Over half an inch of rain at Ascot on Thursday morning and the ground was described as soft at noon on Thursday although there is no rain forecast for the track on Friday – day 4 of the Royal meeting.
Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck was no match for Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket earlier in the month, but he meets nothing of that calibre in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes on Day 4 of Royal Ascot. The Irish raider has not won since that Epsom success, however, and I thought he looked ready for a step up in trip when a never nearer second to the Godolphin runner at HQ.
Mark Johnston’s Elarqam (3.00) on the other hand is tackling a mile-and-a-half for the first time and he was coming back at Lord North in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes ay Haydock on his reappearance. That form was given a huge boost when the winner scooted clear of his field in the Gp 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday.
The selection is by Frankel out of the yard’s brilliant miler Attraction so his stamina must be taken on trust, but I liked the way he ran through the line at Haydock where I thought he was in front a long way from home. At the time of writing the selection is a best price 7/2 at Boylesports and I am prepared to take a chance on his stamina.
The Group 1 contest on the day is the Commonwealth Cup over 6f for three-year-olds. In the opening two days of the meeting a high draw has been a distinct advantage on the straight course and my two each way recommendations against the field, in what is a tremendous renewal, are Golden Horde and Royal Crusade (3.35) with marginal preference for the latter.
Golden Horde – 7/1 with bet365 – finished second in the Group 1 Middle Park last autumn and is the subject of favourable reports from the gallops of trainer Clive Cox. Royal Crusade – 16/1 with William Hill 4 places – has yet to race over 7f but I thought he looked a sprinter when finishing second to Threat in the Gp 2 Champagne Stakes on his second start and he looks to have a good draw in stall 16. Charlie Appleby has his string in great form and William Buick keeps the ride.
Al Dabaran is blinkered for the first time and must go close in the Queen’s Vase, and I think there will be more to come from Aidan O’Brien’s Santiago this term. Ballydoyle have saddled the winner of the corresponding race three times in the last five years and Santiago is a son of Authorized so the rain which hit the track on Thursday morning should not be a concern although his stamina for today’s 1m 6f trip is not absolutely guaranteed.
The filly Born With Pride (4.10) – 4/1 with bet365 – is better than she showed at Kempton on her reappearance and connections withdrew the filly from the Ribblesdale Stakes earlier in the week to wait for today’s race over an additional quarter of a mile and the prospect of softer ground. Her listed win at Newmarket on debut was given a huge boost when runner up Peaceful won the Irish Guineas on Saturday. Yes, you must forgive her poor run at Kempton when she was always on the back foot after a slow start, but she remains a filly of great potential and I am prepared to give her another chance.
At the time of writing Ralph Beckett’s Hereby remains second reserve for the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes but she would be a threat to all if she were to get a run. Durston (4.40) travelled supremely well in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes over an extended 1m 5f last season, but just failed to get home and I hope this slightly shorter trip will see him in a better light on his seasonal debut.
Trainer David Simcock has yet to saddle a winner so far this season, but he has had a number run well in defeat and it would be some way to break your seasonal duck at Royal Ascot. At 15/2 with bet365 I would be disappointed if he did not run a big race and he gets the ew vote although I will certainly be supporting Hereby if she faces the starter.
There is a terrific 3-year-old sprint at Lingfield, and I cannot desert Intrepid Italian (5.35) who did us a favour when scoring over this evening’s C&D eight days ago. The selection has been raised 9lbs for that success but carries just a 6lbs penalty today and Royal Ascot winning apprentice Thore Hammer Hansen takes off a valuable 5lbs. The selection is drawn in stall one while his main danger – Gigi’s Beach – is drawn out in stall seven. I would be disappointed if Richard Hannon’s colt could not give weight to his six rivals.
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