Caravaggio leads the market in the Commonwealth Cup.

Good Day for Favourite Backers at Royal Ascot?

Caravaggio leads the market in the Commonwealth Cup.

We drew a blank on Thursday, with some painful seconds and thirds. Friday looks to provide some good betting opportunities and it is onwards and upwards.

2.30 – Albany Stakes (Group 3) 6 Furlongs

The Albany Stakes is always an intriguing affair. It is a race over 6 furlongs for high class 2-year-old fillies. The majority of these runners will make up into milers next season, but at this stage of their career, the stiff 6f at Ascot is perfect. Although there are a number of last time out winners in the field, the market has decided that there is a clear favourite and that horse is Alpha Centauri. The Mrs John Harrington trained 2 year old daughter of Mastercraftsman is two from two and she has the best raw form in the field. There are plenty of indicators which suggest this filly will improve with racing, and she can be supported at odds of +250 with Bet365.

Alpha Centauri has clearly always impressed at home, as she went off a strong market leader on debut at Naas. Made all that day and won with the minimum of fuss. Stepped up to Listed company next time out and travelled beautifully throughout the contest. There was one moment when an A P O’Brien runner came up close to her, but Harrington’s filly eventually stretched away in the final furlong. She is a big, unfurnished type who will most certainly be seen to best effect as a 3 year old, and there was definitely some greenness still there when the jockey pressed the button. That race only had 5 runners, and due to her stride length and the way she travels, the big field and stiff 6 furlongs should suit perfectly as she is liable to get a strong gallop to chase.

The American horse Fairyland is prominent in the market and is likely to make her presence felt early. She gagged up over 4.5 furlongs on debut and is highly likely to be the fastest horse in the line up, so will trade shorter in running early. It is a question of whether they can catch this filly in the closing stages, but we believe Alpha Centauri has the class to do so.

3.05 – King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) 12 Furlongs

Sir Michael Stoute was unlucky with a few of his horses yesterday, and he has a great chance of hitting the winners enclosure in the King Edward VII Stakes with his progressive 3 year old Crystal Ocean. This horse finished third in the Dante last time out, recording an RPR of 111 and he looks as if the extra 2 furlongs will benefit him. He can be backed at odds of +250  again with Bet365.

Crystal Ocean went off as favourite on debut last autumn and was narrowly beaten. He returned at Nottingham on fast ground over 10 furlongs in April and won in facile fashion. Went to the Dante and became outpaced before staying on strongly late in the day. Being by Sea The Stars, he is likely to improve with racing and for the longer trip. Could eventually make into a Group One runner and is a good bet at the price.

3.40 – Commonwealth Cup (Group 1) 6 Furlongs

We are supported the first three favourites on Friday of Royal Ascot and make no apology for it. The third of our market leaders is the A P O’Brien trained Caravaggio. O’Brien’s superstar is unbeaten in five runs and posted his best figure last time out when bolting up on seasonal reappearance at Naas in a Group 3.

Caravaggio was a strong fancy for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot this time last year, and he delivered an extraordinary performance. Drawn on the wrong side, he eventually switched and powered down the middle of the track to win comfortably. Followed that up at the Curragh in a Group One before being put away for the winter. O’Brien normally leaves something for his runners to work on and therefore Caravaggio’s reappearance victory at Naas looks all the better – there could be more to come. The horse is likely to sit midfield before being unleashed in the final 2 furlongs.

There are some rivals from the Godolphin ownership, but they will have to step forward and be very special to beat Caravaggio. Take the -110  on offer with Coral and Ladbrokes.

4.20 – Coronation Stakes (Group 1) 8 Furlongs

There has been a standout performer in the fillies 3 year old division this year and that runner is the A P O’Brien trained Winter. After winning the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, she repeated the feat and secured the double by winning the Irish version at the Curragh. However, the horse is only available at prohibitive odds and we look elsewhere for a little value. That value comes in the John Gosden trained Dabyah.

Dabyah is three from four and she comes back into this race on the back of a two-month absence. Her last race was over 7 furlongs at Newbury and the horse made all under Frankie Dettori on fast ground. The step back up in trip should suit as the horse was running over 7/8 furlongs as a 2 year old and is likely to be stronger this time around. Gosden doesn’t wind his horses up for their seasonal reappearance so one has to expect plenty of improvement in terms of fitness. This filly is likely to pop out and try to make all and she can be supported at +700  with William Hill and BetVictor. She will have a tough task in turning over Winter, but it isn’t impossible.

5.00 Ascot – Queen’s Vase (Group 2) 1 Mile 6 Furlongs

The Queen’s Vase is an open event this year and there are several horses who go in to the race with live chances. We do not have a very strong view on this contest, but think that the Andrew Balding trained Count Octave represents a little value at odds of +900  with Bet365. This Frankel colt is the highest rated runner in the field and the extra 2 furlongs might well unlock some further improvement.

ount Octave seems like a horse who will improve over time. He was third on debut last autumn over 9 furlongs at Goodwood but came back and won a maiden easily at Wolverhampton. Stepped up to Group 3 company last time out at Chester and the track seemed a little sharp – he only got going too late in the day but stayed on in eye-catching fashion. Balding likes to have a long-term strategy for his horses and this beautifully bred runner should be close to favourite for this race.

5.35 – Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (Class 2) 12 Furlongs

Mainstream might have been a frustrating runner for backers of the Sir Michael Stoute horse as he has finished in the frame in his last five starts without scoring, but conditions should suit on Friday and he can be backed at +500  with Ladbrokes.

The Queen will be desperate for a Royal Ascot winner and Mainstream’s last performance will give her hope that she can have one. After being frustrating last season, the horse was gelded and he returned with a career best performance at Newmarket on seasonal debut. Found trouble in running more than once and eventually ran on strongly to finish third. A big field at Ascot should suit and although this hold up horse will need a decent pace and luck in running, he has the right man aboard in Ryan Moore. If he wins, it won’t be by far, but odds of 6.0 are more than fair.

Tips Summary

14:30 Ascot – Alpha Centauri to win
Friday 23rd June
Odds:  +250

15:05 Ascot – Crystal Ocean to win
Friday 23rd June
Odds:  +250

15:40 Ascot – Caravaggio to win
Friday 23rd June
Odds:  -110

16:20 Ascot – Dabyah to win
Friday 23rd June
Odds:  +700

17:00 Ascot – Count Octave to win
Friday 23rd June
Odds:  +900

17:35 Ascot – Mainstream to win
Friday 23rd June
Odds:  +500

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