Royal Ascot Day 4 – June 23, 2017
The fourth day of Royal Ascot begins with the Albany Stakes, a 6f event for two-year-old fillies, and in this race is what many are calling their ‘banker’ of the whole meeting.
The filly in question is Alpha Centauri, a strapping daughter of Mastercraftsman, who won her first two races in dramatic style.
She dwarfed her rivals in the parade ring on her debut at Naas in May and put them to the sword on the course, powering away from them in the closing stages.
Jessica Harrington, the filly’s trainer who is better known for her National Hunt horses (she won the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year with Sizing John) couldn’t contain her excitement after that debut success and reported “She’s the size of some of my jumpers in the yard, and if she is as good as we think she is, then Royal Ascot must be on the cards.”
To check that she was as good as they thought she was, they entered her next in the Listed Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies’ Sprint Stakes towards the end of May, and she once again toyed with the opposition, beating the Aidan O’Brien filly Actress by an impressive five lengths.
Jockey Colm O’Donoghue had this to say to the waiting journalists after that victory:
“She’s such a big girl and she covers so much ground that everything feels like slow-motion to her. For every stride she takes, other fillies are taking two strides.”
Bookmakers introduced her as the 2/1 favourite for the Albany after that display, but that price didn’t last long, and the best on offer now is 13/8.
Chances are she will be even shorter come the day, and it would no surprise if she was sent off odds-on.
King Edward VII Stakes
The second race on day four is the King Edward VII Stakes and this is a race normally targeted by trainer Sir Michael Stoute.
He has won it seven times, with Shareef Dancer (83), Saddlers Hall (91), Foyer (94), Balakheri (02), Papal Bull (06), Hillstar (13) and Across the Sea last year.
Bookmakers are aware of his love for this race and have installed his Crystal Ocean as the 7/2 favourite.
Second favourite is Mirage Dancer (5/1), another trained by Stoute and he appears to have a stranglehold on the race yet again.
The Commonwealth Cup is the third race on the card and this event has only recently been added to the Royal program.
It was introduced in 2015 as part of a set of changes to the program of sprint horse races in Europe. The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, run over the same course and distance at the same meeting, was closed to three-year olds at the same time. The race was subsequently named the Commonwealth Cup, and the Buckingham Palace Stakes was removed from the Royal Ascot meeting to make room for this new race.
It has Group 1 status and was won last year by Quiet Reflection, who became the first three-year old filly to win Champion Sprinter honours at the Cartier awards.
This year’s race has Caravaggio as the even money favourite but behind him at 5/2 in the market is Harry Angel, who has recently been bought by Godolphin.
The impressive Sandy Lane Stakes winner stays with trainer Clive Cox but Godolphin declined to disclose the sum they paid to purchase the three-year old, who broke the course record at Haydock.
John Ferguson, Godolphin’s then chief executive and racing manager, said about Harry Angel, who has been first or second in all four starts:
The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes is the fifth race and is traditionally a tricky race for punters, as only one favourite has obliged in the past 26 years.
The full field for this race has yet to be finalised and more will be known nearer the meeting.
The Queen’s Vase brings the fourth day to a close, and this is a race rich in tradition.
It was first run in 1838 and the winner received a gold vase from Queen Victoria.
The race was initially confined to horses aged three, but it was opened to older horses in 1840. Its title was changed to the King’s Vase in 1903, and it was given its current name in 1960.
The 2013 running was renamed the ’Queen’s Vase in Memory of Sir Henry Cecil’ in tribute to the eminent trainer who died on 11 June 2013. Sir Henry had trained the winners of more races than anyone at the Royal meeting (75), including eight winners of the Queen’s Vase.
He was also the trainer of the legendary Frankel.