Andrew Hawkins’ Royal Ascot Preview: Day 4

Race 1

The two-year-olds have been tough to follow this week, making a mockery of my pre-Royal Ascot prediction that the form looked solid and easy to follow. At the time of writing on Thursday afternoon, the juvenile winners had paid 80/1 (Rashabar, who led home two 40/1 shots and a 50/1 roughie), 22/1 (Leovanni, one of two 22/1 chances in the top four with the other two both at 50/1) and a comparatively measly 5/1 (Ain’t Nobody, but the first four still paid well with 16/1, 28/1 and 100/1 shots second, third and fourth). No favourite had finished closer than 11th. Hopefully that changed with Whistlejacket in the Norfolk but, if not, it could lead to a dire outlook for the G3 Albany Stakes. This 1200m event for the fillies is usually won by a horse near the head of the market, with only one winner longer than 20/1 since the race was first run in 2002. On paper, it looks a battle between FAIRY GODMOTHER – who won the same Group 3 race at Naas that was won by the last two winners of the race, Meditate and Porta Fortuna – and MOUNTAIN BREEZE, who has won so easily at Newmarket at her first two starts. However, it might be worth taking a chance with LIBERALISED, a winner of a Hamilton maiden from her only start. Her mother Savannah’s Dream was placed in the Windsor Castle in 2016 and Liberalised looks a superior juvenile. She’s worth taking on top of the two favourites who are both leading chances. American raider BURNING PINE might just find the extended trip beyond her but she’s likely to be in front for a long way.

Numbers: 10-5-11-1

Suggested Bet: Liberalised EACH WAY

Race 2

The G1 Commonwealth Cup for the three-year-old sprinters over the straight six (1200m) is being run for the 10th time this year, but already it has produced a number of top speedsters. Precocious types who were so good at two like Caravaggio and Campanelle meet those who are improving rapidly such as Muhaarar, Quiet Reflection, Advertise and Shaquille. Australian Group 1 performers like Jungle Cat, Home Of The Brave and Laws Of Indices were all among beaten runners in this race, as well as current promising stallions Harry Angel, Blue Point and Hello Youmzain. The Sheikh Obaid colours carried most prominently in Australia by Without A Fight are likely to secure further success here to go with the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes victory of Rosallion. He has two very strong candidates in ELITE STATUS, winner of the Listed Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury at his first run at three, and INISHERIN, so good at his first go at sprinting when racing clear to win the G2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock. The market seems to suggest that Inisherin is the one and there is no doubt the Sandy Lane was the stronger race, but personally, I’d prefer to be with Elite Status. Loved the way he quickened and think he is as good a chance as his ownermate. The two Sheikh Obaid horses are ahead of STARLUST, who gets blinkers for the first time and who should relish the firm track, and the honest GIVEMETHEBEATBOYS.

Numbers: 1-4-13-3

Suggested Bet: Elite Status WIN

Race 3

The second of today’s two G1s is the Coronation Stakes for the three-year-old fillies over the round mile course. Unlike the male equivalent on Tuesday, the Irish 1000 Guineas winner Fallen Angel is missing this clash with her English and French counterparts due to a setback. Still, English 1000 Guineas winner ELMALKA and Poule d’Essai des Pouliches heroine ROUHIYA clash here while early favourite OPERA SINGER and blueblood SKELLET represent the Curragh race. That’s four of the nine runners already mentioned, but I’m looking a different way and to RAMATUELLE. It hasn’t quite been the week the French expected, at least not yet, but Christopher Head – who saw former stable stars like Big Rock and Blue Rose Cen step out for others during the week – can land this prize for Team France. She was unlucky in the English 1000 Guineas behind Elmalka and this looks the ideal spot for redemption. She gets Oisin Murphy for the first time and while it might not be ideal given Aurelien Lemaitre has ridden her at every start, she is getting perhaps the most in-form jockey of the week too – his three wins on Asfoora, Running Lion and Wild Tiger stand out but he has also hit the board on five occasions from 16 rides so his eye is certainly in. They can turn the tables on Elmalka, who still looks unexposed and could take another step forward here. Opera Singer will take plenty of improvement from her belated first-up run and a repeat of her effort in the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac late last season will see her go close. Next best is another from the English 1000 Guineas, runner-up PORTA FORTUNA, who may eventually be even better back sprinting.

Numbers: 7-3-5-6

Suggested Bet: Ramatuelle WIN

Race 4

The Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes over 2400m is one of the older staying handicaps on the card, with a history under its previous name – the Bessborough Stakes – dating back to 1922 (and from 1914 to 1921, it was run for two-year-olds over 1000m!). Winners of this race to come to Australia include Fox Hunt, Opinion, Arab Dawn, Kinema and Okita Soushi, while the last decade has also seen Australian Group 1 winners like Just Fine and Durston among the beaten runners as well as Australia’s champion jumper Saunter Boy. It seems extraordinary that CRYSTAL BLACK is only stepping up to a mile and a half now, at his 18th start no less, given his pedigree. By Teofilo, who has three Melbourne Cup winners among his 24 sons and daughters successful at G1 level, his dam She’s Our Mark was a Group 3 winner at 2400m. He’s racing in great heart currently and while he might be getting up in the ratings, he’s worth chancing here. DEAKIN was beaten a neck by Crystal Black fresh at the Curragh. He does get a two-pound turnaround at the weights and he has been touted as a potential Melbourne Cup horse by OTI Racing. He’d want to be competitive here if that’s the case. SHADOW DANCE is a first-time gelding who is unexposed and looks set for a triple-figure rating before too long, while FAIRBANKS can’t be completely ruled out either.

Numbers: 3-9-15-14

Suggested Bet: Crystal Black EACH WAY

Race 5

The Sandringham Stakes, a handicap over the straight mile for the three-year-old fillies, is arguably the most interesting race from an Australian perspective aside from Tuesday’s King Charles III Stakes won by Asfoora. It will feature a horse who will be seen in Australia later this year, KITTY ROSE, and will actually run for Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr. It has been “Junior” – Kent – who has been in the UK preparing her for Friday’s race and if she wins, it will go down as an Australian victory even though she is yet to step foot down under. She is definitely a chance at the head of the weights, and a winner of this race has gone on to Australian G1 success before – 2017 victor Con Te Partiro. However, she’s got a task at the weights with no horse before carrying more than 9st 8lb (60.78kg) to win and Kitty Rose having 9st 9lb (61.24kg). It’s not impossible but it’s certainly a task. Instead, look to another Australian connection and Sydney jockey Rachel King. She rides STRUTTING for Yulong, a Frankel filly stepping back in trip after a fair fourth at Listed level over 2000m last time out. The winner of that race, Lava Stream, was just beaten in the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes on Thursday. Rachel’s first Royal Ascot ride didn’t go to plan when she was beaten 47 lengths but this filly will likely run a big race with only 8st 2lb (51.71kg) to carry. Favourite INDELIBLE is the main danger and looks a filly bound for big races very quickly. She is so well treated in this race and it looks another stepping stone to bigger and better things. Kitty Rose must be included in all exotics, while FOREVER BLUE is not without claims either.

Numbers: 27-17-1-6

Suggested Bet: Strutting EACH WAY

Race 6

The G2 King Edward VII Stakes over a mile and a half for the three-year-old colts and geldings is often considered the Ascot Derby. Unlike the Epsom Derby, geldings can run here while Ascot is conventionally a more straightforward track than the quirky Epsom. It was 10 years ago that Adelaide was beaten in this race at a short price at what would be his only UK start; he would go on to win in the US before heading to Australia to capture the Cox Plate. It is a horse in the same colours, DIEGO VELAZQUEZ, who can take the prize this year. The son of Frankel, a three-quarter brother to the well-performed Broome and Point Lonsdale, was secured for AUD$4.79m as a yearling. He looked a potential star at his first two starts but he has disappointed at his last three efforts, all at G1 level and all on soft tracks. Back on top of the ground and up to 2400m, he is the one to beat. THEORY OF TIDES, a son of Australian G1 placegetter Missrock (making him a close relation to Passive Aggressive and Mrs Onassis), is arguably the most intriguing horse in here. He’s coming off a novice win at Yarmouth but the way in which he quickened suggests that he may be up to this level. Pay close attention to him. AGENDA looks to be improving all the time and is sure to have plenty of admirers while SPACE LEGEND, who was raced by Celestial Legend owner Bon Ho until this week, looks a colt with immense promise.

Numbers: 5-12-1-10

Suggested Bet: Diego Velazquez WIN

Race 7

Day 4 closes with the Palace of Holyrood House Stakes, a handicap for three-year-olds over the 1000m. Have to admit that this looks a lottery whichever way you dice it. JUBILEE WALK is looking for his fourth consecutive victory and, given the way he sprinted over five furlongs last time out, he looks to have more in store at the minimum trip. He goes on top of VANTHEMAN, who was second to Jubilee Walk at York last start. He does find himself five pounds better off at the weights but Jubilee Walk does look to have more upside. Still, he is the main threat. DYRHOLAEY has won all three starts for trainer Archie Watson, who won this race last year with Rhythm N Hooves. He’s a very similar type and can’t be ignored at his turf debut. Next best is MUKAAFAH, another who should enjoy getting back in trip to 1000m. It is that sort of race, though, where you could put up 27 selections and still miss the winner. Good luck!

Numbers: 6-27-20-15

Suggested Bet: Jubilee Walk WIN

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