On to the Friday action at Royal Ascot and a card that has some of the most exciting prospects of the week lining-up to race.
The highlight of yesterday was obviously the Gold Cup with a thrilling finish in the big race. Big Orange joins Highland Reel as the most popular winner of the week; like I said before, it’s difficult for the public to form these connections with flat horses as so many of the best are off and retired to stud before we’ve had a chance to build any relationship with them. I thought he was beaten when Order Of St George came to challenge but the way he responded to just hold on means it will go down as one of the great Gold Cup performances of recent years.
With time being a luxury today I will jump straight into the action for day four.
2:30 Albany Stakes (Group 3) 6f
This could be one of the most exciting races of the week with three heavily hyped horses in the running in Alpha Centauri, Fairyland and Clemmie. I could easily see any of those winning, with Clemmie perhaps having most to prove at present and Alpha Centauri offering the greatest story if bagging a win for the Jessie Harrington stable. I am going with FAIRYLAND though, for many of the reasons I have followed the Wesley Ward horses all week and the additional interest of Coolmore having bought into her, which must be a positive sign.
3:05 King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f
The wins of Benbatl and Coronet proved that the extra time between the Classics and Royal Ascot may have been beneficial in giving additional recovery time from such tough races, perhaps removing some natural concerns we’d have of contenders in the line-up here. That would definitely make the likes of Best Solution and Salouen more interesting, however, I am siding with one who didn’t line-up for the Derby. CRYSTAL OCEAN was hyped in the lead-up to the Derby and although that was definitely more of a bookies PR story than actual reality, he has looked like a horse of promise and the more patient approach of Sir Michael Stoute can pay off here. He should appreciate the step-up in trip and prefer conditions than those faced in the Dante. As one of the more unexposed in the line-up I’m taking him to be better than we’ve seen.
3:40 Commonwealth Cup (Group 1) 6f
There has been debate around the reasons and validity of adding this race to the meeting but when there is a field like the one lining up here the reasoning looks sound enough to me. This looks a top class line-up and although Harry Angel, Blue Point and others all have their claims, I am going to side with CARAVAGGIO. The O’Brien colt has been brilliant so far and any concerns over whether he has trained on seemed to be calmed after his impressive return. Scat Daddy has had a brilliant week as a sire at Ascot this week and I expect that continue with Caravaggio looking to be a class above the rest.
4:20 Coronation Stakes (Group 1) 1m
I’m not sure if there is much point in going into much detail here, as WINTER surely wins. With the defeat of Churchill on the opening day, although I don’t think that was true reflection of his ability, she can assert herself as the best miler of this year’s classic crop.
5:00 Queens Vase (Group 2) 1m6f
Having been reduced in distance this year, the race perhaps takes on a different complexion than usual as it becomes less of a test for out and out stayers, although you’ll still obviously need stamina in the tank to figure. This looks a very tough race to crack with a number having potential but I am cautiously going for WISCONSIN who is impeccably bred (Deep Impact x Peeping Fawn) and looked to improve for a step up last time and can improve further. He might be the O’Brien second string on jockey bookings but I wouldn’t let that put you off as he has previously won this with apparent second selections. As an alternative I may also take another chance on Stradivarius who looked like he needed more of a test last time.
5:35 Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (Hcap Class 2) 1m4f
A real tough handicap to call in which I have no real standout preference at this point so I might go with MAINSTREAM to bring home the annual Royal winner. His third place finish behind Frontiersman looks even better now given how that one performed in the Coronation Cup, so it’s quite possible that he is still on an exploitable handicap mark.
2:30 Fairyland @ 8/1 (Paddy Power)
3:05 Crystal Ocean @ 9/4 (Various)
3:40 Caravaggio @ 10/11 (Betfair)
4:20 Winter @ 1/2 (Bet365)
5:00 Wisconsin @ 11/1 (Stan James) & Stradivarius @ 8/1 (Ladbrokes)
5:35 Mainstream @ 5/1 (SkyBet)