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Royal Ascot - Commonwealth Cup

Friday's running at Royal Ascot sees the inauguration of a new race: the 15:40 Commonwealth Cup.

Knocking the Buckingham Palace Stakes out of the traditional running order, this race seems to be a popular addition. It's certainly attracted the kind of lineup that would make any other race organiser weak at the knees. As ever, we've gone through the runners and riders to bring you our pick of the best priced horses.

The two horses vying to be favourite at the bookies are Limato and Hootenanny, and of the two we're leaning towards Hootenanny. He had success here last year in the Windsor Castle Stakes, and he took an easy win in April at Keeneland suggesting that's he's as in form as ever. Limato finally saw defeat for the first time recently at Haydock, albeit on very poor ground, and we think this race will show him his second taste of second place, with Hootenanny's ability to stay over a mile likely enough to see him right on the day.

The best place to back him is at PaddyPower, who are offering a market leading 7/2.

Looking further down the prices, Muhaarar stands out to us as a horse who is priced far longer than we feel he deserves.

In the Greenham he had the best of both Estidhkaar and Ivawood, no mean feat, and although he finished eighth in the French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp he was actually only six lengths back from the winner after recovering from a bad draw.

Switching back to a sprint is probably a smart move for him, and at his current prices it's a good move for the punters too! The best place we found to back him was at BetFred, who are offering a very decent 12/1.

Finally, looking at the very long odds will show you a lot of known good sprinters at very big prices. They're not all worth backing, but we'd put a word in for Profitable, who recently showed up Tendu at York with a sublime run. If his price had shortened as a result we wouldn't be so keen, but far from it. You can pick him up at a very tempting 40/1 right now over at SkyBet.

Royal Ascot - Opening Day

It's time again for one of the absolute highlights of the flat racing season - Royal Ascot.

Day One offers some choice racing, but how you make your own choices when it comes to picking the winners? Fortunately we've done the work for you, so here are our big tips for the opening day...

The first race is the 14:30 Queen Anne Stakes, and two horses have a big claim on it.
Solow and Able Friend both come into this race with six race winning streaks behind them. It's possibel that both horses will have that streak broken on the day, but we don't think it's likely. We're certain one or other will take the win - but which?

This is one of those cases where it's almost impossible to draw a line between them. Able Friend is perhaps a little out of his comfort zone, but he's an incredible racer and in the international classifications he's ranked the second best horse in the world. On top of that, he's the longer of the two in the odds, though not by much. When faced with a tough choice, the best return will always be on the slightly better priced horse, so we're sticking with Able Friend for this one.

He's level pegging with Solow at some bookies, but at SkyBet you can back him at an excellent, market leading 11/4.

Moving on to the 15:40 King's Stand Stakes we can't look past the favourite and current double champion Sole Power.

A hat trick of wins would be incredibly popular with the punters, although not so much with the bookies, and he has every chance of achieving it. With conditions currently good, good to firm in places, and no more watering expected before the meeting begins, the ground should be absolutely perfect for him.

On fast turf he's one of the hardest horses to beat, and we're advising a trip to ToteSport, where he's priced a decent 4/1 and where you'll also get your money back as a free bet if he finishes second to arguably his biggest rival Shamai Wind.

Finally, the big race of the day is the 16:20 St James's Palace Stakes. All the talk has been of Gleneagles, and on paper it looks rather a one horse race given that the 2000 Guineas runner up Territories is missing the race due to a stone bruise.

The favourite does not make for great odds, though, and with one Fabre horse withdrawn we're now leaning towards the other one to potentially provide some value in this encounter.

Make Believe has won the French Guineas, and that form was confirmed by the runner up later taking the Prix du Jockey Club. What's more the trainer already has a decent idea of how he rates against Gleneagles thanks to Territories.

There's no doubt it will be a tough race, but when you can get Make Believe at 7/2 over at Ladbrokes we reckon it's worth a punt taking on the favourite.

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