Royal Ascot Day Four 2020 Preview

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

On day three, the rain fell and made the ground soft. Twitter jumped into the “Will Stradivarius handle the ground?” debate which often precedes his races. But there was no reason to worry because Stradivarius hacked up by ten lengths. He truly is a wonderful horse.

Let’s hope for some similarly scintillating performances on day four when the Commonwealth Cup and Hardwicke Stakes top the bill…

Palace Of Hollyroodhouse Handicap

Racing on Friday kicks off with this twenty-two runner five furlong handicap for three year olds with an official rating of 0 to 105. Band Practice is the highest rated at 104. She completed a hattrick in September last year, which included a listed race, but was last in a group two at Santa Anita in November. This is a more appropriate class for her but, as she is the highest rated, she has top weight. There has been a lot of talk this week in regard to the draw bias as the winners seem to be coming from the low draws. Drawn in stall one is Never Dark for Hayley Turner, who won the Sandringham for the second time this year. This colt placed in all four of his two year old races and finally got off the mark, making all at Kempton sixteen days ago. Uncommonly, there is a short priced (2/1 and possibly shortening) favourite – ART POWER. This horse really really impressed me with an emphatic victory on the opening day of the season. He’s a gorgeous, grey son of Dark Angel and I think he could be an exciting horse going forward. If the ground turns up soft, that is no problem at all because he won as a two year old on soft ground but the draw in 19 may be his undoing. Will To Win has been in flying form. He won in June before being gelded and after that he was like a new horse. He won three times in early 2020 and was second to a stablemate next time, who was carrying 8lbs less than him. Dancin Inthestreet got off to a nice start this season with a third, beaten two lengths, at Haydock and has a chance, like Golden Dragon.

Alabany Stakes (Group Three)

I am siding with GOLDEN MELODY. She’s nicely named by Belardo and out of Chanter. It’s quite an interesting pedigree for a sprinter – Belardo won a Lockinge and her half brother is Broughton’s Admiral, who is a chaser who stays three miles for Dr Richard Newland. Other then him, she’s related to four winners and I really liked her debut victory over six furlongs. She had a wall of horses in front of her then eyeballed a rival before picking up well and asserting under James Doyle, who is in flying form. I think in this soft ground it is going to be important to stay and she should do just that. Talking of people in good form, Roger Varian has two runners – Setarhe and Undertake. Both fillies won on debut but it appears that Setarhe is preferred as Andrea Atzeni rides. She was at the rear on debut but galloped on well to beat Cirrus by three and a quarter lengths. Undertake won by half a length on her debut and has a great sprinting pedigree, by Kodiac out of a Dark Angel mare. Wesley Ward’s horses failed to make an impact on Wednesday and he has previous five and a half length winner Flying Aletha. Mother Earth, the favourite, wasn’t beaten too far on debut and is related to a group three winner.

Norfolk Stakes (Group Two)

EYE OF HEAVEN is a Mark Johnston horse with Frankie Dettori on board. He was a really smart winner on debut, beating Tactical, who obviously won the Windsor Castle, and Get It, who finished fourth in the aforementioned contest. It is such strong form. Mark Johnston’s runners often go from the front and he could give Lipizzaner a lead into the race. This horse was second in March by a half length and then second by the same distance in June. He’s related to a group two winner in Australia and by American stallion Uncle Mo and his dam won a group one. Golden Pal was second in his native America and comes over for Wesley Ward, who has a reputation for being good with two year olds. The Lir Jet is by Prince Of Lir, who won this race and was retired at two years of age. He stands for just €4000 and his son won impressively, making the majority of the running at Yarmouth on 3rd June. Qatar Racing has bought this horse. Jojo Rabbbit is having his third after a second and win, which was really good. Ventura Tormenta is having his first run but is a half brother to the likeable George Bowen.

Hardwicke Stakes (Group Two)

It sounds strange saying this as Aidan O’Brien had both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas winners, Queen Anne and Chesham winners but his most fancied horses don’t seem to be winning this week. Mogul, Japan and Sir Dragonet didn’t perform in the way they were expected to. ANTHONY VAN DYCK is a Derby winner and followed in Ghaiyyath and Stradivarius, beating Defoe last time out. It is in the back of my mind about how some of Aidan’s haven’t completely fired this week but I’ve always thought this horse was a classy individual so hopefully he can win. His biggest rival in the market appears to be Elarqam. The form of his last run when he was beaten by Lord North has been significantly boosted because that horse won the Prince of Wales but, I’m not going to lie, I’ve never thought much of this horse – there may be some ‘Jim Crowley Factor’ in his price. The ground has turned up perfectly for Morando and Hamish. Hamish won a seventeen runner handicap on soft ground over one mile six. He is stepping up in trip but the fact he stays and handles the going will play to his strengths.

Commonwealth Cup (Group One)

I’m looking forward to this race as it looks really interesting! Aidan O’Brien has three runners in this six furlong contest. Two of the three ran in the Irish 2000 Guineas a week ago; they were Lope Y Fernandez and Royal Lytham. The former had a huge reputation before he was second in the Chesham, being beaten by Pinatubo. He won a group three after that and was a good third in the Guineas. The group three was over six furlongs and this will be the softest ground he’s ever tackled. Royal Lytham probably didn’t last home in the Guineas. This is the more appropriate trip as he won the July Stakes on firm ground. The ground could be the issue for him. I have been watching out for where Southern Hills would run. He refused to load at Naas on the 8th June and he was in the King’s Stand for a while. He hasn’t been seen since winning the Windsor Castle as he had some sort of injury. The Windsor Castle was on soft ground which means he’ll handle conditions here and, if he is completely wound up, I don’t see why he can’t feature at an each-way price. Millisle is an Irish filly who came over for the 1000 Guineas. She didn’t last home over the mile but she previously won over six furlongs in the Cheveley Park at two. She will be better suited to this. The same comment applies to Mums Tipple who was stone last in the 2000 Guineas. He’s struggled to figure at the top level since a run-away victory at York and a lot of hype has surrounded him since then. He isn’t without a claim here. Pierre Lapin has just had the two starts but he was in the Winner’s Enclosure after both. He’s a son of Coventry Stakes placed Cappella Sansevero and out of Beatrix Potter, the dam of one of my all-time favourite sprinters, Harry Angel. He’ll be one of the favourites as, last time out, he won a group two and the yard is in good form. GOLDEN HORDE is my selection though. He was fifth in the Coventry Stakes, only beaten two lengths, and he then won the group two Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. He wasn’t beaten far in group ones when Earthlight won and I look forward to seeing what this horse can do aged three. The American filly Kamari was second in the Queen Mary last year.

Queen’s Vase (Group Two)

I was quite surprised that Born With Pride is such a short price. She went into her seasonal reappearance with a huge reputation after winning a listed race on debut. The explanation for her shoot to favouritism could be that the horse who came second that day has just won the Irish 1000 Guineas and the third won well at Newmarket the other day. She was a poor seventh on reappearance but the winner, Berlin Tango, was third in the Hampton Court and the second, Pyledriver, won the Edward VII. I can see the attraction to her but I’m siding with BERKSHIRE ROCCO for Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy. This horse has some good form to his name and he followed in English King in the Lingfield Derby Trial. Nothing from that run suggested he wouldn’t appreciate this increase in drip. He‘s by Derby winner Sir Percy and the yard won this last year with Dashing Willoughby. Al Dabaran is a dual winner and has placed in two group twos. He’s stepping up five furlongs in trip from his last start and has blinkers on for the first time. Wishing the Heather Main team lots of luck with outsider Cloud Thunder.

Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap)

0-105 races top-and-tail the card – just this one is over one mile and round about four furlongs. I’m going to side with the Jim Crowley-ridden DURSTON. He’s won twice over further than this and followed in Sir Ron Priestley, who placed in the St Leger, at Goodwood in July. When last seen, he was third to Technician in a group three and he’s been gelded since. My only worry is the form of the yard – they have gone without a winner since the resumption of racing but there are signs the horses are starting to run a bit better now. Nathaniel colt West End Charmer is four from seven and comes from the Mark Johnston yard. El Misk is very consistent and ha sonly been out of the top two on one start. Dolphin Vista is a good horse on his day. In his career, he’s won two listed races, one of those was in August, and a Cambridgeshire. Now seven, he’s moved yards to Jim Boyle and changing yards often revitalises a horse and he’s on his lowest mark since September 2017.

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