ROYAL ASCOT 2016: exclusive race-by-race tips and stats for all five days

FASHION AND FORM -- ladies' day at Royal Ascot means dressing up for the occasion and trying to pick a few winners!

FASHION AND FORM -- ladies' day at Royal Ascot means dressing up for the occasion and trying to pick a few winners!

Around about the time of Euro 2012, Sky Sports’ pundit Paul Merson, in his own inimitable fashion, declared: “For me, Leighton Baines is the best left-back in the world right now.”

I recall this classic TV vignette not because it elicited health-threatening chortles across the land. Not even because it enables me to seamlessly congratulate Sky’s excellent football presenter Ed Chamberlin on his appointment as the new anchor-man of terrestrial racing coverage when it switches to ITV next year. But mainly because it’s a telling reminder of how wildly loose and flippant we can be with our praise, and criticism, especially in the sporting arena.

In fact, very few or very little in sport can be labelled the best, or worst, in the world without fear of contradiction. Thankfully, Royal Ascot is one of the exceptions. Globally recognised as an event that showcases the greatest Flat racing on the planet. International competition beyond compare, all played out in a unique and spectacular setting and against the backdrop of a social shindig that openly flaunts pomp, pageantry and heritage.

There are single racedays, such as Arc Day in France or the main Breeders’ Cup day in the USA, that can match Royal Ascot for quality. But not a sustained meeting that captivates and compels for an entire week.

Sadly, this week’s offering has already been sabotaged by the weather. Persistent rain has turned the ground Soft and, with hefty showers forecast throughout the first half of the meeting, conditions are unlikely to improve. Already, three of the week’s main attractions, TIME TEST, ACAPULCO, NEMORALIA and SOLE POWER, have ducked the challenge. More will follow, while others will inevitable flounder in the mud. It’s as if the phrase, ‘rain on my parade’, was specifically designed for Royal Ascot 2016.

Not only will the weather mar the racing, it will also spoil the occasion for the thousands who treat their day out at Ascot as a glorified picnic. The rain will force them inside and under cover, creating uncomfortable crowd-congestion. There are few more British occasions than Royal Ascot. This year’s renewal will certainly require a very British stiff upper-lip to plough through it.

Racegoers must tread carefully not only underfoot but also in the punting field. Unpredictable results are probable. Unfathomable confounding of the formbook is possible. To help you through the week, I’ve come up with my fancies, together with viable alternatives, for each of the 30 races. All selections must be considered possible winners. To add an extra weapon to your punting armoury, I have added a key statistic for each contest, based on race trends built up over a number of years. Good luck -- and stay dry!

DAY ONE (TUESDAY)

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) 1m

KEY STAT: only one filly/mare, the great Goldikova, has won this race in 22 years

TIPS: BELARDO (Ervedya)

3.05 Coventry Stakes (Group 2) 2yo 6f

KEY STAT: 12 of the last 13 winners have returned a single-figure SP

TIPS: MEHMAS (Caravaggio, Psychedelic Funk)

3.40 King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1) 5f

KEY STAT: 12 of the last 13 winners had already run a minimum of three times that season

TIPS: PROFITABLE (Mecca’s Angel, Pearl Secret)

4.20 St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1) 1m

KEY STAT: 17 of the last 19 winners had finished in the first four in a 2,000 Guineas

TIP: THE GURKHA

5.00 Ascot Stakes Handicap 2m4f

KEY STAT: 12 of the last 13 winners had won a Flat handicap

TIPS: GALIZZI (Eshtiaal)

5.35 Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed) 2yo 5f

KEY STAT: 11 of the last 13 winners had raced two or three times

TIPS: MISTER TRADER (Yulong Baobei)

DAY TWO (WEDNESDAY)

2.30 Jersey Stakes (Group 3) 3yo 7f

KEY STAT: 18 of the last 21 winners had not won a Group race before

TIPS: IBN MALIK (Thikriyaat, Steady Pace)

3.05 Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2) 2yo fillies 5f

KEY STAT: none of the last 14 winners had won a maiden race on their previous start

TIPS: JULE IN THE CROWN (Al Johrah, Kachess)

3.40 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2) fillies and mares 1m

KEY STAT: the race has never been won by a horse carrying a 3lb or 5lb penalty

TIPS: JAZZI TOP (Lucida, Always Smile)

4.20 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1) 10f

KEY STAT: 11 of the last 16 winners had won a Group One race outside the UK or Ireland

TIPS: FOUND (A Shin Hikari)

5.00 Royal Hunt Cup Handicap 1m

KEY STAT: none of the last 11 winners had an official rating higher than 103

TIPS: DONNCHA (Can’t Change It, Man Of Harlech, Convey, Earth Drummer)

5.35 Sandringham Handicap (Listed) 3yo fillies 1m

KEY STAT: eight of the last 13 winners had run in Group or Listed company that season

TIPS: MAKE FAST (Dolce Strega, Persuasive, Diploma)

DAY THREE (THURSDAY)

2.30 Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) 2yo 5f

KEY STAT: nine of the last 13 winners won their previous race by a minimum of two lengths

TIPS: GLOBAL APPLAUSE (Legendary Lunch)

3.05 Tercentenary Stakes (Group 3) 3yo 10f

KEY STAT: 11 of the last 14 winners came from the first four in the market

TIPS: PRIZE MONEY (Hawkbill, Steel Of Madrid)

3.45 Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) 3yo fillies 12f

KEY STAT: the outright favourite has failed to win in 20 of the last 23 runnings

TIPS: WE ARE NINETY (Even Song, Earring)

4.20 Gold Cup (Group 1) 2m4f

KEY STAT: 15 of the last 17 winners had previously won over a minimum of 2m

TIPS: MAX DYNAMITE (Flying Officer)

5.00 Britannia Stakes Handicap 3yo 1m

KEY STAT: 11 of the last 13 winners had previously won or been placed in a handicap

TIPS: DEFROCKED (Manson, Taurean Star, Out And About, Fighting Temeraire)

5.35 King George V Stakes Handicap 3yo 12f

KEY STAT: ten of the last 13 winners carried between 8-7 and 9-1

TIPS: DAL HARRAILD (Sagely, Primitivo)

DAY FOUR (FRIDAY)

2.30 Albany Stakes (Group 3) 2yo fillies 6f

KEY STAT: 12 of the last 13 winners came from a double-figure draw

TIPS: SOMEBODY TO LOVE (Queen Kindly, Create A Dream)

3.05 King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) 3yo 12f

KEY STAT: 19 of the last 21 winners had not run in a Derby

TIPS: LINGUISTIC (Choreographer, Abdon)

3.45 Commonwealth Cup (Group 1) 3yo 6f

KEY STAT: none

TIPS: QUIET REFLECTION (Taneen, Donjuan Triumphant)

4.20 Coronation Stakes (Group) 3yo fillies 1m

KEY STAT: 22 of the last 26 winners had run in a European 1,000 Guineas

TIPS: QEMAH (Ballydoyle, Nathra)

5.00 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes Handicap 12f

KEY STAT: the last 13 winners were aged four or five

TIPS: FABRICATE (Duretto)

5.35 Queen’s Vase (Listed) 3yo 2m

KEY STAT: 14 of the last 15 winners did not run in a maiden on their previous start

TIPS: ORMITO (Ebediyn)

DAY FIVE (SATURDAY)

2.30 Chesham Stakes (Listed) 2yo 7f

KEY STAT: the sire of 12 of the last 13 winners had a minimum stamina-index of 8.7f

TIPS: CUNCO (Justice Frederick, Churchill)

3.05 Wolferton Handicap (Listed) 10f

KEY STAT: 11 of the last 13 winners were beaten on their previous start

TIPS: PACIFY (Erik The Red, Oceanographer, Intimation)

3.45 Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2) 12f

KEY STAT: the last 13 winners had previously won a Group race

TIPS: BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE (Exosphere)

4.20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group 1) 6f

KEY STAT: 16 of the last 19 favourites of the race have been beaten

TIPS: SUEDOIS (The Tin Man, Magical Memory)

5.00 Wokingham Handicap 6f

KEY STAT: 12 of the last 13 winners had an official rating of between 95 and 106

TIPS: BRANDO (Ridge Ranger, George Bowen, Golden Steps, Spring Loaded)

5.35 Queen Alexandra Stakes 2m6f

KEY STAT: 11 of the last 13 winners were drawn nine or higher

TIPS: SUEGIOO (Magic Circle, Nakeeta)