Day three returned mixed fortunes with heavy rain downgrading the track to a very soft run, however, we were still able to deliver a few winners – but none were more impressive than Stradivarius who stamped himself as the absolute Alpha Male of global stayers with a 10-length win the Gold Cup to make it three consecutive Cups in a row.
Today on Day 4, it’s a bumper card featuring five Group races including the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup in which will see Lope Y Fernandez – who finished third in the Irish 2000 Guineas face off against Golden Horde who placed runner-up in the in the G1 Middle Park Stakes last season at Newmarket beating out Lope Y Fernandez.
Palace Of Holyroodhouse Handicap
There’s a big name in this race and it is ART POWER for Tim Easterby who hasn’t quite come out the gates like he might’ve hoped to this season. But his charge Art Power is a highlight of his stable and absolutely mesmerised the field at Newcastle upon the return of racing and should be nicely placed with four weeks between runs to have a tilt at this Class Two event. He looms as a Group-winning horse who’ll bode well at handicap level today. WILL TO WIN has won five of his last six starts on the all-weather, and respect must be shown. If you’re looking for value in a large field, DANCIN INTHESTREET is the one to side with. She was unfortunate not to make a winning return when third at Haydock where she also looked well suited by her first attempt at 5f.
WIN: ART POWER
VALUE: DANCIN INTHESTREET
GROUP 3 Albany Stakes (Fillies Only)
Beware, a lot of runners coming into this race haven’t had the ideal prep given the short turnaround between the resumption of racing in the UK and today’s meeting, which is why this event has been shifted to Day 4 of Royal Ascot. Be sure to keep that in mind when assessing this field.
With that in mind, Wes Ward’s US import FLYING ALETHA is afforded plenty of respect, having had a 29-day break after opening her account at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The stablemate of MORE BEAUTIFUL (featuring in the Queen Mary tomorrow), MOTHER EARTH should be considered given anything out of Ballydoyle is usually in the thick of it when the whips are cracking. DANDALLA will be favoured given the barrier she’s drawn and has speed that she put on display at Newcastle earlier in the month. She might appreciate the extra furlong here. For the value hunters, it’s hard to overlook UNDERTAKE who won by 0.5L at Lingfield (AW) at this distance in the Novice stakes. The David Egan and Roger Varian combination won this last season and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if lightening strikes twice.
WIN: FLYING ALETHA
GROUP 2 Norfolk Stakes
If you were watching on at Yarmouth earlier in the month, then you would remember the run of The Lir Jet. It has plenty of pace to burn and is suited to this distance. It’s since been purchased by Qatar Racing to contest this in their silks for Michael Bell and with Oisin Murphy on board, it feels like a good thing. It will face stiff competition from EYE OF HEAVEN who won at Newmarket by 0.75L and was popular in the market then and is popular again today. Mark Johnston has started well with his two-year-olds and could be tough to beat and Frankie Dettori has chosen to ride it. IMPERIAL FORCE chased home a smart prospect trained by Charlie Appleby at Newmarket last time and should build on that, while Wesley Ward has been bullish about GOLDEN PAL in a number of recent stable tours.
WIN: EYE OF HEAVEN
VALUE: THE LIR JET
GROUP 2 Hardwicke Stakes
Last year’s Derby hero ANTHONY VAN DYCK returned with a sensational effort when finishing second to Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket recently, but the four-year-old will need to prove it can handle the quick turnaround in racing and jump from a dry course to a soft track. ELARQAM looks best placed to claim the win. The son of Frankel has shaped for a while as though he could improve for the step up to 1m4f and there may yet be further progression to come with him being lightly raced. Oh, and Jim Crowley is in the driver’s seat, say no more! DEFOE is proven over course and distance including winning this race last season and looms a solid each-way consideration.
GROUP 1 Commonwealth Cup
It’s the big one of the day! GOLDEN HORDE has mixed it with the best juvenile sprinters in the land last season, placing twice behind Earthlight at the highest level, and he appeals as having the scope for further improvement as a three-year-old. I really admired him in this race and he deserved favouritism, but don’t discount LOPE Y FERNANDEZ. The pair have already faced off with Golden Horde placing ahead of Lope Y Fernandez in the G1 Middle Park Stakes last season at Newmarket. It makes for another fascinating battle. PIERRE LAPIN bodes well having won in both starts to date including the G2 Mill Reef Stakes over 1200m at Newbury as a two-year-old.
WIN: GOLDEN HORDE
GROUP 2 Queen’s Vase
BERKSHIRE ROCCO looked to have a bright future when third in the Zetland Stakes on his final start as a juvenile. He confirmed that promise when only finding the exciting English King too good in the Lingfield Derby Trial and he should have no problem handling this step up in trip. AL DABARAN ran super well in a pair of Group races in France last September and the son of Dubawi will go close here and will be suited to this distance. SANTIAGO who a Listowel maiden on his final start as a two-year-old, and NOBEL PRIZE both deserve respect given Aidan O’Brien has trained five of the last 10 winners of this contest.
WIN: BERKSHIRE ROCCO
VALUE: NOBEL PRIZE
Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes
DURSTON was highly progressive last year and he was last seen finishing third in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury in August. Prior to that he only found the subsequent St Leger second Sir Ron Priestley too good in a handicap at Goodwood. Both of those performances suggest that a mark of 100 bodes well. The threat will be WEST END CHARMER who made a winning return to action at Newmarket 12 days ago. He only raced only three times last season, but he took his form to another level when running away with the Class 2 win at Newmarket. He should relish this opportunity.
WIN: WEST END CHARMER
VALUE: MEDAL WINNER
RACE 6, No.2 BERKSHIRE ROCCO
RACE 4, No.7 ELARQAM
RACE 2, No.11 UNDERTAKE