Royal Ascot 2023: Day 4, Friday, Preview

Royal Ascot 2024: Day 4 (Friday) Preview, Tips

And so to the fourth and final quarter of the daily race previews, Friday, Day 4. Two Group 1's, led out by the relatively new Commonwealth Cup and followed up with a cracking Coronation Stakes, are the features but there's plenty to go at from start to end, beginning with the...

2.30 Albany Stakes (6f, Group 3, 2yo fillies)

Presented by John Burke's "Victor Value" service

It's hard to believe we've already reached the fourth day of Royal Ascot — time certainly flies when you're having fun. This is my final day of previewing a daily race for Geegeez, and I've genuinely enjoyed it. I hope you've found my musings on the various contests both insightful and enjoyable.

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On Wednesday, I tipped a 20/1 winner for Victor Value subscribers. Interestingly, if I hadn’t been previewing the juvenile races for this site, I probably wouldn’t have even looked at that race. So I owe a big thanks to Matt Bisogno for pushing me in the two-year-old direction. [You're welcome, John - just wish I'd given you the Windsor Castle for Wednesday! - Ed.]

Today, let's talk about the Albany Stakes, a prestigious Group 3. Here are some key details about the race: Run over six furlongs the Albany Stakes was inaugurated in 2002, making it one of the newer races at the Royal Ascot meeting. Initially classified at Listed level, it was promoted to Group 3 status in 2005, reflecting its growing importance and quality of participants.

Over the years, several winners of the Albany Stakes have gone on to achieve greater success in their racing careers, enhancing the race's reputation as a launchpad for future champions. For instance, the last two winners, Porta Fortuna (2023) and Meditate (2022), both went on to achieve Group 1 success. Winning or performing well in the Albany Stakes can significantly enhance the reputation and value of a filly, both in terms of racing and breeding potential.

The Albany Stakes continues to maintain its status as a key early-season race for two-year-old fillies.

Key Trends (Last 5 Years):

Last Time Out Track: Naas – 2 winners from 5 runners +40, 3 places

Last Time Out Placing: 1st - 5 winners from 86 runners, 15 places (non-winners last time are 0 from 33 runners, 4 places)

Key Contenders:

Fairy Godmother

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Fairy Godmother built on her debut promise by defeating five rivals in the Group 3 Fillies' Sprint Stakes at Naas last time. The daughter of Night Of Thunder is bred to be speedy and sets a high standard.

Heavens Gate

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Heavens Gate won a Curragh maiden over the distance 26 days ago. Like Fairy Godmother, she is open to further improvement. She has the rail draw in stall 17.

Mountain Breeze

Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Mountain Breeze looked impressive when winning at Newmarket last month. The daughter of Lope De Vega is now two from two and is poised for a big run, posing the main threat to the favourite in my view.

California Dreamer

Trainer: Adrian Murray. California Dreamer finished a length third to Fairy Godmother at Naas. This was a significant improvement from her Dundalk debut, indicating she has more to offer, although beating Fairy Godmother will be tough.


Trainer: Archie Watson. Twafeeg showcased her speed by winning on debut at Doncaster 20 days ago. There is more to come from her, and an Archie Watson juvenile should never be underestimated at Royal Ascot.


Trainer: Ollie Sangster. Simmering showed plenty of promise on her debut at York, finishing third behind Arabie, who has since won a Group 3 at Chantilly. Sent off the 3/1 favourite at York she must have been showing plenty at home. While beating top contenders like Fairy Godmother and Mountain Breeze will be tough, Simmering has room for plenty of improvement. With Jamie Spencer on board, she could get into the places.

Albany Stakes Verdict:

Fairy Godmother sets a high bar and will be tough to beat, but Mountain Breeze is also a strong contender and should provide a stern challenge. Twafeeg, coming off a recent win at Doncaster, has solid each-way claims. The most intriguing runner in the line-up is Simmering, who arguably has the most potential for improvement among the 17 fillies.

Betting Advice:

My idea of the winner is Fairy Godmother and 13/8 looks a fair price about her chance but if you’re looking for an each-way play at big odds I would consider Simmering if you can get 25/1 and four places.

Simmering: £2 each way – 25/1 @ bet365 (paying four places)


3.05 Commonwealth Cup (6f, Group 1, 3yo)

Preview by Matt Bisogno

Introduced in 2015, this six furlong Group 1 for three-year-olds only is a terrific addition to the Royal Ascot menu. It's been a slot where failed Classic aspirants have rediscovered their top class mojo over a more suitable trip; and where genuinely fast horses can show their (go faster) stripes. In its nine years to date, no trainer has taken the prize more than once, and no horse has returned greater than 12/1 in spite of big fields being commonplace.

Sheikh Obaid has a strong hand with, at time of writing, the first two in the betting. Inisherin was supplemented at some expense, even by a Sheikh's standard, after an easy score in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock. He'd previously led the 2000 Guineas field to the quarter pole before the lactic acid kicked in and he checked out. Remarkably, and atypically, he'd never run shorter than a mile prior to the Haydock race. That's a bit of a question mark given it was soft ground there, and so more of an emphasis on stamina, whereas it will be fast turf here. Moreover, leading against milers who are saving something for the final two furlongs is different from trying to best the fastest and classiest speedsters of his generation. He has an obvious chance to win but looks opposable at the prices.

Arrow number two in Sheikh Obaid's quiver is Elite Status, who lived up to his name when hacking up in a Listed race over this trip at Newbury last time. Trained by Karl Burke, who has trained a Commonwealth Cup winner, he's had plenty of experience, with four wins from seven starts thus far. They include a second Listed score as well as a Group 3 but he was thumped in both the Prix Morny and Middle Park (both G1) at the end of last season. You could argue that he was over the top for them, but it is also not unreasonable to take a less charitable view of those no shows. Perhaps he's not quite at this level.

Jasour was beaten in that same brace of top level two-year-old sprints, and also bookended those heavy defeats with Pattern class wins: in his case he preceded them with a G2 victory and debuted this campaign with a G3, over course and distance in the trial race to boot. That was a notable career best and it's perfectly plausible that he's improved plenty from two to three. This, of course, will be the acid test. His trainer, Clive Cox, has, like Burke, won this race before so knows the formula.

Third to Big Evs and Valiant Force, both 2023 Royal Ascot winners, in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, Starlust showed there that he could handle very fast ground. He was staying on over that turning five furlongs but has beaten plenty of times (eight, to be exact, from a dozen starts). Moreover, his best form is mostly at the minimum and he looks exposed in comparison with some of his rivals. That said, he does bring the highest official rating into the race, his 114 being earned with a nine pounds hike for an easy handicap verdict last time.

Givemethebeatboys was due to run in that Breeders' Cup race but was scratched by the Santa Anita vets the day before the race, a deeply frustrating experience for all involved, no doubt. Before then, he'd run creditably in the Phoenix and Middle Park Stakes, and holds Elite Status and Jasour on literal analyses of that form. He began 2024 with a Listed win at Navan before just failing to pass the intended but now absent Bucanero Fuerte in a Naas Group 3 last time. This stiff six looks ideal though he'll need to improve a good bit.

Archie Watson has an excellent record at Royal Ascot - three wins last year, just failed in the Coventry over course and distance on Tuesday - and saddles Evade, winner of the 7f Surrey Stakes last time. Trained prior to that Epsom race by Andre Fabre, he'd finished 2023 with a distant view of Rosallion's rump in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. But it was a big step forward on Oaks day, where he was tardy from the gate but showed plenty of speed to move to the front of the field; he then battled gamely while seeming unbalanced on the camber and can arguably be marked up a touch.

Classic Flower runs for Patrice Cottier, who saddled Horizon Dore to run third in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday. In the same ownership, this daughter of Calyx has been second on all three starts in '24, all on very wet turf. Her trainer must fancy her to show more on terra firmer, and she did win a Group 2 on good to soft last October. Her form is hard to peg - likely a beat below the pick of her rivals - but she is consistent, could conceivably step forward for fast turf, and her trainer is respected.

The rest of them probably have too much to find but I want to mention two highly progressive runners who wouldn't be total shock winners. Firstly, Stuart Williams trains Pandora's Gift, a filly that has raced exclusively on all-weather surfaces heretofore. Second on her debut as a 20/1 shot, she's won her other four starts, most recently when waltzing away with a Listed prize at Chelmsford. Prior to that she won in a manner rarely seen in a valuable all-weather handicap. She went up 12lb for that win and another 11lb for her Listed victory. If she can translate that level to turf, a further similar bound forward would put her bang there. If.

The twice-raced Kind Of Blue is the other worth noting. James Fanshawe has had some very good sprinters - remember The Tin Man? - and while it's very early to include this colt's name in the same sentence, he looked very good in the second of two novice stakes wins last time. That was good to firm ground on Doncaster's straight track, so no conditions fears, but this is a chasmic class rise. One to keep on side going forwards and it will be interesting, though not wager worthy, to see how he goes in this G1.

This is quite difficult. I want to be against Inisherin, whose ability to lead may be compromised against genuine top class sprinters. Obviously, I expect him to win now. Elite Status made a big jump on figures on his sole three-year-old start and may have matured into a far better model, with similar comments applying to the slightly more lightly-raced Jasour; the latter is a bigger price and appeals as a bit of value at around 6/1. And at Hail Mary prices, I want to take penny flyers on the two fillies, Classic Flower and Pandora's Gift. There are reasons to believe both could step forward a chunk on what they've achieved under these markedly different conditions and, while they might fail badly, the price justifies small interest. Two fillies have won this in its short history so there are no reservations on that score: it's 'simply' whether they'll be remotely good enough!

If I'm wrong about the Sheikh Obaid pair, so be it, but it looks a more open contest than the top two to me...

Suggestion: 80% of a unit win Jasour at 6/1, 5% e/w Classic Flower 33/1 and 5% e/w 25/1 Pandora's Gift


3.45 Coronation Stakes (1m, Group 1, 3yo fillies)

Preview by Rory Delargy

Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna is arguably more exposed than a few around her in the market for the Coronation Stakes, but she is proven at the highest level and her form stacks up well given she has previous at the track and the likely fast ground suits her ideally.

Porta Fortuna was a decisive winner of the Albany Stakes here twelve months ago, where she impressed with the way she moved through the race before taking it up at the furlong pole and repelling the challenge of Matrika. She was below form on softer ground in both the Phoenix Stakes and the Moyglare Stud Stakes (5¾ lengths joint-third to subsequent Irish 1000 Guineas winner Fallen Angel) but belatedly built on her Royal Ascot win when clocking a smart time in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket at the end of September, beating Rubies And Pearls by a length and a half on ground Timeform called good to firm.

She then ran a screamer in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf on her first try at a mile, and again shaped really well after an absence when second in the 1000 Guineas on good ground. She was forced to go earlier than ideal there in pursuit of Ramatuelle, and that pair gave Guineas winner Elmalka a target to aim at, with the margin between the trio at the line very small. The closing sectional suggesting that the winner was favoured by making her move latest of all.

The pair she split are both respected but I’m more than happy to continue to support Porta Fortuna, who has more than once shown herself to be very game under pressure. The fact that she is proven on track and ground is a big positive and the turning mile should suit better than the straight one at Newmarket given her tactical speed.

Ramatuelle could be considered an unlucky loser at Newmarket with plenty blaming Aurelien Lemaitre for kicking too soon but, while Lemaitre has made a couple of high-profile errors, I thought he gave the Justify filly an excellent ride, maximising her superior speed at a crucial part of the race and almost stealing it as a result. My view is that she barely stays 7f and that she will be vulnerable here where she has a draw in stall one which means she must either be ridden aggressively to get track position, or hope that others give her room which is far from certain.

Elmalka is unexposed and will be fancied by many to progress again, but we saw Notable Speech fail to match his 2000 Guineas effort in the St James’s Palace earlier in the week, and Ascot does present challenges of its own. As mentioned, I thought that while the ground she made up late looked remarkable she happened to be in the right part of the track the way that race unfolded, and I’m not sold on her superiority on the day.

Recommended: 1pt e/w Porta Fortuna @ 7/1 (general)




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4.25 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (1m4f, Class 2 handicap, 3yo+)

Presented by Sam Darby's "Winning Post Profits" service

This is probably my favourite race of the week and one of the best course and distances to have a bet on in big fields. That’s because there is a strong draw bias that is largely overlooked in the betting.



The line graph above shows the PRB3 performance by draw. It’s quite clear that the bottom eight or so stalls perform far worse than any higher stall and this trend is repeated with the win and place data too. The lowest seven stalls have won four handicaps on good or better ground whilst the next eleven stalls have won twenty times in the same time period.

The heat map shows draw and pace in combination and this is even more enlightening. There seems to be a fairly significant advantage in racing prominently or in mid-division from middle to high draws. Those run styles/draw combinations have accounted for 14 of the last 20 handicap winners in these conditions.

The only other ‘positive’ draw and run style combination is leaders from middle draws. The worst performing combinations are high drawn front runners and low drawn hold up performers.

It’s relatively easy to explain this draw bias. Big field mile and a half handicaps here can be really rough races where those on the rail often don’t get anything resembling a clear run. They don’t get long to sort themselves out in the straight so the horses that are a bit handier, and on the outside, are well positioned in relation to the lead and are pretty much guaranteed a clear run.

Fortunately, the one I’ve liked for this since the declarations first came out is a prominent racer and drawn high, which should see him to maximum effect. For quick reference, you can use the Geegeez Gold pace map below to see which horses fall into the likely advantaged category here.



On Tuesday I was strongly against Belloccio in the Copper Horse Stakes because Willie Mullins needed to suddenly improve the horse by 10lbs+ on turf for him to figure. Mullins worked his magic and the horse won well. My gripe with the Mullins horses is we know from previous experience that they are very likely to win or run well. At the same time, they often come here unproven over the trips at which they are running, unproven on the ground and their handicap marks are usually complete guesswork. That’s not the case with Ethical Diamond who ticks all those boxes and also even boasts some of my beloved ‘hot form’.

As a 3yo, before moving to Mullins’ yard he improved for the step up in trip from 10f to 12f, when beating a subsequently 94-rated runner up by 2 lengths giving her 5lbs. That run alone makes him look well treated as he is also rated 94 now himself.

He didn’t really fire over hurdles for Mullins but the ground was testing on all three occasions and he was very highly tried. The return to the flat in May did the trick, though, as he was beaten just a short head over 10f at Leopardstown. The winner has since won a handicap off an 8lb higher mark (admittedly over further) whilst the 3rd has since won a 19-runner handicap (admittedly over shorter).

Ethical Diamond has unfortunately gone up 5lbs for that effort but the form looks strong and he’s almost certain to improve for the step back up to 12f here. He likes to race prominently and is drawn in stall 18 (will probably be 16 by the time the reserves come out) so the only thing not to get excited about is the price. He’s around 5/2 at the time of writing and although that might seem short in a big field handicap, it looks pretty fair given how lightly raced he is and the scope there is for more to come stepping back up in trip.

If the race doesn’t go to Willie Mullins, it still looks more than likely it will go back to Ireland as they have a strong grip on this. Crystal Black is a very progressive rival, winning four of his last five starts. He’s been winning over a mile and also 10f and having that mile pace suggests he might not see out this trip. He’s also drawn in stall 4 which is another reason I'm happy to take him on.

Deakin represents last year’s winning trainer, Joseph O'Brien, and he was a neck behind Crystal Black over 10f last time out. Unlike Crystal Black, he’s very much proven over this trip and should have a good chance of reversing that form here considering the extra trip and also the fact he’s drawn in stall 21 (will be 18 after the reserves come out). He’s unproven on fast ground but has coped fine with good and looks a likely player.

Behind Crystal Black and Deakin last time out was Safecracker and he looks overpriced at 16/1 or so. He’s proven over this longer trip and, crucially, is also proven on fast ground. His run style isn’t ideal for the round course but I wouldn’t be surprised if he too reverses form with Crystal Black.

The home challenge is headed by Shadow Dance, a Roger Varian-trained 4yo who hasn’t run since finishing runner up in the Old Rowley Cup in October, traditionally one of the stronger 3yo races of the season (last year’s renewal has produced future winners yet again). Varian’s horses have generally been running to form first time out this season and Perotto had the same prep before finishing 3rd in Wednesday’s Royal Hunt Cup. He’s likely to be seen to best effect over further in future and I think he might end up poorly positioned so I’d be slightly again him here, but I fancy his chances of winning a decent 14f handicap before long.

La Yakel also reappears here after a break and, given he’s generally looked better over shorter and on softer turf, he is opposable from stall 1. Fairbanks and Sea King are both progressive and in form but stalls 2 and 6 could be a disadvantage for that pair. In any case, Fairbanks probably showed the handicapper too much when winning comfortably on his penultimate start, and Sea King might be better in smaller fields and when fresh.

Bague D’Or was one I liked for the Copper Horse earlier in the week but the main angle with him is his record over 14f on fast ground. Back in trip, I’m far less keen on him.

In summary, I think there is a good chance we see an Irish one-two in this year's Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes. I’m pretty keen on Ethical Diamond and I’m not put off by his price. Deakin is my clear next best and I might even have a little go on the forecast/exacta. I can see Shadow Dance and Safecracker finishing well from off the pace but they might be at a tactical disadvantage.


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5.05 Sandringham Stakes (1m, Class 2 handicap, 3yo fillies)

Presented by Josh Wright from "Racing To Profit"

These Royal Ascot handicaps do not get any easier and unfortunately for me it is not the strongest of trends races, not against the sort of pointers I use anyway.

However, it should be noted that the market has been some sort of guide with 13 of the 16 winners sent off 11/1 or shorter ISP, those sent off bigger, 3/251, 25p. Having said that, between 2017-2020, three of the four races were won by 20/1+ shots, two trained by Charlie Fellowes, who isn’t represented this year. Over the last three renewals, those sent off 12/1+ are now 0/65, 6p. It would make all our jobs a little easier if the market continued to be some sort of guide, even though I do like the odd big priced-poke in such races.

Ignoring the market for the moment, there are a couple of pointers which can help. Horses that had two or three runs in the previous 90 days, who’d won or placed at least once on their last two starts and who’d run at Class 3+ at least once in their career, would have found 13/15 of the UK/Irish trained winners (Wesley Ward winning this in 2017, not included in these stats).

If that profile was to hold we'd be left with a long list of 12, but without any pointers to narrow it further other than hoping the market is once again a guide. Those twelve are:

Everlasting, Zaynab, Flight of Fancy, Fair Angellica, Battle Queen, Cat Ninja, Asian Daze, Arisaig, Soprano, Marcella, My Margie, Raknah

Looking at horses representing trainers who have won this race previously can also be useful.

- John & Thady Gosden: Cat Ninja, Mrs Morrell, D Fawless, Strutting
- Charlie (and Mark) Johnston: Arisaig
- Johnny Murtagh: Asian Daze

Cat Ninja, Asian Daze, and Arisaig are the three horses to hit my trends profile and which represent yards who know how to win this race.

I'm going for two each-way bets from the trends list, with as many places as you can find, and hope that once again it's the turn of an outsider to take this race.

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Arisaig - 25/1 - EW - Charlie Johnston's filly has been in decent form, and his dad knew what was required to win the Sandringham so hopefully that's rubbed off. Arisaig appeared to appreciate more patient tactics when last seen, having been ridden very aggressively at Newmarket the time before, but still running with credit. She showed an impressive change of gear at Lingfield and won like a horse on the upgrade. It was a performance to think that a fast run mile on this straight course with plenty of cover up the middle could be just what she wants. I always like the booking of Jamie Spencer on this track, where you can almost back him blind each way at the Royal Meeting for interest stakes; and he got the job done again yesterday with a 16/1 > 5/1 SP winner. He booted home 90/1 and 140/1 BFSP winners last year. Spencer will switch Arisaig off, get her in a rhythm and allow her to finish her race - I'd like to think that may be good enough to run into the places here, and who knows after that? Evidently she needs to step up again, but she's going the right way and her relative experience could be worth plenty here.

Soprano - 25/1 - EW - George Boughey's filly has been highly tried in her career to date - straight into Group 3s and Listed contests after her Newmarket maiden win - and this is her handicap debut having finished her juvenile season 'winning' her side in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes. She's been running with credit, but often running on in small fields with the leaders having set sail for home. It's her first attempt at a mile, and trying such a trip here is never ideal, but that's built into the price and is arguably a reason for a jolt of improvement. Like Arisaig, she may relish this strong pace, being covered up and running through tiring horses. She's related to a few milers on her dam side, so fingers crossed she appreciates the extra distance. Billy Loughnane was on the scoresheet on Day 1 and I'm hoping he'll be patient and try and thread his way through. The yard is in fine form also. Soprano has a touch of class and if seeing out the trip can hopefully grab a place at worst. As always, if you can grab a place, you can win, so fingers crossed.

Predicting any draw bias on this straight track appears impossible and so far this week it appears to have been riding fairly, more a case of where the sustained pace comes from. These two will have the option of staying up the middle, though Jamie could go low if he wishes and Billy could go high if wanted, so all bases covered there.

It could be the market has this right again, Indelible stepping out of maiden/novice company, but she does look very short to my eyes. Ralph Beckett is 0/10, 0p in the race also, which wouldn't fill me with confidence if wading in, but maybe she's just a cut above these - the market suggests so and given how good Ralph is generally, and especially with fillies, he will surely win this at some point.

I could name ten more horses and get nowhere near the winner, it's that sort of contest! However, Arisaig and Soprano are two lively outsiders who look overpriced to my eyes. Some bookies are paying as far down as eight places, which could help! Good luck with any bets.


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5.40 King Edward VII Stakes (1m4f, Group 2, 3yo colts & geldings)

Presented by Gavin Priestley's "Festival Trends" service

For the purposes of the trends we'll overlook the result from 2020 because, due to Covid, the Derby was actually run after Royal Ascot that year.

Traditionally sandwiched in the middle of the Epsom and Irish Derby's the 'Ascot Derby' is a pale shadow of either of those Group 1's, and the Epsom winner hasn't shown up here in a very long time although the Derby second did run, and win, last year. In fact, five of the last seven winners had their last start at Epsom where they had finished 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 10th (twice).

This year we have just two Derby runners taking part: Voyage, who was actually first past the post at Epsom but did so without a jockey having stumbled and unseated Pat Dobbs shortly after leaving the starting stalls, and Macduff who was quietly fancied for the race but pulled too hard and never got himself into a challenging position.

So, as is usual for the King Edward VII we have a field made up of a couple of also rans from Epsom, a few that missed it for one reason or another, a number of lesser lights from the O'Brien stable, a couple of winners stepping up from novice company and a few trainers tilting at windmills hoping to pick up some black type and place money. We do also have a couple of French raiders to spice things up this year, however, including the 5th from the Prix du Jockey Club.

The trends say we need a run as a 2yo, 1-3 seasonal runs, 2-7 career starts and the most recent within the last 12-56 days in a class 1-3 race where they finished in the first four (unless it was the Derby). All of the last nine winners were rated 103+ and, interestingly, 13 of the last 17 winners had yet to win a Group race. It also hasn't paid to get too fancy odds wise recently with four of the last five favourites winning and eight of the last nine winners returning 7/1 or shorter.

We can knock a few out on the trends for one reason or another but there are still plenty of the field that seem to tick all the boxes so I'm simply going to go with that recent trend regarding the Epsom runners and side with the horse that was down the field in the Derby.

MACDUFF did well as a 2yo and rounded off his season with a 4th in the Royal Lodge before shaping with promise in the Classic Trial at Sandown on his seasonal debut. He was a staying on second there behind Arabian Crown and, on the back of that run, he was nibbled at ante post at big prices for the Derby and was eventually sent off at 14/1. Taking a keen hold he never really got going and raced in rear throughout to come home a disappointing 13th of the 16 runners. Ralph Beckett now reaches for the first time cheekpieces in the hope they'll help settle him (Macduff not Beckett!) and I'm willing to give him another chance based on his earlier form. He wouldn't be the first horse to fail to handle Epsom before winning here, and he does seem a big price on what he had achieved before Derby day.



6.15 Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes (5f, Class 2 handicap, 3yo)

Preview by David Massey

Pace. It’s important. We’re always told “pace yourself”, whether that’s life in general, or you’re on a three-day bender over a bank holiday weekend. (Please drink responsibly.) Without a certain amount of pace, we’d never get to where we want to go. And if it’s over five furlongs at Royal Ascot, you arguably need a bucketful of it, and that’s what this field has. And in spades, too. Buckets and spades...

Wherever you look here, there’s pace: seven of the nine runners drawn in single figures have led at some point in their last three runs, four from the middle and five from those drawn 20 and above. That’s pretty much half the field that like a view of the front, and unless one of them is an Art Power in disguise - remember him back in 2020, they came here instead of the Commonwealth Cup and he absolutely took them apart with a devastating display of front-running - I cannot help but think this will suit something that can travel in midfield and come through late to win it.

Step forward Blue Storm, who has already taken one big handicap this season after winning the 3yo Dash at Epsom last time out, reversing form with three of those that had finished in front of him at Chester on his seasonal reappearance the time before. He was nicely on top at Epsom late, and this stiffer track should suit even better. A 6lb rise for that is fair, he’s now proven himself in a full field, he’ll travel well in centre pack and has the strength late to play a part. He ticks a lot of boxes for a 14-1 chance, for me, and heads up my list.

Fantasy Master hit the frame in this back in 2021 for Mick Appleby and his Shagraan has a similar sort of profile. You’d be hard pressed to say he was unlucky against Equity Law at Sandown two starts back but I was impressed with the way he travelled there and, once he did find the gaps, he stayed on well for second. I thought at the time this might be the race for him after that effort. He did nothing to dissuade me when third to James’s Delight at Newmarket last time, form that’s already working out, and I think he can reverse placings with second home Two Tribes if given a more patient ride today. Mick seems to have rejuvenated the horse after he left Clive Cox, and I suspect he’s had this race in mind for some time. Stall 19 gives him options, too.

Speaking of Clive Cox, his Symbology is worth a mention at a huge price as well. The negatives aren’t hard to find - she’s not shown much in two starts this year, although in her defence, she’d probably have needed her first start of the year in the Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury after nine months away from the track, and then she got no cover at the weekend when well held in the Scurry Stakes. So, yes, you have to be forgiving, but here’s the figures bit - Clive Cox, when running his handicappers within seven days of their last run, is 9-46, which is pretty good on its own, but even better when the expected winners was just over six.

There’s a lot to take on trust and ideally I’d have preferred another furlong, but at 66-1 we don’t have to pay a lot to find out whether she can bounce back to form on a track for which she’s already shown a liking. (In fact, she’s the only horse in the whole field to have finished in the frame at Ascot previously. Another little plus…)


And that, dear reader, is that. 28 races covered by seven writers, six of them guests, across four days; and a great smattering of winners already in their midst. Thank you for making a part of your Royal Ascot 2024 experience and, if you like what we do and are not yet a member of our multi-award winning Gold racecards and form tools service, you can take it for a spin for as little as £1 at this link.

Thanks again, and be lucky.

p.s. What did you think of the previews this week? Did you enjoy them? And what was your personal highlight of the week so far? Please leave a comment below and let us know

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5 replies
  1. whitestar4444
    whitestar4444 says:

    The Ascot previews have been superb. They have been a mornings entertainment in themselves and the results have provided the cherries on the cake. Many thanks to all contributors and I hope it all happens again next year.

  2. RomJim
    RomJim says:

    Excellent set of pieces. Great approach ans shows how professional analysts tackle the task. Good way of handling big meetings
    Thanks to all the contributors.

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