Not the easiest start to day four at Royal Ascot.
With a load of unexposed two year old fillies in contending the Albany Stakes. Alpha Centauri is two from two including a nice Listed win at Naas last time. As such, she’s a warm order for this, but I’m not sure 9/4 is a very appealing price in such a hot race. Snowflakes is a full sister to dual Guineas heroine Winter, so on breeding alone I think she could leave her poor debut effort at the Curragh behind her. Don’t be surprised if she outruns 25/1 odds. However, Ryan Moore favours Clemmie, who was third in the same race as Snowflakes. That was a very promising debut. Both of Wesley Ward’s entries for this, Fairyland and Princess Peggy, are shortlisted after winning debuts. The market suggests Fairyland is the preferred choice and the trainer was quoted saying she is a very good filly after she won at Keeneland. It was a good effort and I will take her to put in a big effort here.
The next is the King Edward VII Stakes. Crystal Ocean is fancied to improve on his third to Permian in the Dante. It’s interesting that Permian is more than double the price though. That can be attributed to a disappointing effort in The Derby, but he could bounce back. Best Of Days won the Royal Lodge last year and 10/1 makes appeal if he’s ready for this. I’m taking a bit of a chance with him as fitness is a big question mark, but he has potential.
In the Commonwealth Cup there are three horses that I’m looking more closely at. Starting with the Godolphin pair of Blue Point and Harry Angel. They faced each other over course and distance in the Pavilion Stakes and Blue Point beat Harry Angel by a length and a half. However, Harry Angel has since improved to win the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock. I think both can be involved here and could make appeal on price terms against the favourite. However, Caravaggio is a bit special. He won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last year, before winning the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. He made a successful reappearance at Naas last month and quite simply he is the one to beat. And I don’t think anything will beat him.
The 4.20 is the Coronation Stakes and the outstanding Winter is odds-on. I could stop there and just say she probably wins. Tomyris and Dabyah remain with potential, but will need a lot of improvement to nab Winter. Precieuse is an insulting price of 12/1. She won the French 1,000 Guineas and should be shorter. If there were eight runners, then each-way punters may be drawn to her but with just seven in the field reducing the each-way terms to just two places, it makes less appeal. I think Winter should win, but from a betting angle, Precieuse in the ‘Without the favourite’ market.
The Queen’s Vase is next on the agenda. Belgravia put in a decent display at Navan last time and given that he is a likely improver, he makes plenty of appeal. They switch up the headgear with him and Ryan Moore has sided with him ahead of Wisconsin. He’s not without a chance too after an easy maiden victory at Tipperary. Haripour really appreciated the application of blinkers when they tried them at Navan, so they stay on here. He’s got three lengths to find with Belgravia from earlier in the season though, so I’ll side with Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien to confirm the form.
The final race of the day is the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes. Soldier In Action is quite big in price. He won well at Epsom, forging on strongly in the closing stages to put the race to bed and although he’s up 6lbs for that victory it’s not completely ruled out that he could follow up. Wadigor has a decent chance if translating all-weather form to turf. He’s a lightly raced four year old who has won all three starts so far and he could be a class above his rivals here. Mainstream will be popular with the crowd at Royal Ascot, in the silks of Her Majesty The Queen. A promising return at Newmarket suggests this could be one of her better chances this week. However, I’ll side with Wadigor.
The Duke’s Picks:
Albany Stakes – Fairyland
King Edward VII Stakes – Best Of Days each-way
Commonwealth Cup – Caravaggio
Coronation Stakes – Winter (+ Precieuse in ‘without fav’ market)
The Queen’s Vase – Belgravia
Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes – Wadigor