Royal Ascot, which dates back to 1711, is one of the best known horse race meetings in the world. This year’s meeting kicks off on 14th June 2011. Why not place your Royal Ascot bets using Paddy Power‘s money? Read on for our Royal Ascot preview, plus details of a free £50 bet.

Paddy Power are giving all new accounts as much as £50, simply for opening an account and placing a bet. Why not take advantage of this offer by placing your Royal Ascot bets with Ireland’s most popular bookmaker? Not sure what to bet on? The guide to Royal Ascot 2011 will hopefully give you a few ideas.

The Royal Ascot meeting was first held in 1711, when Queen Anne purchased some land close to Windsor, with the intention of holding horse racing meetings there. By August of that year, the first race meetings were being held and by 1768, the popular Royal meeting had expanded to a full four days worth of horse racing.

Royal Ascot 2011 – Day 1 Preview
(All odds correct at time of publication)

The opening day of the Royal Ascot meeting is easily the best in terms of racing quality, with no fewer than three Group 1 races, backed up by a Group 2 and a Listed Race.

Race 1 – The Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1)
The Queen Anne is open to horses of either gender, aged four years or older and is run over a distance of one mile. The history of the race dates back to 1840 and last year’s winner was one of the best mares seen in recent horse racing history, Goldikova.

Goldikova has already racked up thirteen Group 1 wins in an illustrious career, and at this stage, it seems likely that she will return to Royal Ascot for the 2011 meeting, to defend her Queen Anne title.

Goldikova is currently available to back at a best price of 2.38 (William Hill) for this year’s Queen Anne, but she is not the favourite. That honour goes to Canford Cliffs, whose best price for Queen Anne victory is currently 2.25 (Paddy Power). Canford Cliffs is currently on a run of four straight Group One victories, the most recent of which was an impressive effort in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

Of the remaining Queen Anne entrants, recent Tattersalls Gold Cup winner So You Think (best price 21.00, Betfair) and former Irish Derby champion Cape Blanco (13.50, Betfair) look to have the best chance of tasting Queen Anne success, but it’s a brave punter that takes on Canford Cliffs and Goldikova.

A big trend to emerge from Queen Anne winning horses concerns the odds on the day of the race. The vast majority of winners in recent years have been priced at 8.00 or lower and winners generally come from the top three or four horses in the betting. The Queen Anne isn’t the race to be hunting for a 100/1 shot. verdict: Goldikova to win

Race 2 – The King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1)
The second race on the Royal Ascot card is a flat out five furlong sprint, which features some of the best sprint horses from all over the world. The race is open to race horses of either sex, aged three years or older and it was first run back in 1860.

The ever popular horse Borderlescott looks unlikely to run after picking up a recent injury, which is something of a shame for racing fans, but Temple Stakes winner Sole Power (9.00, Bet365) looks set to run in this year’s King’s Stand, along with the Australian Star Witness (8.00, Paddy Power) and Kingsgate Native (13.00, William Hill) amongst others in what looks a wide open race.

One key trend to look out for when picking out your King’s Stand bet, is form over six furlongs. Although the race is only run over five furlongs, the Ascot track is a stiff one, so staying power is important. Nine of the last ten King’s Stand winners had won over six furlongs at least once in their career, prior to their Royal Ascot victory.

Another factor to consider is race sharpness, as nine of the last ten King’s Stand winners had run at least twice before their Royal Ascot win. This is such an important consideration when dealing with sprinters, and it is certainly the case at this level. verdict: Sole Power to win

Race 3 – The St. James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1)
The third event on Royal Ascot’s opening day, is another Group 1 race run over a mile, but this time it is for three year old colts only. The race was created in 1834 and was won last year by Canford Cliffs.

Runaway 2,000 Guineas winnerFrankel (best price 1.32, Betfair) looks almost certain to line up in this year’s St. James’s Palace Stakes and if the ground is on the softer side, he could well be joined by Dream Ahead (22.00, Betfair) who finished joint top of the two year old rankings alongside Frankel.

Some key points to consider when looking for the winner of the St. James’s Palace Stakes, are two year old form, plus Guineas form. Eight of the last ten winners had won a Group 1 or 2 race as a two year old, while six of the last ten had won the 2,000 Guineas or the French and Irish equivalents.

It’s highly likely that Frankel is going to win this race, as he is clearly a superstar in the making, but if you prefer something of a long shot bet it could be worth considering Roderic O’Connor, who won the Irish 2,000 Guineas and also won a Group 1 race as a two year old. The Aidan O’Brien trained horse is currently priced at 50.00 on Betfair. verdict: Frankel to win.

The three remaining races on Royal Ascot’s opening day are The Coventry Stakes (Group 2), The Ascot Stakes (Class 2 Handicap) and The Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed Race).

Whether you’re betting or simply watching the top class horse racing, be sure to enjoy Royal Ascot 2011!