by three-quarters of a length.
Although Laurens benefited from her major rival losing her action at a key part of that race, there was no fluke about how she followed-up in the Sun Chariot at Newmarket.
She made most and held on in game fashion to score by a head. Connections may have gone to the well once too often with Laurens though, as she was only eighth over course and distance in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day.
Mustashry must prove Lockinge form
That race was run on soft ground – a surface on which she hadn’t appeared on before and shaped as if not suiting her.
It could be thus worth forgiving Laurens that in conditions which clearly weren’t ideal after a long season.
She was then far from disgraced on reappearance when chasing home Mustashry in the Lockinge at Newbury, which looks a key piece of form for punters betting on this race.
Although Laurens was beaten 2 1/2 lengths and meets Mustashry off the same terms, the winner had the benefit of a run under his belt and came into the Lockinge race-fit whereas several rivals didn’t.
That leaves the form open to question and it would be no surprise to see this ultra-tough filly reverse it.
Laurens must thus be on any shortlist in a race that is even more open than the betting suggests.
Mustashry may have it all to do to prove his Lockinge victory was no fluke, meanwhile, and is 11/2 with Betfred to follow-up.
Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who saddled three consecutive Queen Anne winners at the turn of the century including Kalanisi and Medicean, this six-year-old Hamdam Al Maktoum owned gelding is a typical late bloomer from his yard.
In Mustashry, Stoute has a course and distance winner who has matured with age and progressed from handicap company to pattern performer.
He also boasts a 50 per cent career strike rate in stakes events and victories include the Group 3 Strensall at the 2017 Ebor Festival over 7f and last year’s Group 2 Joel Stakes at Newmarket.
Landing the Lockinge was a career best from Mustashry on just his second Group 1 start, but there is a sense Jim Crowley’s mount may be worth taking on.
Le Brivido needs better luck
Three previous Royal Ascot winners line-up in the 16-runner field, and Aidan O’Brien trained French import Le Brivido heads the betting at a top-price 9/2 with Boylesports after an eye-catching late run in the Lockinge.
Formerly in the care of top French handler Andre Fabre, this lightly-raced five-year-old fluffed the start at Newbury.
Le Brivido found himself short of room two out and had to be switched before making headway and finishing fast to go down by four lengths.
Given how the race panned out, to almost snatch fourth from Irish Classic winner Romanised was a performance which can be upgraded. Le Brivido won the Group 3 Jersey Stakes over 7f here two years ago.
For some reason, this horse seems to find trouble in-running and has fallen out the stalls more than once in his career.
Le Brivido is clearly very talented, however, and if anyone can find the key to him it’s Ballydoyle maestro O’Brien.
At the odds on offer, everything needs to drop right for him to be worthy of favouritism.
Given connections, he is still respected but also worth taking on as he clearly hasn’t been the most straightforward.
Barney Roy also won at Royal Ascot 2017 when landing the St James’s Palace Stakes on the round course by a cosy length.
Powerful owners Godolphin put him out to stud, but the five-year-old flopped and has since been gelded.
Now trained by Charlie Appleby, Barney Roy came on for being held a neck on his return to action over course and distance by winning a Listed contest in Longchamp.
The top-price 6/1 with Betfair is based on him recapturing his best form, having also won the Greenham and chased home Churchill in the 2000 Guineas two years ago.
Last year’s winner Accidental Agent each-way value
Outside of the market principals, last season’s Queen Anne hero Accidental Agent is solid each-way value at 12/1 with William Hill if treated on the pick of his form.
This Eve Johnson Houghton trained five-year-old has won two of his last four starts at Ascot and, although a surprise 33/1 victor 12 months ago, shaped very well when third in the Lockinge.
It was an improvement on last year of three places from Accidental Agent and he was only half-a-length behind Laurens. Like the filly, it was his return to action and he looks sure to strip fitter for the run.
Accidental Agent has less on Lockinge form – just three lengths – than a 5lb difference in official figures with ratings topper Mustashry suggests.
Hazapour is another interesting Irish contender for trainer Dermot Weld and eye-catching jockey booking Frankie Dettori.
This Aga Khan owned four-year-old colt is another lightly-raced sort who is two from two over the trip and the ready winner of a Group 3 at Leopardstown last time out.
Prior to that, Hazapour was fifth in a very hot similar grade affair over further at Naas behind the likes of in-form filly Magical and Irish Classic heroes Flag Of Honour and Latrobe on reappearance.
He was also a seven-length fifth to Masar in last year’s Epsom Derby and remains unexposed at this distance. Hazapour is thus another each-way contender at 10/1 with Coral if progressing again.
Of the remainder, aforementioned Lockinge fourth Romanised is arguably overpriced as a 33/1 outsider with 888Sport given his Classic credentials.
While this Kevin Condon trained four-year-old has is yet to repeat his Curragh heroics, he was again only a length or so behind Laurens.