The opening race on day four of the Royal Ascot meeting is the Group Three Albany Stakes at 2-30. 11 of the last 12 winners contested a maiden last time out and that trend rules out Sandiva who arguably has the best form on offer. Frankel’s half sister Joyeuse won in taking style at Lingfield on debut and while she may not be as good as her sibling she appears to have plenty of ability. It would be a poignant and popular victory for Lady Cecil and a bold showing can be expected. However, I always like a two year old that has been in a battle before and Aidan O’Brien’s Wonderfully could continue Ballydoyle’s good run of form. On the face of it she has plenty to find on form but Aidan appeared to leave plenty to work on and it will be no surprise to see her take a leap forwards.
In the King Edward VII Stakes the clear form pick is Battle Of Marengo whose unbeaten run came to an end when fourth in the Epsom Derby. The major worry is that he didn’t seem to get home that day and he could be vulnerable to stronger stayers up the home straight. There does seem to be a lack of class in the race but it is feasible that an unexposed horse will step up. Sir Michael Stoute has won this race four times since 1991 and his Hillstar may improve for the step up in class. Last year’s winner Thomas Chippendale made the leap and Hillstar may have a lot more to offer over the extra distance. His tendency to race keenly may be his downfall but Sir Michael Stoute wouldn’t enter him if he didn’t feel he could do himself justice.
The feature race on Friday is the Group One Coronation Stakes and there certainly seems to be an abundance of talent on show. The English and Irish 1000 Guineas’ winners, Sky Lantern and Just The Judge, go head to head once more and Charlie Hills’ filly is fancied to reverse placings with Sky Lantern. Just The Judge probably needed the run at Newmarket and certainly showed the benefits of it when battling to victory in the Irish version. Those two are likely to be involved at the finish again. I really fancied Ollie Olga in the Guineas and she was running very well until a lack of fitness showed so a better showing would come as no surprise and she may reward each way support at 50/1. The main selection is an intriguing contender from the Stoute yard, Pavlosk, who has been supplemented for the race. She only made her racecourse debut but handled the step up to listed class with the minimum of fuss at York last time out. Her rapidly progressive profile makes her the main selection as she hails from a shrewd yard.
Four year olds have a great record in the Wolferton Handicap winning all bar two of the last thirteen runnings. There are just six horses in that category this year and the standout selection is Godolphin’s Albasharah. She routed the field in a Doncaster handicap on her return winning by eight lengths. This is just her fourth start and she is likely to make up to a Group filly in time so can take this valuable handicap en route.
It is fantastic that Ascot have named the Queen’s Vase in honour of the legendary Sir Henry Cecil. This is always an interesting contest with many of the runners never having raced over this far before. It has the potential of throwing up a future staying star such as the Queen’s Estimate. The obvious starting point is Aidan O’Brien’s Leading Light who won a Group Three contest over 1m 2f last time out and he could well turn out to be the yard’s new staying superstar. However, it is John Gosden’s Nichols Canyon who appeals most. In both his races this year he has been a bit outpaced before running on well and appears the sort to be all stamina. Thus this trip should bring out the best in him and he has bags of potential coupled with some smart form.
Royal Ascot Selectons: Wonderfully 2-30, Hillstar 3-05, Pavlosk and Ollie Olga (E/W) 3-45, Albasharah 4-25, Nichols Canyon 5-00 and Nassau Storm 5-35