It was a tough start for Frankie Dettori on the opening day of Royal Ascot 2021 but the irrepressible Italian did claim a great win on Place Pier in the opener, his 74th overall at the royal meeting.
The easy victory for the John and Thady Gosden trained Palace Pier got the monkey off Dettori's back and now he'll be hoping to relax into a rhythm of some more winners on day two.
Not that there will be much rest for the veteran jockey with a ride in six heats of the seven race card, after Lord North was removed from the Prince of Wales's Stakes.
Planet Sport assesses the chance of an Italian assault on Ascot before the Azzurri take to the pitch tonight in Euro 2020 against Switzerland.
2.30 Queen Mary Stakes - Artos
The booking of Dettori on the American raider Artos bodes well, with both the jockey and US entrants faring excellently in this five furlong sprint in recent years.
Dettori took the Queen Mary Stakes last year on the Wesley Ward trained Campanelle, while Ward has taken the trophy back to the States for three out of the last six runnings.
Artos' trainer George "Rusty" Arnold ii is no slouch himself having produced the Belmont Oaks winning Concrete Rose.
Ward's favourite Twilight Gleaming presents a real danger but Artos beat a Ward favourite last time out in a firm-ground five furlong sprint at Churchill Downs.
If Dettori can utilise Artos' strong finishing speed then it could be a good chance to rack up a place for Artos.
An each-way bet at odds to 6/1 or more seems a sensible proposition.
Star rating: 3 stars
3.05 Queen's Vase - Stowell
Stowell's silks should seem familiar, being the navy and yellow colours of the Rothchilds whose Nathaniel won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2011.
The John and Thady Gosden/Rothschild connection is clearly a classy one and Stowell won his maiden at Ascot in May, showing a liking for the course.
Stowell kept on well that day and an extra two furlongs will do the colt no harm in this one mile six furlong contest. Much will depend on the horse's ability to step up in trip and Stowell's versatility in switching from good to soft to good to firm ground but it will be no surprise if Dettori runs this nicely bred three year-old into a place or better.
Star rating: 3 stars
3.40 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes - Indie Angel
Indie Angel will need plenty of girl power in this fillies and mares race over a straight mile at Ascot.
Dettori had three of today's runners (Lavender's Blue, Queen Power and Lady Bowthorpe) in front last time out at Newmarket.
But Indie Angel represents top class connections from Cheveley Park Stud, whose fillies often progress with a few prep runs. The addition of a hood could well focus this filly with stamina in the dam's bloodline via Sir Percy and speed in the sire's via Dark Angel who produced Baataash.
Each-way thieves may sniff a price of 12/1 or greater but there are too many unknowns to wager with any real confidence.
Star Rating: 2 stars
5.00 Royal Hunt Cup - Magical Morning
A thirty runner handicap over a mile at Ascot is as tricky a betting heat to predict as you can imagine.
However, Dettori heads into the race on the favourite Magical Morning and with a claim to fame of setting the race record time in 2010 on Invisible Man.
Indeed, Dettori won't want to be too prominent on Magical Morning as the race splits into two packs, steering his mount into a position to press from around two furlongs out.
The heritage laden Royal Hunt Cup, first run in 1843 requires a masterclass of timing, and finish-grabbing horsemanship, Dettori could well be the man for the job. A win bet at 6/1 or more could be a tasty day two treat.
Star rating: 4 stars
5.35 Windsor Castle Stakes - Ruthin
American Ascot sprint-king Wesley Ward has a strong chance of taking the five furlong Windsor Castle Stakes with Ruthin.
Ward has made hay with the Ascot dashes and this Ribchester filly obliterated her rivals in her only start over turf at Keeneland in April.
Wesley Ward won the race in 2014 with Hootenanny and Strike The Tiger in 2009 and Dettori looks to be on the right horse for a rapid run on quick ground at Ascot.
Don't discount Ward's other runner Golden Bell, who could well follow Ruthin home but all eyes look set to be on Dettori.
Star rating: 5 stars
6.10 Kensington Palace Stakes - Mostly
Patchy form may put off prospective punters on Mostly, Dettori's final ride of day two at Royal Ascot.
The Makfi filly won her seasonal debut nicely over the all-weather at Kempton but then finished seventh of eight in a Class One race at Nottingham in April.
This Class Two contest should be within reach of the John and Thady Gosden trained three-year-old, owned by the notable George Strawbridge.
On the whole, off a reasonable mark and with mile stamina in her pedigree, Mostly looks a reasonable each-way bet as long as her odds don't creep below 6/1.
Star rating: 3 stars