Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes rode three winners each to jointly win the top jockey prize at Royal Ascot in 2011 and unsurprisingly, the pair are near the head of the betting to repeat that in 2012 with both quoted at around the 7/2 mark to ride the most winners across the five day meeting which begins on Tuesday 19th June.
The favourite to beat Moore and Hughes is 19 year old Joseph O’Brien, now acknowledged as the leading stable jockey for his father, Aidan, for the Ballydoyle stable, who have dominated the English Classic season so far in 2012. O’Brien will enjoy the pick of his Ballydoyle entries at the Royal meeting and as such, has odds of 2/1 to finish the week as leading jockey with Aidan O’Brien a 4/5 odds on to finish the week as top trainer.
With seven Group One wins already to his name this season, the O’Brien operation is feared by all, although that said, they only have one very obvious chance of glory during the week which comes in the form of Fame And Glory who will be attempting to win the prestigious Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup for a second successive year. With no Camelot at the meeting, the stable will be represented by Irish 2000 Guineas winner, Power in the Group One St James Palace Stakes over a mile on the first day and it is expected that they will take on Frankel in the Queen Anne Stakes with Excelebration in the meeting’s curtain raiser over a mile.
There are plenty of reasons though to have some doubt regarding the latest form of the Ballydoyle stable. They managed only one winner all last week from 16 races and witnessed a number of their expected winners getting themselves well beaten when going off as favourites. Following such a glorious start to the season, it is hard to imagine that ending but given the quality of competition at Ascot, it won’t be easy for O’Brien to dominate and there will be plenty of opportunities for other stables to lay down a challenge to those runners that have made the trip across the Irish Sea.
Moore and Hughes will ride the best of the crop trained by Sir Michael Stoute and Richard Hannon respectively and as such, will have obvious chances of competing with O’Brien. Hannon in particular can be relied upon to get amongst the winners, while Stoute’s yard is coming into some decent form and has had five winners in the past 14 days. Hannon’s yard never seems to be out of form and has enjoyed fifteen wins in the last 14 days, making his odds of 11/4 to finish as top trainer with Stan James far better value than the 8/11 about O’Brien with the same company. Hannon is also expected to bring a very high quality crop of two year olds to the meeting.
Other jockey’s to consider include Tom Queally at 20/1, Johnny Murtagh at 11/1 and William Buick at 10/1. All three come to the Royal Meeting with a decent book of rides. Indeed Queally is sure to ride the first winner of the week with Frankel in the Queen Anne Stakes. Johnny Murtagh is a very popular jockey with most trainers and will always be booked whenever a ride becomes available. He also has a good record on the course with a 21% strike rate over the last five years but Richard Hughes at 3/1 and Richard Hannon @ 11/4 are the picks to finish on top.