Royal Ascot, Friday: Classy Day 4
Camelot’s Derby form could receive a big boost with his stablemate Astrology, who finished third behind him at Epsom, lining up in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on Friday. Astrology heads a classy field of seven and ran with real credit in the Epsom Classic three weeks ago. He took the lead in the straight and stretched away, looking dangerous for a few strides, before fading slightly close home. His previous rout in the Dee Stakes at Chester was most notable and he can continue his upward curve here. Fans of Frankel will be watching with eagerness as his brother, Noble Mission, takes on the Irish favourite. He will improve for the step up in trip to a mile and-a-half and ran well over a mile and-a-quarter in the Fairway Stakes at Newmarket. Thought Worthy beat him that day, but didn’t appear to stay the trip in the Derby. He ran well despite that, finishing fourth, and is ridden by Frankie Dettori; with stable jockey William Buick opting for Shantaram. The latter recorded only a workmanlike win in a maiden last time, but had previously got close to Derby runner-up Main Sequence in the Derby Trial at Lingfield. Buick’s decision is very eye-catching indeed.
Kicking-off the day is the Albany Stakes, which looks wide open. Buick / Gosden have another fancied chance in Newfangled, who won impressively on her debut. There was a lot to like about the manner of that win, but the majority of that field hasn’t been seen out since and so it may be worth risking a longer priced horse, with proven form. That horse could be Premier Steps, for the in form combination of Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote, who were responsible for Ceiling Kitty, the winner of Wednesday’s Queen Mary Stakes. Premier Steps won at Ascot last time, beating another of today’s runners, Equitania, comfortably. Her previous run was better than the form suggests and she wasn’t beaten far at all by Englishman, Smoothtalkinrascal and Cay Verde, who have all come out and run well earlier in the week. The step up to six furlongs is also a bonus. Frankie Dettori got a good tune out of maiden Ian’s Dream in the Norfolk on Thursday and could go well again with The Gold Cheongsam, like Ian’s Dream, trained by Jeremy Noseda. He was an unlucky third on debut at Goodwood and will have improved leaps and bounds. Tassel must be liked by Richard Hughes, who rides again despite a terrible run at Salisbury where something may have been amiss, whilst Kosika’s maiden win at Haydock looked good, the horse having travelled well and found plenty in the closing stages.
Gatewood in the Wolferton Handicap is yet another leading fancy for the stable of John Gosden, having won in spectacular fashion at Epsom during the Derby meeting three weeks ago. This sort of distance seems to be his optimum; he has a light weight and could still be improving. He is often situated at the rear of the field during his races, so expect to see him flying fast and late. Gosden is also responsible for last year’s winner Beachfire, who will have needed his first run of the season, so expect him to fare better. Kieran Fallon should always be kept on the right side of at the Royal Meeting and he rides Danadana who is seeking a hat-trick. His wins recently have been impressive and he is the type to do well in a race like this. Meanwhile, a rare American runner in this mile and-a-quarter handicap comes in the form of Hyper, whilst Black Spirit, who only travels from Hungerford, has a nice each way shout back on a more even course after finishing a none too distant fourth to Gatewood at Epsom.
Thirty runner handicaps don’t get any easier and the Buckingham Palace Stakes is no exception! Eton Forever was unlucky at Chester last time and will enjoy seven furlongs, having run well but weakened in the Royal Hunt Cup over a mile at Royal Ascot last season. He wouldn’t want the ground too soft, however. Belgian Bill is out again after having faded in the Royal Hunt Cup this year and could run better down in trip, but Mia’s Boy, whilst smart on his day, is accustomed to running over further. Haamaat was having only his second run on turf when a respectable fourth at Haydock last time and is undoubtedly unexposed. Perhaps an outsider to note is Atlantic Sport. He ran in some really good races last season and frequently ran well. He always improves for his seasonal debut and with that out of the way, he could spring a shock.
The Queen has her final runner of the meeting in the Queen’s Vase, courtesy of Estimate. This filly may give her her best chance yet this week, after Carlton House’s near-miss and Momentary’s disappointment. Her impressive win at Salisbury this season, coupled with her staying pedigree, gives hope that she will relish this further trip and Sir Michael Stoute allows her to take her chance against the boys. Athens represents Ireland and Aidan O’Brien who has a good record in this race. He must be respected and is consistent. Yazdi is improving quickly and looks a real stayer, whilst Minimise Risk ran last time in the Derby and so has the form to take a hand.
Image courtesy of thesun.co.uk