Palace Of Holyroodhouse Handicap (6.10pm) preview
It is tough on Laura Coughlan, who has partnered Mo Celita to four of his five straight wins since April, to be replaced by Oisin Murphy for the filly’s run at Royal Ascot, but Murphy has a rare gift for finding more improvement when riding a horse for the first time and the punters have certainly latched on, making him favourite here at around 5-1. Mo Celita has plenty of form with cut in the ground but another 8lb rise in the weights to a mark of 90 is a concern for a horse that started the season winning sellers.
There are plenty of each-way alternatives and I’ll have a dabble at Karl Burke’s front-runner Significantly, who has a useful draw one off the rail in 24. He has yet to register a win this year, but his second behind Dragon Symbol – first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup earlier on the card – at Hamilton last time is arguably a match for anything his rivals can offer. He also split Creative Force, a runner in tomorrow’s Jersey, and another Commonwealth Cup contender, Jumby, at Newmarket in April.
Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap (5.35pm) result
Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap (5.35pm) preview
Several more non-runners here including Grand Bazaar, due to be the mount of Frankie Dettori, with Oisin Murphy’s partner Blackthorn heading the market at around 4-1. He pulled eight-and-a-half lengths clear of his field in a Haydock handicap on good-to-soft ground last time out, but has paid for it in the weights with a 13lb rise. He should have improvement to come, as that was his seasonal debut and he is also making only the sixth start of his career here. It is a fair old hike, though, on the softest ground that he has faced to date and in his toughest assignment yet. Proven mudlarks Sam Cooke and Aaddeey have obvious claims while Mirann, another interesting runner from the Johnny Murtagh stable looked unlucky not to win on heavy at the Curragh last time and will appreciate the step back up in trip.
But I’ll take a chance with Scarlet Dragon instead, even though he is a very tricky sort to catch right. He is winless in nine starts, on turf, all-weather and also over hurdles, since landing this race off a mark of 97 12 months, but his record was much the same coming into the meeting last year, when he came alive for Hollie Doyle to give her a first Royal winner. She is back aboard today and 16-1 looks fair each-way value with several bookies still offering five places.
Selection: SCARLET DRAGON
Sandringham Handicap (5pm) preview
The field for this filles’ handicap over the straight mile has been reduced by no fewer than eight non-runners but it remains fiercely competitive, with Johnny Murtagh’s Create Belief emerging as the favourite this morning at around 5-1. She posted a good time when winning for the second time in her career at the Curragh last month and should not have any trouble at all coping with the ground. That said, she was 10-1 this time yesterday and the field is full of dangerous opponents, including Sir Michael Stoute’s Samoot, who remains unexposed on turf, and the course-and-distance winner Teodolina, another with plenty of form on soft and heavy ground.
Selection: CREATE BELIEF
Coronation Stakes (4.20pm) preview
Just one non-runner so far in the Coronation Stakes although it is a significant one, with Primo Bacio, a general 7-1 shot overnight, coming out this morning. That leaves a dozen fillies to go to post, including Mother Earth, Empress Josephine and Novemba, the 1,000 Guineas winners in England, Ireland and Germany respectively. The market, though, is currently headed by Pretty Gorgeous, the winner of the Group One Fillies’ Mile last season, who was a long way behind Empress Josephine at the Curragh after racing wide of the main field.
The ground was soft when she won her Group One at Newmarket but heavy at the Curragh, which does make you wonder if she will start to drift in the betting if the rain continues. The real springer in the market, though, is Peter Schiergen’s Novemba, who made all the running to win the German Guineas by seven-and-a-half lengths last time out. She was a 10-1 shot yesterday afternoon but is now down to around 11-2.
Commonwealth Cup (3.40pm) preview
The softening ground has done no favours to the Commonwealth Cup, a race that has established itself as one of the highlights of the week in just a few years since Muhaarar won the first running in 2015. Five of the 21 runners originally declared have now been scratched – Diligent Harry, Method, Saint Lawrence, Supremacy and Sacred – but it is an ill wind etc. etc, and Suesa, the French-trained favourite with winning form on heavy ground and a 3lb fillies’ allowance, is ever stronger in the market at around 3-1. She has done absolutely nothing wrong so far, is open to further improvement and is drawn middle-to-high, where the pace looks to be.
But – and there’s generally a but at Royal Ascot – the French sprinting division is not renowned for its depth and Suesa is nothing like as far clear of this field on ratings as her price might suggest. I’m more than happy to take her on with fast-improving Jumby, and all the more so after the form of his fast-run handicap success at Newmarket last time got yet another boost on Thursday when Perotto, nearly six lengths behind him in fourth place, won the Britannia Handicap.
King Edward VII Stakes (3.05pm) preview
Adayar has been taking a well-earned rest after his exploits in winning the Derby 13 days ago and One Ruler, the first horse from the Classic to put the form to the test, was some way down the field in the Hampton Court here yesterday. But Adayar still looms large over this race, as he was beaten by Alenquer, the favourite, on his seasonal debut in the Sandown Classic Trial. Alenquer is stepping up to 12 furlongs for the first time today, but the German bloodlines in his pedigree suggest that it will hold no fears, even if significant rain arrives, and his overall form is some way in front of anything that most of his seven rivals can muster.
Most are open to improvement, though, and The Mediterranean and Title, the next two runners in the betting, have progressed by the run, while Yibir was also in the Sandown Classic Trial, getting to within a length of the winner and a neck of Adayar in what was something of a blanket finish.