Who are the horses to watch at this year’s Royal Ascot?

Royal Ascot is one of the most prestigious events in the horse racing calendar, set to return in 2024 with a line-up of extraordinary talent. Here, we’ll spotlight some of the top contenders to watch at Royal Ascot 2024, when of course, on the opening day, you’ll be here enjoying the action over jumps at Stratford.

This five-day festival showcases equestrian excellence but is also a hub for hospitality, and social and cultural events, attracting the attention of racing enthusiasts and casual spectators alike. With numerous races and an international field of runners, it can be challenging to identify which horses are poised for standout performances, we’ll aim to look at some winning contenders as recommended by betting expert Daniel Smith.


Inspiral, a standout mare from the John & Thady Gosden stable, has been turning heads with her powerful performances. Known for her strong finishes and tactical versatility, Inspiral is expected to run in the Queen Anne Stakes for a second year, hoping to go one better than her neck second in 2023. Her previous victories in Group 1 races like the Jacques le Marois, Sun Chariot and Breeders Cup Fillies & Mares the have solidified her reputation as a top-tier competitor. Will jockey Frankie Dettori be summoned back to perform at the stage he excels at? If so, Inspiral’s chances at Royal Ascot look even more promising.


Another notable contender is Luxembourg, a horse with a significant following due to his impressive performances in high-stakes races all over the world. Trained by legend of Coolmore, Aidan O’Brien, Luxembourg has shown remarkable growth and resilience. His entry in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes is highly anticipated to see if he too can go one better, beaten 4l last year by Mostahdaf. Luxembourg’s ability to maintain high speed over long distances and his tactical racing style makes him a strong contender for this prestigious event.

Emily Upjohn

Emily Upjohn, trained by the Gosden team, has captured attention with her remarkable victories and consistent performance. She has demonstrated exceptional talent in middle-distance races and is expected to be a major player in the Hardwicke. Emily Upjohn’s combination of speed, stamina, and strategic racing make her a horse to watch closely at distances of 1m2f+. She holds entries later in the summer in the Coral-Eclipse, Pretty Polly and Irish Champion Stakes.

King of Steel

King of Steel was an emphatic winner of the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot 2023 after nearly upsetting the odds-on Auguste Rodin in the Derby, and followed up in the Qipco Champions Stakes at Ascot in October. Having shown this level of impressive form, he was being aimed at the Prince of Wales’ Stakes until an injury early this month put him on the sidelines. This looks likely to curtail at least this year’s racing record, if not his career at large, so discount him from any selections at this year’s Ascot.


Willie Mullins has become the go-to trainer for international comparison, and Absurde is being tilted again at the Melbourne Cup in the autumn. An unorthodox prep has already included victory in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and he will likely hold other entries in races like the Queen Alexandra alongside stablemate Vauban. Mullins knows what is required to win down under, where Absurde and Vauban represented him last year. He won’t be making the extended trip without good reason, so a good run at Ascot will tell a story.

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