WHEN it comes to finding winners at Royal Ascot, the obvious starting point is with trainer Aidan OBrien as he looks to be crowned top trainer at the meeting for a fourth straight year.
The master of Ballydoyle once again arrives in Berkshire with a battalion of stars, including Rhododendron, who heads the betting for the Queen Anne Stakes (2.30pm).
Having finished second in both last years 1000 Guineas and Oaks, the daughter of Galileo got her richly-deserved second Group One victory of her career at Chantilly in the Prix de lOpera last October.
She left a disappointing reappearance run this season well behind her when going on to win the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month.
Once again, the ground was fast that day as she recorded the third Group One win of her career, and its clear to see why Star Sports make her a 5/2 chance to secure a fourth this afternoon.
However, she doesnt represent much value at those odds on her first visit to Ascot, over a trip which is her bare minimum.
Instead, I prefer the chances of her stablemate DEAUVILLE at 16/1 with Paddy Power, who are also paying four places.
The five-year-old finished a gallant third in this race 12 months ago and goes particularly well on fast ground.
He finished fifth behind Rhododendron at Newbury last time, but that run came just days after an aborted trip to America when a late non-runner because of the ground.
With a month under his belt to get over those travel exertions, I expect a better showing here and he can hit the frame at decent odds.
Lightning Spear, second to Rhododendron at Newbury could go well, but I have a feeling he is best fresh as he bombed out in this last season when following an identical path.
Instead, I am also going to have a small each-way bet on Andrew Baldings BEAT THE BANK who finished a long way behind these at Newbury last time.
That definitely wasnt his true running and he was very progressive last term when rattling off five wins from seven outings.
Im expecting him to bounce back here with his stable firing on all cylinders and I like the look of Corals 25/1, though Paddy Power are paying four places at 16/1.
Godolphins Benbatl has to be respected back at a meeting where he won last year, even over a trip plenty short enough for him.
The third and final Group One on this afternoons card is the St Jamess Palace Stakes (4.20pm), where John Gosdens Without Parole is a warm order to keep up his unbeaten record.
Even though the son of Frankel has a huge reputation at home, he made pretty hard work of it in Listed class at Sandown last time and is skinny enough at just 5/2 in a race like this.
English 2000 Guineas runner-up Tip Two Win should go well again, while that man OBrien has chances with both US Navy Flag and Gustav Klimt.
However, I was taken with the way ROMANISED won the Irish 2000 Guineas where he relished the fast ground and step up to a mile.
Having rattled home late in the Coventry Stakes here 12 months ago over an inadequate six furlongs, I ex- pect him to be a big player today at 6/1.
Beat The Bank e/w 2.30pm Royal Ascot
Deauville e/w 2.30pm Royal Ascot
Romanised e/w 4.20pm Royal Ascot