The Commonwealth Cup, a relatively new race for three-year-old sprinters over six furlongs, is the first of two Group One races on day four of Royal Ascot.
Invincible Army won the key course and distance prep race for today, the Group Three Pavilion Stakes, in May. He is a leading contender although he was narrowly denied on his subsequent run by another well fancied horse tomorrow, Sands Of Mali, in the Group Two Sandy Lane at Haydock.
In a field of improving young sprinters, Equilateral can be fancied to continue owner Khalid Abdullah’s excellent week and there is a fascinating American contender in Gidu in the race, for Todd Pletcher. Last year’s Queen Mary winner, Heartache, would be another to keep an eye on.
The traditional highlight on Friday is the Coronation Stakes over a mile for three-year-old fillies.
The raison d’etre of the race is to crown the best female miler of the Classic generation and that looks assured with the winners of the 1,000 Guineas, Billesdon Brook, French 1,000 Guineas, Teppal and Irish 1,000 Guineas, Alpha Centauri all in the line-up.
However, it is possible that the favourite may end up being Aidan O’Brien’s Clemmie, who was Europe’s Champion two-year-old filly. A setback kept her off the track until her reappearance in the Irish Guineas where she was understandably rusty. She will be fitter tomorrow and confidence is high that she is ready to do herself justice.
It is a vintage Coronation Stakes, with all sorts of possibilities, including the French Guineas runner-up, Coeur De Beaute and recent impressive York winner, Threading.
The final Group One race of the week is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs, on Saturday.
There is an unusually small field of 12 for the race, which in fact reflects the quality - often there are a lot of speculative runners but those at the top of the market are so strong this year that many have stayed at home.
Harry Angel is many people’s idea of the best sprinter in the world, although he has yet to win at Ascot, unlike The Tin Man, who simply loves the place and is looking for a third Group One win over course and distance.
Redkirk Warrior represents Australia, which has a strong record in the Ascot sprints. He has won twice at Group One level in Australia this year, latterly with Merchant Navy, now with Aidan O’Brien, in third. Redkirk Warrior is especially effective on a straight track, and goes well fresh.
Bound For Nowhere, fourth in the Commonwealth Cup last year, runs for the USA and Wesley Ward was talking of him as his best chance of the meeting earlier in the week – his Shakertown form has worked out extremely well and he is a big player in a truly international contest.
The Royal Ascot Racing Club has the consistent Projection in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes following a very decent run behind The Tin Man at Windsor. His form from last year behind this year’s King’s Stand Stakes winner, Blue Point, demonstrates he has every right to be in this line up.