Two world-class Group 1 races provide the highlights on the track for the fourth day of Royal Ascot on Friday with a supporting cast of three competitive handicaps and two more Group level contests.
The action gets underway with the Albany Stakes for two-year-old fillies over six furlongs. This looks a strong renewal with several first-time out winners lining up. Flotus was a taking winner on debut at Goodwood for Simon and Ed Crisford and is clearly well regarded at home. Hello You also produced a devasting turn of foot at Wolverhampton to win her first start while George Boughey runs Oscula and Cachet who should both be respected.
The King Edward VII Stakes, colloquially referred to as the Ascot Derby, looks to be a fascinating puzzle for punters to solve. Alenquer beat the subsequent Derby winner Adayar at Sandown and is likely to be well supported while The Mediterranean has been supplemented for the race by Coolmore and is their only runner in the race.
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A high-quality field of 20 are due to go to post for the Commonwealth Cup, the first Group 1 race of the day. They are headed by Wesley Ward’s Campanelle who won the Queen Mary Stakes last year. Ward has endured a frustrating week but she could be his best chance of a winner provided the ground doesn’t get too testing.
There is a real international feel to the race once again with French raider Suesa looking to extend her unbeaten record which includes two Group 3 races in four starts. Dragon Symbol looks the best of the British challengers although Supremacy could also have a chance if he returns to his two-year-old best after disappointing on Royal Ascot Trials Day in May. This is a deep race though and Sacred, who travelled like the best horse in the 1,000 Guineas, should be better at this trip and has every chance.
Gold Cup Day 2021 in the books ??@Betfred #RoyalAscot pic.twitter.com/smWh5IvvOp
— Ascot Racecourse (@Ascot) June 17, 2021
Stellar Field in Coronation Stakes
The top-level action comes thick and fast with the Coronation Stakes next and this is another absolutely brilliant renewal with the English, Irish and German Guineas winners all set to go head-to-head to decide who is the best European three-year-old filly over a mile.
Mother Earth claimed the Newmarket Classic before finishing second in the French version while Empress Josephine finished strongly to claim victory at the Curragh. Novemba is the German Guineas winner and she is a real unknown quantity for Peter Schiergen. Potapova is unexposed after winning both her starts while Pretty Gorgeous has the best juvenile form and would have every chance if she improves for seasonal reappearance.
The Sandringham Stakes looks as open a handicap as there ever could be with 30 largely lightly raced fillies declared. Friendly ran well in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and drops from that Group 1 to a handicap so she must be respected while Create Belief is another Irish challenger with every chance and any rain would aid her chances.
Scarlet Dragon and Hollie Doyle bid for back-to-back victories in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (5.35pm). He has mixed it over hurdles and on the Flat since then but must have a strong chance here from a mark of just 4lb higher than that 2020 success. Tritonic also runs for trainer Alan King and he could have more to offer on the level after mixing it in high-class company over Jumps last winter.
Zabeel Champion and Dark Pine are both in fine form this season while Alounak was second in the Hardwicke Stakes last year over this course and distance and could be the class horse angle.
Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes Closes Out Card
The concluding Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes was one of the new additions to the programme last year and it proved extremely popular. Once again it has attracted a large field of 25 and it looks fiendishly difficult to try and unravel.
Boomshalaa is likely to be popular following his victory at Windsor in May and his opening mark of 93 looks very workable. Significantly also has strong form in the book despite not winning this season and remains on a potentially dangerous mark while Equality looks hugely unexposed for Charlie Hills.
Love Stamps Ticket to Breeders’ Cup Turf
Love (IRE), Europe’s dominant 3-year-old filly in 2020, began 2021 in impressive fashion with the most game front-running performance to capture the 1¼-mile US$991,000 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1), a victory which guaranteed her a starting position in the US$4million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 84 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California, on Nov. 5-6.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Love to start in the 1 ½-mile Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Breeders’ Cup also will provide a travel allowance of US$40,000 for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes was new territory for Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier’s homebred chestnut daughter of Galileo (IRE) out of the Pivotal (GB) mare Pikaboo (GB). Love had never raced over the 1¼-mile distance before nor competed against male horses.
Wednesday’s Highlights at Royal Ascot
She rose to the challenge with aplomb, holding off all comers under Ryan Moore to register trainer Aidan O’Brien’s 75th winner at Royal Ascot, equaling the number saddled by the late Sir Henry Cecil. The victory was also O’Brien’s fourth in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. He has also saddled six winners of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“We knew that her head was down and looking at Ryan’s body language he hadn’t gone for everything,” said O’Brien. “He was trying to let her win and give her as easy time as he could. She will come on a lot. We had prepared her two or three times and stopped and started again, which was far from ideal and we were delighted the lads [owners] decided to wait until the ground came right. There is nowhere better to start than Royal Ascot.”