The bookies had the last laugh yesterday with a number of notable defeats, including odds-on Order Of St George and the well supported Mori. Friday looks a good chance to get some of this lost cash back and the following race by race preview can point you in the right direction.
2 30 Albany Stakes – ALPHA CENTAURI (J Harrington) 9/4
Jessica Harrington’s monster 2YO can get us off to the perfect start, and at 9/4 retains some value at the top of the market. She is a huge filly and has won well both starts, on both quick and slower ground in Ireland. Jessie Harrington has been a phenomenon this season, over the jumps and on the flat. Her first runners at Ascot both ran to expectations and Brother Bear should really have won if not for the wobble to the stands side when the finishing line was gaping.
Alpha Centauri is the favoured of the juveniles from the Harrington yard and has a great opportunity to make it three from three. If she was in the hands of Ballydoyle or Godolphin she’d be close to Evens, if not shorter. She made all on debut to win impressively and backed it up again at Naas despite a trickier passage through the race. The form of the debut has worked out reasonably strong, and the fifth place horse, Now You’re Talking, beat Clemmie on debut and finished a formidable fourth behind Heartache in the Queen Mary.
Undoubtedly Clemmie will have come on plenty, and seems to be following a very similar pattern to her brother Churchill. The main threat will come from Clemmie, drawn next to Alpha Centauri in 2 and the early stages could prove crucial. At the prices a small saver on Clemmie wouldn’t be the worst decision, but I’m sticking with Harrington’s filly and with the year she’s had surely she’ll bag a prize at Ascot to put the cherry on top of a remarkable season.
3 05 King Edward VII Stakes – SALOUEN (S Kirk) 8/1
Just watch the Derby back, a race already proving strong this week, and watch Salouen poised ominously before his race his abruptly ended when clipping heels. He still made ground on some of his rivals before meeting more traffic and ultimately being pulled up. Many of the Derby runners heading out tomorrow have questions to answer still. Permian looked stretched by the 1M4F and Best Solution had no excuses before fading in the final stages.
The quick ground will be no issue, and a fairer track like Ascot will suit him judged by his Epsom efforts. A smaller field should see him be able to settle towards the rear and pick up his position coming into the bend.
Sir John Lavery has a lot of improvement to find to be competitive but is being well backed. Crystal Ocean also needs to find more, and although the extra 2F should suit, he still needs to find extra to get past Permian and at the prices I’ll happily leave alone.
3 40 Commonwealth Cup – BLUE POINT (C Appleby) 6/1
It has been billed as the race of the week and it’s easy to see why. Blue Point gets the hesitant nod, but this is more of a spectacle than a big punting race for me. The 6/1 EW is just because he’s overpriced and would be surprised if he’s out of the picture. His run at Ascot earlier in the season was a blinder and a repeat will see him go very close, no matter how well Caravaggio and Harry Angel go.
He loves quick ground and has proven form over 7F, a must in what will still be a stamina test given the abundance of pace out the front. It is just a small token though and the clash between Godolphin and Coolmore at the top of the market is what the race is all about. Caravaggio is a monster and the rightful favourite, but Harry Angel fully announced himself on the 3YO sprinting scene with a track record at Haydock when trouncing his rivals from the front.
The third from that Haydock heat, Mubatism, went on to run a blinder behind one of the winners of the week, Le Brivido, in the Jersey. It doesn’t take a connoisseur to work out that is some top 3YO form. But, we all know what Caravaggio did last year at Ascot and he remains undefeated. He hasn’t been tested since however and that’s the only possible chink in the armour you could make any argument for.
4 20 Coronation Stakes – WINTER (A O’Brien) 8/15 (No Bet)
With only seven going to post, and three of these from Ballydoyle’s ranks, there’s no way Winter should get beat. I’m not going to take my chances at the odds as that’s not my style, but in any sane world Winter wins, and wins well.
She’s been a star and only improved when landing the Guineas double at the Curragh. Dabyah won’t be a pushover but has her work cut out to beat Aidan’s new filly on the block. John Gosden had aimed to send her to France, so this was not the original plan either.
If you feel that strongly on her chuck her in a few multiples with some of your other bets, but a filly at that price, no thanks.
5 00 Queen’s Vase – MISTER MANDURO (M Johnston) 12/1 & DESERT SKYLINE (D Elsworth) 15/2
A small EW token only on the pair, these races have a habit of drawing you in needlessly when you’ve already done the hard work. A field full of unexposed 3YOs from deft yards up and down the country, not forgetting Ireland, hardly makes the best betting heat but a case can be made for the above mentioned pair.
The Epsom race Drochaid won with Desert Skyline in third is a strong piece of form at this level. Andrew Balding’s 3YO ran well on Thursday at Ascot and finished a strong fourth despite lots of traffic problems. He wanted further and the indications are that the quicker the surface the better. 15/2 is a good price considering the positives.
Mister Manduro is based more on guesswork and the savvy Mark Johnston took him out of the race on Thursday when he’d already been heavily backed. The trainer must have fancied his chances better here and has form claims aside from this anyway. He’ll need to find improvement to figure but is lightly raced and will no doubt be another typically tough Johnson horse.
5 35 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes – SOLDIER IN ACTION (M Johnston) 18/1 & STAR STORM (J Fanshawe) 18/1
Another race designed to fill the bookies pockets at the end of the afternoon. Two big EW pokes are the order of the day here. Soldier In Action saved us at Epsom and is a horse that goes on a roll before slowing down and sliding down the weights. I think he’s finding some form and confidence again and at 18s needs to be played.
Star Storm is a frustrating horse but one with plenty of talent on his day. He’s consistent at Listed level and will enjoy the quick conditions. He stays all day and won’t mind a hot pace to come at. He ran into one at Ascot last time and will have been held back for this since, despite a considerable drop in the weights. He has some of the best form on offer in the race and in a tough and competitive handicap such as this I’d rather side with two hardened and proven horses over the unexposed more trendy picks.