Can the Queen bag more success at Royal Ascot on Day Four?
Following a cracking week’s racing from Royal ascot which has seen royalty come and go, a Strictly star being escorted for her lack of adherence to the dress code and a whole lot of long-shot value to be had for punters, we take a race-by-race look ahead to Friday’s action.
2.30 – Albany Stakes
The opening contest gives owner Noel O’Callaghan the chance to land a rare double, as Patience Alexander bids to add to the win of Anthem Alexander in the Queen Mary. His representative here has already beaten Queen Mary runner-up Tiggy Wiggy, and looks much the best of the domestic challenge.
The fly in the ointment is Wes Ward’s Sunset Glow, and while Ward’s juveniles aren’t exactly unstoppable at Royal Ascot, all of them seem to dwarf their rivals in terms of paddock appearance, and the unbeaten daughter of Exchange Rate is unlikely to be any different.
Plenty of the others are open to improvement, but the top pair may prove a cut above, with Patience Alexander preferred.
3.05 – Wolferton Handicap
It’s not often a Classic winner subsequently runs in a handicap in the UK, but that’s what’s happening here with last year’s Irish 1000 Guineas winner Just The Judge. She wasn’t disgraced in a Group 3 at Epsom last time, and the way she kept on suggests a try at 1¼m is overdue.
It won’t be easy giving weight away, and perhaps the most intriguing runner is bottomweight Café Society, who clearly has his quirks, but was bought to join the all-conquering Gai Waterhouse yard recently, and takes in this contest on his way to a career in Australia. He was an unlucky loser on more than one occasion last year, including behind likely favourite Bold Sniper here in July, and positively bolted up at Windsor on his final start for David Simcock.
Waterhouse has done well with UK exports in the past, and she managed to find the key to the mercurial Fiorente having acquired the Melbourne Cup winner from Sir Michael Stoute. Perhaps this run is more about opportunism that long-term planning, but we have a feeling we’ll all be hearing more about Café Society in the coming months.
3.45 – King Edward VII Stakes
The “Ascot Derby” hasn’t lived up to its lofty title in a long time, but is always a fascinating contest, with the late developers usually holding the trump cards over those who have already seen top-class action. That’s a negative to the chances of Western Hymn, for all he’d have been a clear choice if coming here instead of Epsom.
He was better than the result in the Derby despite not handling the track, but this quick turnaround is far from ideal, and smacks of owner pressure. He may get away with it, but I’d prefer to look elsewhere. Adelaide is the market leader, but is clearly held by Snow Sky on a line through stablemate Mekong River, and simply looks too short, even before stamina concerns are addressed.
Snow Sky won the Lingfield Derby Trial having been beaten by Western Hymn at Newbury, and it’s possible that he can reverse earlier form given a smoother preparation for this event.
4.25 – Coronation Stakes
A major feature of this contest is how many of these fillies are truly capable of showing their best form over 1m on turf, with only Lesstalk In Paris a winner under such conditions. That said, Lightning Thunder has been runner-up in a pair of Classics, and deserves to be favourite, with seasonal debutants My Titania and Kiyoshi both bred to improve for this trip.
Either one of that pair is capable of improving past the selection if over the setbacks which ruled them out of the 1000 Guineas. The negative for that pair is that it’s proven nigh-on impossible for a filly to win this after a lay-off (only Mail The Desert has even been placed in the last 15 years), so they both have a bit to prove.
5.00 – Queen’s Vase
The Queen’s Vase has enjoyed a mini-revival in recent years, throwing up a Gold Cup winner and a St Leger victor in the last two runnings, but it’s highly debatable whether the 2014 renewal contains any stars.
Best of a modest bunch looks to be Marzocco, who is out of a Dynaformer mare and related to that rare beast, a winning stayer in the US. He’s not had things go his way at Epsom and Goodwood this season, and already looks in need of at least 1½m, if not further. He’s got plenty of scope for further improvement, and will be better suited by quick ground than a couple of his main rivals.
5.35 – Buckingham Palace Stakes
A fiendishly difficult getting-out stakes where it may be worth chancing Bronze Angel, who has fallen in the weights since his stellar 2012 campaign, and has been hinting at a revival in recent starts.
Despite winning a Cambridgeshire over 9f, he seems to have found a bit more speed as he’s got older, and has travelled with real dash on both starts this year, the latest behind Chil the Kite at Newbury, where the drop to 7f looked to suit him.
The winner was very unlucky in the Hunt Cup, and while Bronze Angel’s finishing has been a little weak this year, it’s possible that he’s gradually working his way back to full fitness, and has a cracking draw in stall 30 for one who can travel as strongly as he does.
We hope the sun shines on another lovely day at Royal Ascot and whether you’re attending the meeting or not, may good fortune be with you!
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