The warm weather and the fast ground continue at Royal Ascot, but while we love conditions it has been a wide-open affair this week with many different trainers and jockeys hitting the board.
It may well be Newmarket as a collective that dominates this time, John and Thady Gosden in particular being backed to have a great day.
2.30 Ascot (Albany Stakes – Group 3) – FULLY WET
By my reckoning, the market has got this largely right with Fully Wet, Mawj, Sydneyarms Chelsea, Queen Olly and Meditate all to the fore.
It’s interesting however to note that of those five, three of the big hitters are drawn in single figures. True, the stalls are in the centre and we have an 18-runner race, but the near side is still the place to be for the most part which gives Queen Olly and Fully Wet an advantage.
I like the latter of that pair best. On her debut for the Gosden team she had to overcome a slow start, plenty of greenness and likely unsuitable soft ground but won nicely all the same.
As a daughter of Kodiac she should love conditions this time around and a big improvement from race one to race two looks to be on the cards.
3.05 Ascot (Commonwealth Cup – Group 1) – SLIPSTREAM
It hasn’t gone completely to plan for the American raiders so far, but they may notch a famous Group 1 win here with their Slipstream. He’s very fast, handles firm ground, should stay up the hill and is most progressive.
Of the home team, there are many to note but I fancied things to be close again between El Caballo and Tiber Flow, with Go Bears Go who likes it here being right up there with them.
On a line through Twilight Gleaming, it appears Slipstream may have the beating of Go Bears Go which adds to confidence.
In a very competitive race Perfect Power of course cannot be ruled out, nor can Twilight Jet or Zain Claudette, while Ehraz isn’t for me over this particular six furlongs.
The one to keep on side as an each-way interest is definitely Group 1 runner-up Flotus. She began badly this season but is coming to herself now and has the form to get involved.
3.40 Ascot (Duke of Edinburgh Stakes – Handicap) – TRAWLERMAN
This is another hugely competitive handicap, though there is enough to like about Trawlerman at the odds to merit having a small bet.
The Gosden runner, by Golden Horn out of a Monsun mare, is crying out to go back over this mile-and-a-half trip that he beat King Frankel by 8½ lengths over back in April. That horse went on to run second to Bay Bridge no less and was rated 91.
Trawlerman comes into this on the back of a win over a mile-and-a-quarter on the all-weather and is primed for a massive run. Moktasaab, Candleford and Brilliant Light may also go well.
4.20 Ascot (Coronation Stakes – Group 1) – INSPIRAL
On the face of it at Group 1 level, this is a very tough start for the year for Inspiral after 252 days off.
There is plenty of quality on show, but things look mighty close between no fewer than ten of them which begs the question; are they all that good?
Any one of Prosperous Voyage, Guineas winner Cachet, Breeders’ Cup winner Pizza Bianca, Mangoustine, Spendarella, Discoveries, Grande Dame, Sandrine or Cheveley Park winner Tenebrism could give the selection most to do, but she is the standout and can remain unbeaten.
Wild Beauty was genuinely too good for Pizza Bianca last year in North America, and Inspiral has put that one in her place twice. She was also a very solid favourite for the Guineas ahead of a number of these and is the standout filly over this sort of trip.
5.00 Ascot (Sandringham Stakes – Handicap) – INVIGILATE
This is a tough handicap to bet in, a straight and fast mile, and the selection carries the second-choice colours of Juddmonte behind Crenelle.
Crenelle’s credentials are obvious of course and in fact she was second on my list, but I reckon Sir Michael Stoute didn’t have Invigilate fully revved-up for her seasonal debut when she was second to Washraa who is also on the list.
Invigilate will come on a ton and has the speed to see off those already mentioned, as well as Heredia, Persist and Zanbaq.
5.35 Ascot (King Edward VII Stakes – Group 2) – OTTOMAN FLEET
The 110-rated Changingoftheguard is an obvious type for this and he represents the Derby form.
He was fifth at Epsom in the big one and was a very good winner of the Chester Vase before that, but his best performance was when being allowed to dominate on softer ground and he’s backing up quickly after a tough race.
Lysander may or may not improve significantly for going on quicker ground also, but the improvement in Ottoman Fleet is too impressive to ignore. Charlie Appleby’s twice-raced gelding is by Sea The Stars, and actually shares some of his famous sire’s attributes.
Good on debut, he was most impressive when winning a Listed race at Newmarket last time over a mile-and-a-quarter despite stumbling badly at the start. He showed speed as well as guts that day and will absolutely relish this step up in trip.
6.10 Ascot (Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes – Handicap) – CANONIZED (place or each-way)
We finish with a five-furlong cavalry charge and it’s mightily close to call, so keep stakes low.
Canonized has been very busy in her short career and also very consistent for Chevely Park and trainer William Haggas. These types get better with age though, not just for racing, and she can still outdo the 100 rating she achieved last year.
She’s in here off 98 and has a fair chance at a big price, so take the ¼ odds each-way or back her outright for a place.
The many contenders against her include Loves Me Likearock, Nymphadora and Latin Lover.