We quickly reach day four of what has been an exhilarating week at Royal Ascot, with two more Group 1 races to focus on.
Five of our seven races today concern only the three-year-olds, meaning form that is still settling down despite what some of them have achieved.
We begin with even younger horses as the two-year-old fillies battle it out in the Albany over six furlongs.
2.30 Ascot (Albany Stakes – Group 3) – JABAARA
A nice way to start. This race is wide open according to the betting as we are looking sure to be going around 4/1 the field come post time.
Simon & Ed Crisford’s Carla’s Way would be a genuine favourite if she holds on to her overnight spot at the head of the market. Her debut run three weeks ago was very taking as she made light work of her maiden fillies field at Doncaster.
James Doyle is on board and it would be nice to see him winning on the big stage, though he may have his work cut out to hold off Roger Varian’s Jabaara.
I was really impressed with her winning debut 34 days ago at Newmarket. She was very well backed that day but got into trouble and looked like getting no sort of run. She got herself out, showed a tremendous turn of foot and got the job done. She might just be the classiest filly in this race. Soprano and Navassa Island are also interesting.
3.05 Ascot (Commonwealth Cup – Group 1) – NOBLE STYLE
The first of two Group 1’s, this time over six furlongs and the market is being dominated by Little Big Bear which is hardly a surprise.
He demolished a good field in Ireland last summer and was given an extraordinary rating for a juvenile of 124. He didn’t stay in the 2000 Guineas, much like the reopposing Sakheer and Noble Style, but won comfortably enough at Haydock last time.
Albeit we could say his Haydock win was just a prep, but he was filly fit from the Guineas and he did not run to last year’s level. One could argue that his big run which gave him 124 was a real one-off, yet he remains at that level while others have officially slipped which may give punters the wrong impression. He’s very good, but he’s too short and is worth taking on.
Noble Style achieved so much on debut and in the Gimcrack last year. He was electric at York. He didn’t stay in the Guineas and was disappointing behind Shaquille last time in a lesser race.
He was the only horse not to race up with the pace at Newbury however and stayed on to be beaten three lengths. He had ran what turns out to have been the right way, he’d have won that in my opinion and he would be threatening the favourite in the market. As it is, he’s around 12/1.
It’s interesting to know that Charlie Appleby could have sent him to the Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs on Saturday.
He has decided he belongs at Group 1 level over the stiff six, despite having the underestimated Grade 1 winner Mischief Magic here and he is worth chancing in his new headgear. William Buick rides Mischief Magic, but Noble Style carries the first Godolphin colours.
Sakheer is a very classy horse indeed and can go well, while Lezoo can’t be taken for granted along with Shaquille.
3.40 Ascot (Duke of Edinburgh Stakes – Handicap) – AL NAFIR
This is always a tough 1½-mile handicap. Teumessias Fox won well last time but had been prepped for the race, while Aimeric can do better along with his returning stablemate Nagano.
The one to side with however could be Al Nafir. Charlie Appleby’s runner was improving nicely throughout last season. His season culminated with a fine win over some quality animals at Newmarket and he’ll have improved plenty in the 259 days since we last saw him.
4.20 Ascot (Coronation Stakes – Group 1) – MEDITATE
Our second Group 1 is the mile race for the three-year-old fillies. With Mawj suffering a setback, her 1000 Guineas rival and Irish Guineas winner Tahiyra now dominates the market at odds on.
If she runs to her best – she is rated 118 – then she will of course be hard to beat. It’s strange though that she reached that level very quickly, running close to that on her second career start then remaining there for two more Group 1 runs.
There have been no major steps forward (yet) and something could get to her level as the season progresses. Given then that we should not be concerned with winning strike-rates but only overall profit, at these odds it’s worth taking her on.
Aidan O’Brien’s Mediate was behind Tahiyra in two Guineas’. But, on lightning-fast ground at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup she ran to a mark of 114. Now that she has proper fast conditions again, natural improvement would take her right up towards Tahiyra’s level and 8/13 versus 5/1 provides us with the opportunity we’re looking for.
5.00 Ascot (Sandringham Stakes – Handicap) – COPPICE
In the last two runnings of the Sandringham we’ve seen the classy, potential Pattern fillies come to the fore and that could be the case once again.
All the better horses are drawn high, which is also where the quicker ground is. Among them are Dream Of Love who has a big one in her, Jackie Oh and especially Coppice who looks very well treated indeed and could be heading to Group company.
5.35 Ascot (King Edward VII Stakes – Group 2) – KING OF STEEL
All we have to go on here is the most recent Derby form really, with King Of Steel being the obvious standout horse in the race after his Classic second behind Auguste Rodin.
Arrest most likely won’t like the ground and there may be nothing coming out of the pack.
6.10 Ascot (Palace of Holyrood House Stakes – Handicap) – FRANKNESS
We finish with a five-furlong sprint, one in which Andrew Balding’s Frankness could be overpriced to give the yard another Royal Ascot winner. Harry Davies takes the ride on the recent Goodwood winner.