The winners of the English, Irish and French 1,000 Guineas will go head to head in what promises to be a hotly-contested Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The trends for today’s (Friday) feature race favour Richard Hannon’s surprise Newmarket heroine BILLESDON BROOK, as the form rates much higher compared to what TEPPAL achieved when winning the French 1,000 Guineas at Longchamp.
The Irish version went the way of the Jessica Harrington-trained ALPHA CENTURI who heads the market at 7/2, but the one that makes most appeal is the Aidan O’Brien-trained CLEMMIE despite her finishing only ninth at The Curragh.
She was the leading two-year-old filly of 2017, winning three times over six furlongs but is bred to shine at a mile and looks sure to take all the beating if coming on as expected for last month’s return.
The Commonwealth Cup has been a welcome addition to the Flat racing calendar, and this year’s renewal looks one of the most open yet, but the 7/1 about INVINCIBLE ARMY looks attractive.
He made a winning start in the Pavilion Stakes over C&D last month by one and a half lengths from EQTIDAAR and lost little in defeat when beaten a nose by SANDS OF MALI at Haydock last time and can reverse the form.
Derby trials are worth a second look for clues to unlocking the The King Edward VII Stakes where late developers tend to dominate, and OLD PERSIAN fits the bill for the boys in blue.
Godolphin’s son of Dubawi was competitive in Listed company and looks primed for this step up in grade and distance.
On Saturday Royal Ascot record-breaking trainer Sir Michael Stoute can add to his impressive haul with his proven middle-distance Group performer CRYSTAL OCEAN in the Hardwicke Stakes. Given his prowess with older horses it’s no surprise the Newmarket trainer, who broke Henry Cecil’s record on Wednesday, already has 10 victories in this race.
The highlight of the last day is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes where Australian raider REDKIRK WARRIOR can emulate Black Caviar, who landed the race back in 2012.
The lightly-raced seven-year-old started out life as Redkirk with Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas in Newmarket and won his first two races over 1m 2f – including one at Ascot – before developing into a world-class sprinter.
He has reportedly been impressing gallop watchers in Newmarket and if he brings his best form to the table can account for HARRY ANGEL and MERCHANT NAVY at a tasty 5/1.
Back down to earth at Pontefract on Sunday, BECKY THE THATCHER can make it a hat-trick of wins when lining up in the long-distance contest at 4pm.
Fitting cheekpieces back in April has proven to be a masterstroke by handler Micky Hammond and she remains ahead of the game.
In the feature Listed race at 3.30 TITI MAKFI is as tough as teak and as the top-rated runner with a handicap mark of 101 should take all the holding. She’s back running over the same 1m 4f trip as her previous Listed win but it’s worth noting that she has an entry in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot tomorrow (Friday), and is she does run there side with ALWAYSANDFOREVER, who hosed up for Luca Cumani at Windsor last time out.
Also expect big runs from COTE D’AZUR (3pm) for Les Eyre, who started out training in Mirfield, and ARAQEEL.
• CARRIGILL’S NAP (Stake returned as a free bet if selection does not finish in the top 4): LIBRISA BREEZE, Saturday, Ascot, 4.20.
• AUGUR’S BEST BET: ARAQEEL, Sunday, Pontefract 5.00.