It is one of the biggest racing events on the sporting calendar.
Royal Ascot commences next Tuesday in predicted sun-baked temperatures; the ground is likely to be on the quick side, due to the forecast dry spell, and during the five days there are no fewer than eighteen Group races.
On the first day, the bankers look set to be last year’s Jersey Stakes winner Ribchester (8/11), who contests the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile. Churchill (4/6), is another warm favourite, expected to become the fifth 2000 Guineas winner, and to land the St James’s Palace Stakes.
It may pay to double these two up, as both horses are odds on with Grosvenor Sport.
The first juvenile race is the six furlong Coventry Stakes, and it’s the Charlie Hills trained Nebo, who looks terrific each-way value to hit the frame.
I was really impressed with the way he travelled and won a hot Newbury maiden on debut. He looks slightly over-priced here at 16/1.
The older sprinters are ready to take centre stage in the five furlong King’s Stand Stakes
It’s the lightening speed of French raider Signs Of Blessing, and last year’s Queen Mary heroine, Lady Aurelia, that could see them both hard to peg back.
However, the rapid improvement of Marsha could do just that, as she will relish the end to end gallop, appealing to pundits at 4/1.
On the Wednesday, the race that captivates me the most is the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
John Gosden has won it three times (The Fugue – most recently in 2014) and Jack Hobbs (100/30) clearly has a chance of making it win number four.
The 2015 Derby runner-up is lightly-raced, and proved that he still retains all his ability with a stylish win in Meydan back in March.
Highland Reel is likely to try to make it all the way; he demonstrated his prowess in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.
But this is tougher, and he may be blunted by Jack Hobbs turn of speed.
Last year’s winner My Dream Boat is back, but the dry ground may be a big concern for him.
Thursday, is Ladies Day, and the Gold Cup is always one of the highlights of the week.
Ballydoyle maestro, Aidan O’Brien, has farmed this race in recent years (he has won it seven times in the last eleven years) and Order Of St George is going to take some stopping as he bids to defend his crown.
The five-year-old son of Galileo, Order of St George warmed up with a comfortable win at Leopardstown, and is a strong favourite to oblige (Evens).
Chief dangers will be the globe-trotting Big Orange, who won well at Sandown last time, and 2015 St Leger winner Simple Verse.
The latter ran a terrific race in the Yorkshire Cup last month, but will need to step up again. If she does, then she can provide the biggest challenge to Order Of St George, but it’s the hot favourite that could provide O’Brien with yet another Gold Cup success.
The Ribblesdale Stakes sees the three-year-old fillies clash over the mile and a half trip, and the impeccably bred Mori looks a big improver (a half-sister to Kingman, daughter of the mighty Frankel. Her mother, Midday, was a prolific middle distance Group One winner, too).
She didn’t race at two, and is taking time to fully bloom, but there is clearly so much more to come.
Trained by the brilliant Sir Michael Stoute, the extra distance should definitely bring out further improvement, and she looks decent value at 5/1.
On Friday, it’s the Sir Michael Stoute pair, Crystal Ocean and Mirage Dancer, that excite me most in the King Edward the VII Stakes.
Crystal Ocean’s third in the Dante may not have been boosted by the winner Permian at Epsom, but the second Benbatl did finish fifth in the Derby, and he could re-oppose here.
However, the break since his York third demonstrates the trainer’s patience, and the much quicker ground is also bound to suit Crystal Ocean (7/2).
Similar comments apply to Mirage Dancer (6/1), who came an unlucky fourth to Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher at Chester; he is another considerable improver.
It may pay to back them both in singles, or put them into a reverse straight forecast (to finish first and second), as I can see them dominating the finish.
The Commonwealth Cup is contested for just the third time since it’s inception, and Caravaggio, who won at the Royal meeting last season, will bid to maintain his unbeaten record after an impressive recent return at Naas.
The Godolphin duo of Harry Angel and Blue Point are both dangerous opponents, though.
The former won easily at Haydock when allowed to bowl along in front, and that is the key to him, as he is a keen, strong travelling sort.
He was beaten by Blue Point over this course and distance the time before, but never really settled from off the pace that day, and was giving the eventual winner 4lbs.
Charlie Appleby’s Blue Point has been kept fresh for this, and is an imposing well-framed sprinter, but I think he will struggle to confirm the form with Harry Angel.
Clive Cox’s sprinter is a current 3/1 chance.
My betting predictions for Royal Ascot 2017
The final day could provide a royal winner as Dartmouth bids for back to back Hardwicke Stakes.
Sir Michael Stoute’s record in this race is phenomenal as he has won seven out of the last eleven renewals, and that includes Maraahel who won it twice in 2006 and 2007.
I was anticipating a step up in distance following Dartmouth’s recent Yorkshire Cup success, but he has been dropped back to this mile and a half trip, and whilst I greatly respect his claims, it’s his stable companion Poet’s Word (6/1) that interests me more.
This is a fast-improving four-year-old who was a shade unlucky not to defeat Deauville at Chester last time out, and can only improve now stepped up in distance.
I really like his profile, and he gets my vote to see off his stable companion, and the other big improver in the race, Frontiersman.
Royal Ascot Specials Betting
For more horse racing odds, take a look at Grosvenor Sport’s horse racing betting.