On paper this looks to be an above average renewal of this Group Three contest with a number of fillies putting their unbeaten records on the line. One that doesn’t fit that description is Clemmie who finished a close third on her only start to date in a maiden at the Curragh. She is expected to come on a bundle for that experience and has exactly the same profile as her full Brother, none other than Churchill, who won the Chesham on his second start after finishing third on debut in a Curragh maiden. She also seems to have got Ryan Moore’s verdict over Fairyland, an unbeaten Coolmore-owned filly who is trained in the States by Wesley Ward. He’s already had two winners this week and although it’s hard to know what she beat in her only start to date, she did it impressively enough to warrant the utmost respect here. Ertiyad, Natural and Take Me With You would all be much shorter odds in previous renewals and all represent each way chances but ALPHA CENTAURI looks the one they all have to beat. She looked in a different league to her rivals in a Listed contest last time out and is reported to weigh the same as some of her trainer’s National Hunt horses. She is fancied to give Jessica Harrington a first Royal Ascot winner and cap a memorable year for the County Kildare handler.
This is a race that Sir Michael Stoute loves to win having claimed the Group Two prize on no less than seven occasions, including last year with Across The Stars. He relies on the sole runner this year with CRYSTAL OCEAN seemingly having been laid out for a tilt at this contest. He is impeccably bred and looked to be crying out for this step up in trip when just getting tapped for toe at a crucial stage in the Dante. He finished a staying on third that day behind Permian, who disappointed in the Derby and reopposes here, and Benbatl, who won the Hampton Court Stakes here yesterday. The form has a rock solid look to it and with further improvement likely, he is fancied to give Sir Michael that elusive, record-breaking 76th Royal Ascot winner. Of the others who ran in the Derby, Best Solution may have paid the price for being close to such a ferocious gallop whilst Salouen got a nightmare passage and would have finished much closer than 13th if granted a clear run. Sir John Lavery’s run in the Lingfield Derby Trial was too bad to be true and if he is as good as his reputation he’d have to go close whilst Best of Days missed the derby through injury and may find this too hot for a comeback run.
The most recent edition to the Royal Ascot program and few would argue it’s been nothing but a triumphant success. This year’s renewal looks the best yet with some of the most exciting horses in training set to go to post. Harry Angel is held in the highest regard by his trainer Clive Cox who is a master with this type of horse. He finished behind one of today’s rivals Blue Point on his seasonal reappearance in the Pavilion Stakes over course and distance, but it was well documented that he would need that run and his subsequent performance in the Sandy Lane at Haydock, where he smashed the track record, was a scintillating display. He is expected to reverse earlier form with Blue Point whilst Bound For Nowhere has reportedly been out-working Tuesday’s emphatic King’s Stand winner Lady Aurelia on the gallops and is sure to make a bold bid. But the reality is they may all be vying for the places as CARAVAGGIO looks to have the potential to be a superstar sprinter. The whispers coming from Ballydoyle are that he is the fastest horse they have ever had – that means faster than their brilliant Nunthorpe winner Mozart – and although Coolmore hype-horses have disappointed in the past, this son of Scat Daddy has looked a world beater in winning all five of his starts to date. The turn of foot he showed here last year when winning the Coventry was as good a two-year-old performance as I have seen and it will take a monster to beat him in what looks to be the race of the meeting.
Only seven fillies go to post for this Group One contest over a mile and it’s quite possible that the declaration of WINTER has scared the opposition away. She has looked imperious in winning both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas on completely different ground conditions and it’s difficult to see anything being good enough to topple her here. However, the declaration of Winter did not prevent connections of surprise French 1000 Guineas heroine Precieuse supplementing her for this race. She was given a textbook cool-as-a-cucumber ride by Olivier Peslier to win that day and there is a niggling doubt that she won’t be as effective on this quicker surface. Dabyah missed her date with destiny in the French Guineas due to a temperature, but her earlier success in the Fred Darling at Newbury was impressive and she could prove to be a formidable opponent for the selection provided she stays this extra furlong. La Coronel has some of the best form over a mile in the States but it’s hard to know what that really equates to whilst the others have a mountain to climb on all known form if they’re to figure in this.
It was somewhat of a surprise to see Ryan Moore opt for Belgravia over the beautifully bred Wisconsin but the latter didn’t exactly set the world alight when winning a weak looking maiden last time out. Regardless, both look to be in with a chance of capping a superb day for Ballydoyle, though a chance is taken on the well-bred FIERCE IMPACT to spoil the party at a big price. He looked a big raw three-year-old on his comeback run where he appeared to be in desperate need of the run and he duly stepped up on that performance next time out when a staying on second in a Listed contest at Goodwood. This step up in trip will be right up his alley and with more improvement likely he gets a tentative vote in a wide open contest. Time to study gave weight to a subsequent winner last time and represents a trainer who has enjoyed a lot of success in this contest so has to respected whilst Count Octave looks to be another who will appreciate this step up in trip and is not without a chance. Haripour needs to step up on what he has shown to date but Dermot Weld wouldn’t be bringing him over for the sake of it and for that reason he has to go on the shortlist.
Another wide open handicap to conclude proceedings on day four and Her Majesty looks to have an outstanding chance of getting on the scoresheet with Mainstream. He had his first start since being gelded last month at Newmarket where he stayed on eye-catchingly behind today’s rival Top Tug and the classy Frontiersman. That is solid form and the combination of a run under his belt and a 5lb pull at the weights should be enough to see him reverse the form with Top Tug. Roger Varian looks to have a strong hand and saddles three, with Appeared the pick of Andrea Atzeni. He trounced a decent looking field round here last time out and another bold bid is forecast. Another Varian runner WADIGOR is three from three and looks to have been laid out for this race. His Group Two entry later in the year is of particular interest and he will have to win this if he is to take up that lofty engagement. Star Strom is a Group Three course and distance winner and looked to be back to form last time out so has to be respected whilst Mistiroc, Shabeeb and Sixties Grove all have solid each way claims in what looks to be a highly competitive affair.