A very frustrating day 3 which could have been so much better. There was track bias prevalent again, only this time on the other rail side, which meant the best races of the day were those on the round course. Cardsharp ran a great race for us in the Norfolk but was beaten by Sioux Nation and Santry, whilst Havana Grey seemed to fade when travelling well. Mirage Dancer and Orderofthegarter then finished third and second respectively, denied by Benbatl, before Mori was agonisingly chinned near the line by the strong finishing Coronet. Simple Verse then clearly didn’t stay, but I was enjoying the outstanding front-running performance of Big Orange too much to worry. In the Britannia, all our selections raced on the stands side and all were soundly beaten. Meh. The day finished on a brighter note as Atty Persse became Frankel’s first Royal Ascot winner in scintillating style, returning an SP of 7/1.
So onto day 4, and due to time restrictions it’s necessarily a bit shorter. Apologies for that, normal service will be resumed for Saturday’s finale.
2:30 – Albany Stakes, 6f, Group 3
This fillies race is headed by Alpha Centauri, who at the complete opposite end of the scale to the stable’s star Sizing John is a speedy young filly. She comes here off the back of two consecutive, impressive wins at Naas and she should be hard to beat. Fairyland is owned by Coolmore but trained by Wesley Ward – Donnacha O’Brien takes the ride here but she looks short enough to me. It’s certainly worth backing Alpha Centauri in my opinion, but I’m going to take a chance on CLEMMIE, the superbly-named full sister to Churchill. Like her brother, she came third on debut on Ireland before heading straight to Royal Ascot, and I’m hoping like her brother she can improve enough to win. Black Sails and Natural have both won their sole starts to date; if Princess Peggy runs she may still be mentally scarred by getting run over by a bike on Wednesday.
Selection: CLEMMIE (each way)
3:05 – King Edward VII Stakes, 1m4f, Group 2
It’s hard to see past the favourite CRYSTAL OCEAN here – like his stablemate Mirage Dancer, he looked like he’d run a great Derby trial in the Dante when third to the battle-hardened Permian and Thursday’s impressive winner Benbatl. Again, like his stablemate Sir Michael Stoute thought the Derby would come too soon and Mirage Dancer did little wrong in defeat – I think Crystal Ocean can make similar forward strides and go a couple of places better. Sir John Lavery was dreadful in his Derby trial at Lingfield which was surely too bad to be true – watch market moves on him. Permian will make it a true test, but he didn’t appear to stay the Derby trip, and Salouen was unlucky in the Derby and can go much better here. Best Solution and Best Of Days are both interesting runners for Godolphin – I’d be inclined to go with the latter even though there are obvious risks on his seasonal debut. Khalidi was another who disappointed in the Derby and Call To Mind for HM The Queen will appreciate the step up in trip.
Selection: CRYSTAL OCEAN (win)
3:40 – Commonwealth Cup, 6f, Group 1
There have been many great races at this Royal meeting already, but this is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most and I’m sure it won’t disappoint. First up we have CARAVAGGIO who has apparently touched 45mph on the Ballydoyle gallops. He’s unbeaten in five career starts and had the perfect prep for this. He’s odds on but that’s because he’s just a big brilliant beauty. He’s also by Scat Daddy whose progeny are thriving at Royal Ascot. He has everything in his favour. Harry Angel has career form of 2121 and each of those starts has delivered an improved RPR. Both he and Blue Point, who beat Harry Angel at Ascot in May (albeit in concession of 4lbs from HA), can try and serve it up to Caravaggio to continue a superb week for Godolphin. Bound For Nowhere apparently works well at home in the States with Lady Aurelia – if that is true and he can reproduce that here, he’ll be a huge threat. But hopefully this is a case of sitting back and watching an equine aeroplane.
Selection: CARAVAGGIO (win, double with Winter)
4:20 – Coronation Stakes, 1m, Group 1
This fillies race looks likely to be another one that heads the way of the favouriteWINTER. This classy filly transferred to Aidan O’Brien’s care in the winter and has rewarded her new trainer with a brilliant English / Irish 1000 Guineas double. If she loses here it will be a major surprise. If that surprise does occur, then it will most likely be in the form of Dabyah, who won nicely on her comeback in April and the form of which received a nice boost with Rain Goddess’ performance on Wednesday. Hydrangea beat Winter in April but has since proved no match for her in either Guineas – but Padraig Beggy, her jockey, pulled off a huge shock in these colours in the Derby so she may be of outside interest at a big price.
Selection: WINTER (win, double with Caravaggio)
5:00 – Queen’s Vase, 1m6f, Group 2
I like Belgravia for Aidan O’Brien and Time To Study for Mark Johnston here, but so does the market and so we’ll tentatively leave them out. Instead we’ll go for STRADIVARIUS, who has a very progressive profile (each of his 5 career starts to date has seen an improvement) and he looks like he’ll need and appreciate every yard of this 1m6f challenge. Haripour gives substance to Belgravia’s form, but as an alternative we’ll go for Aidan O’Brien’s second string, the lightly-raced WISCONSIN. Deep Impact is starting to have an impact on the European racing scene as a sire and he looks like a fascinating prospect. Hopefully his inexperience won’t cost him. Mister Manduro was a non-runner on Thursday so if the connections race him here they must have their reasons.
Selection: STRADIVARIUS (each way)
Alternative: WISCONSIN (each way)
5:35 – Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes, 1m4f, Class 2 Handicap
Call me a sentimental softy but I really think MAINSTREAMwill win in HM The Queen’s colours in the race named for her husband who is currently in hospital. Ryan Moore rode this gelding for Sir Michael Stoute at Newmarket last month, behind Frontiersman (who has since finished second behind the great Highland Reel) and Top Tug, form which has substance and he can still progress from there. He’s still a workable price and we’ll take a chance on the win. The other I like is SIXTIES GROOVE, who stayed on well on his reappearance on Oaks Day at Epsom and that looks to have been a prep race for this.
Selection: MAINSTREAM (win)
Alternative: SIXTIES GROOVE (each way)