ROYAL ASCOT DAY 4 (FRIDAY)
The Group Three Albany Stakes over 7f looks a highly competitive renewal this year with most of the most powerful connections in the sport being represented here, but the strongest contender looks to come from the all conquering Irish star trainer Jessica Harrington’s yard. The impressive unbeaten filly Alpha Centauri could not have been more decisive when romping to her latest success at Naas last time out. The commanding nature of that performance couple with her vast potential for improvement makes her an irresistible selection here and she looks one of the bets of the day.
Dangers are a plenty in such an unexposed field filled with runners from some powerful yards. The principal of these could be the American raider and Wesley Ward trained Fairyland who is also unbeaten and she looks the most likely to pounce should the selection fail to fire given the yard already have a couple of winners on the board already.
ALPHA CENTAURI (WIN) – NAP
The Epsom Derby turned out to be one step too far for the Mark Johnston trained Permian, but the classy three year old could bounce back to form on this flatter track after not looking to appreciate the undulations of Epsom. In-form jockey Adam Kirby takes over in the saddle and his confidence will be sky high given he has already had an excellent week. The Teofilo colt has rock solid form based on his prior wins in both Listed and Group company culminating in an impressive win in the Dante Stakes. He was eased when beaten in the Derby so best to ignore that run and if doing so he looks a cracking each way bet so gets the nod.
Goldolphin’s Best Solution finished ahead of the selection in the Derby, but may struggle to confirm the form here, but Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean looks to be the biggest danger to the selection after making the frame in all three of his starts so far and he is completely unexposed.
The 2017 renewal of the Commonwealth Cup looks like being one of the most exciting to date. The Aiden O’Brien trained Caravaggio has been all the rage in the build up after his exciting two year old campaign and he won his reappearance in taking fashion to extend his unbeaten record to five wins out of five. Unfortunately, his price reflects his chances and he looks short enough in the betting. The Clive Cox trained Harry Angel was purchased by Godolphin ahead of this crack at Group 1 level for the first time for the unexposed colt who has yet to be out of the first two places in his four runs, and he looks poised to run his race, but it another contender for the boys in blue who looks like the obvious each way play here today. The horse in question is the Charlie Appleby trained Blue Point. The trainer rates the horse as one of the best sprinters he has ever had and his defeat of Harry Angel in a comfortable manner on his reappearance only strengthens his case after a terrific two year old campaign himself. He was third to Churchill in the Dewhurst over 7f and looks a rock solid contender to trouble the favourite here so gets the each way pick. Of the rest, Wesley Ward’s sprinter are always respected, so it would be no surprise to see Bound for Nowhere get involved.
BLUE POINT (E/W)
Aiden O’Brien’s supertsar filly Winter come here with every chance of adding further Group 1 success in the Coronation Stakes here today. The impressive four lengths plus victory margin as she completed that 1000 guineas double at the Curragh last month saw her price justifiably collapse to odds on and as a result it makes sense to take her on after a hectic few months and look for some each way value in a field of unexposed rivals.
One such rival could be the John Gosden trained Dabyah. The three year old filly has only four runs to her name, with three wins and a third place to her name. It may be significant that her only defeat so far was over today’s trip on her only previous try, but she was only beaten 3/4 of a length that day in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac and that form puts her bang there with a terrific each way shout. She confirmed her well being this term when a decisive winner of the Group 3 Fred Darling and provided she has recovered from her setback that saw her the British, Irish and French equivalents of the 1000 Guineas then she looks the most likely to give the favourite something to think about today.
The Queen’s Vase looks a wide open affair once again with a selection of contenders stepping up to this trip for the first time. The three most dominant trainers in this race over recent years has been Mark Johnston and Aiden O’Brien, so expect each one of them to be prominent again here with a pair of contenders each. Time to Study for the Johnston team has progressed nicely with three wins from five starts and looks like this further step up in trip will be right up his street here today. He looks to be the trainer’s principle chance here with Sylvestre De Sousa booked, but he looks short enough in the betting and could very well go off as favourite.
Aidan O’Brien has won the last two renewals of this and Belgravia is the pick of Ryan Moore. The horse has a nice piece of form when only beaten two lengths by the progressive Naughty Or Nice, and once again he will likely appreciate the step up in trip for his trainer who really specialises in horses at this sort of distance.
A chance is however taken on the Godolphin raider Alqamar. The boys in blue have been in scintillating form this season and have already had a host of winners at the meeting. The horse won nicely on his reappearance when absolutely romping home to win by five lengths in a handicap at York over 1m4f. The Dubawi Colt is completely unexposed at this trip and has some smart form already in the book such as placed efforts behind the likes of Eminent and Sofia’s Rock who have both gone on to win at higher levels. He looks a cracking each way play in a wide open race at an absolutely monstrous looking price.
An exciting renewal of the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes Handicap run over 1m4f in the making here and all eyes will be on Roger Varian’s unbeaten four-year-old Wadigor. The Champs Elysee colt won a class three handicap on his reappearance run at Kempton in decisive fashion after dismantling the opposition in two runs as a three year old last term. He could well be up to defy his penalty here under the assistance of Sylvestre De Sousa to land this one,The only slight doubts would be the first time for the horse in a big field handicap and also that stable jockey Andrea Atzeni plumps to ride Appeared instead. The same horse poses the biggest threat to his stablemate and the five year old gelding confirmed his chances here with a decisive victory in a class handicap on his seasonal reappearance. That form has been franked by a few horses coming out of that race to win so expect this to be a battle between the Varian horses for the prize with the former just getting the each way nod at the bigger price. Of the rest, Hugo Palmer’s Rock of Gibraltar colt, Baydar would have a squeak here if regaining the winning thread following a tremendous 2016 campaign and he will be better for his reappearance run.