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Day four of Royal Ascot begins with the Group 3 Albany Stakes for two-year-old fillies over six furlongs. A high draw has been an advantage on the straight course for the opening two days and this tempers confidence behind Alpha Centauri (2.30) who has drawn stall one.
Trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington this filly would have been one of my bankers of the meeting had it not been for the draw, but the hope is that the overnight watering of the track will make the straight course a level playing field. The selection is 2/1 with BetVictor but that price will drift if Thursday’s card confirms the bias for a high number on the straight course.
Jeremy Noseda’s Take Me With You (stall 20) has been well supported since the draw was made on Wednesday and is 16s from 25/1 but I hope Alpha Centauri’s class can overcome any track bias.
The King Edward VII Stakes is the Ascot Derby and I hope to see the lightly-raced Crystal Ocean (3.05) improve past his Dante Stakes conqueror Permian stepped up to a mile-and-a-half for the first time. Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has won this corresponding race no fewer than seven times including 12 months ago with another son of Sea The Stars (Across The Stars) and the Newmarket handler saved the colt from the rigours of Epsom to concentrate on this Group 2 prize.
The recommendation is 11/4 with BetVictor and that looks about right with money for both Aidan O’Brien’s Sir John Lavery (5/1) and Godolphin’s Best Of Days, who makes his seasonal reappearance, in recent days.
The Group 1 Commonwealth Cup looks like being one of the races of the week with three potential star British and Irish sprinters Caravaggio, Blue Point and Harry Angel (3.40) taken on by the unbeaten American colt Bound For Nowhere where was cut from 12s to 8s at BetVictor following sustained support earlier in the week.
Harry Angel was conceding 4lbs to Blue Point when the latter beat the selection over C&D back in May but the hope is that Clive Cox’s horse will reverse the form at the revised weights having clocked a very fast time when winning at Haydock last month. The selection is 7/2 at BetVictor and jockey Adam Kirby will race in the Blue of Godolphin for the first time given Sheikh Mohammed purchased the sprinter for an undisclosed sum after Haydock.
The unbeaten Caravaggio was an impressive winner of the Coventry Stakes at the corresponding meeting last season and made a sensational return to the track when landing the odds at Naas on his reappearance. He is a worthy favourite but he is a shade of odds on (10/11) with BetVictor and I just favour Harry Angel each way at the odds.
Winter (4.20) has been so impressive in winning both the Newmarket and Irish Guineas’ that she is impossible to oppose in the Coronation Stakes despite the fact that she has been kept very busy so far this term. This will be her fourth start since finishing runner up on her reappearance at Leopardstown back in April but she has improved with each run and is hard to oppose. Hydrangea and Dabyah will ensure there is a true gallop and the only negative, apart from the draw in stall seven, is her prohibitive price at 4/9 with BetVictor.
The first thing to say about the Queen’s Vase is that the race will be run at a trip just shy of 1m 6f for the first time – down two furlongs on previous years. The race has been upgraded from Group 3 to Group 2 and has been reduced in trip to become a “true, quality race for developing stayers.”
Time To Study is the 4/1 market leader at BetVictor for Mark Johnston who has trained the winner of the race on seven previous occasions and goes into the race just one shy of the record currently held by the late, great Sir Henry Cecil. Time To Study must go close with Silvestre de Sousa in the plate from a good draw but I hope to see the famous Aga Khan colours back in the winners’ enclosure courtesy of Haripour (5.00) who improved in first-time blinkers when winning his maiden at Navan earlier in the month. The suggestion is this half-brother to last year’s Derby winner Harzand can reverse previous form with Belgravia and at 8/1 with BetVictor he can reward each way support.
In the finale, I hope Star Storm (5.35) can reward each way support at 16/1 with BetVictor for James Fanshawe who takes off 3lbs with talented apprentice George Wood. The selection invariably runs well at Ascot and he ran a cracker when runner up on his reappearance in a listed contest here last month.
There are any number of potential dangers including Cape Cova, visored for the first time, and Sixties Groove but Star Storm gets the vote in another competitive handicap.
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