1:15 Palace Of Holyrood Handicap
A race that contains a potentially exciting horse in Art Power. He is deserving of favouritism with the easing ground of no concern, but I could not advise anyone to back him at 5/2 and at a far bigger price I prefer the claims of Keep Busy. A daughter of 12-time winning Look Busy, she has (like her dam) already shown an affinity for soft ground conditions and arrives race fit. She seems to thrive on regular racing and put distance between herself and the rest on Saturday at Sandown when chasing home a potentially very smart winner. She will be finishing to good effect when the others have cried enough and could be a first Royal Ascot winner for the 2nd generation of the Fallon family, her young jockey taking off a valuable 3lb with his claim.
Selection: Keep Busy each-way
1:50 Albany Stakes
The one horse in here to have been exposed to easy conditions, Golden Melody ran out a ready winner of a small field event at Haydock, not fully extended to run down a tenacious and heavily backed rival. She hails from a family laden with stamina and soft ground performers and appeals enormously given the question marks surrounding so many of her rivals. Setarhe similarly has plenty of stamina and soft ground performers in her pedigree and should relish a test of stamina at this trip, she looks well worth saving on.
Selection: Golden Melody; Saver: Setarhe
2:25 Norfolk Stakes
Another race filled with question marks on the ground, Lipizanner the one with exposure to such conditions. There has been a significant weight of cash for favourite Eye Of Heaven in recent days, collapsing an already skinny price in half. This came before the rain hit Berkshire and I am far from convinced he will relish the changing underfoot conditions. I have no such concerns for Imperial Force, who raced over 6 furlongs on his Nemwarket debut and has a pedigree offering distinct hope for improvement on this ground, his half brother a heavy ground winner and his sire producing a good number of soft ground performers.
Selection: Imperial Force
3:00 Hardwicke Stakes
Coolmore said at the start of the season that Anthony Van Dyke would be steered away from a soft surface this season following his 2019 King George flop. That means at best he is unbackable at the prices and could easily be scratched. The money has come for Elarqam after his Haydock form was franked by the Wednesday win of Lord North and he handles soft ground well, but he is stretching out to a new trip here and that must be a concern given the ground placing extra emphasis on stamina. Defoe looks a big price given he took this contest last year, he has presumably been overlooked given his dismal showing behind Anthony Van Dyke on his Newmarket reappearance, but he paid the price for trying to track the high class, runaway winner Ghaiyyath and has a very moderate record when fresh. His record on soft ground reads 1,1,1,2 and has winning form over a good bit further, the stars seem to be aligning for a repeat win.
3:35 Commonwealth Cup
A race which has emerged into one of the key contests of the meeting. Perhaps not the highest standard renewal this year, but extremely competitive, the market headed by the unbeaten Pierre Lapin who continues to be the subject of bullish gallops reports form Newmarket. The easing ground is a source of concern though, as it is for the other ante-post mover Kimari, who represents American trainer Wesley Ward. Golden Horde has the most solid juvenile form in the book, his Prix Morny 3rd reading very well and confirming his ability to act on easy going. I also like the claims of Royal Crusade with Godolphin having any number of eminently eligible candidates for this contest. All 3 of his runs came over 7 furlongs last year, but he doesn’t look short of speed and ran better than his 3 length beating shows on his final start of 2019, held up in a slowly run race. He is double the price of Wooded here but holds him on that form.
Selections: Golden Horde & Royal Crusade
4:10 Queen’s Vase
A pattern winner on her sole start at 2 and well backed over the winter for the Oaks, Born With Pride was a major flop on her Kempton reappearance, but she fell out of the stalls and ended up in a bad position in a race not run to suit. The form has worked out very well and having had a relatively easy race she can improve a bundle up a full half mile in trip and with the ground conditions having come very much in her favour. From a fine, strong staying family she will take plenty of beating here. I had Nobel Prize earmarked for this at the 5 day stage, but as much as he is a heavy ground winner and promises to relish a stamina test his brothers Highland Reel & Idaho preferred ground no worse than good to soft.
Selection: Born With Pride (Nobel Prize if ground no worse than good to soft)
Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes
Peter Chapple-Hyam might have a heavily depleted string these days, but the flash of genius remains, and his small string are in superb form at present. Deja has been prepared for this race and the ground has come right for him just in time. A cracking, inside draw is another positive for his claims and despite being 5 he is totally unexposed after just a handful of racecourse starts. Evidently hard to train but highly talented, connections patience deserves to be rewarded with a big win. Medal Winner won with a lot in hand on his Newcastle reappearance and a 6lb rise in the handicap looks pretty favourable, breeding suggests he should improve both for the 2 furlong step up in trip and a return to easier ground given his stout, French pedigree.
Selections: Deja & Medal Winner