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Blackbeard leads Irish charge for Aidan O’Brien as Royal Ascot kicks into gear

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Baaeed will be hotly fancied to remain unbeaten in the opener at Royal Ascot, the Queen Anne Stakes. Photo: David Davies/PA

Baaeed will be hotly fancied to remain unbeaten in the opener at Royal Ascot, the Queen Anne Stakes. Photo: David Davies/PA

Baaeed will be hotly fancied to remain unbeaten in the opener at Royal Ascot, the Queen Anne Stakes. Photo: David Davies/PA

If odds are anything to go by then it should be a profitable time for Irish raiders at Royal Ascot with 13 favourites going to post, but the ultra-competitive week will be as unpredictable as ever when today’s action kicks off.

The biggest prize on day one is the Group One Queen Anne Stakes (2.30) where Baaeed – the highest-rated horse in the world – looks impossible to oppose in the €700,000 opener.

William Haggas’ superstar can remain unbeaten and make it eight from eight with Saeed bin Suroor’s Real World chasing him home again as Aidan O’Brien’s Order Of Australia faces a tall order on all known form.

The King’s Stand Stakes (3.40) has a real international feel with the best of Australia in Nature Strip taking on the cream of the US in Golden Pal, while Czech Republic hope Ponntos adds even more intrigue. Jack Davison’s Mooneista and the Michael Browne-trained Logo Hunter must produce career-best efforts to make the frame with Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal tipped to continue his trainer’s love affair with the Royal meeting.

English 2,000 Guineas winner Coroebus is the warm-order favourite in the third Group One of the day, the St James’s Palace Stakes (4.20), and Charlie Appleby’s charge will take some stopping but New Energy may prove the each-way value. Sheila Lavery’s stable star was second to Native Trail in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and there may be even more to come from Robbie Colgan’s mount.

O’Brien has an outstanding string of juveniles this season and Blackbeard bids to make it four from four in the Group Two Coventry Stakes (3.05), while second string Age Of Kings is also not without its chance.

Michael O’Callaghan’s comfortable Navan winner Harry Time and Ado McGuinness’ outsider Ti Sento also line up, but Marble Hill winner Blackbeard could take some pegging back under Ryan Moore while that pair will also be fancied to take the closing handicap (6.10) through Cleveland.

Gordon Elliott may also be smiling with exciting hurdler Pied Piper switching to the level under Jamie Spencer in a hot handicap (5.0).

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