The flat season is back, and Royal Ascot has gone ahead as planned – well, with the exception of no spectators, and several safety measures in place due to Covid-19, of course! Alterations aside, it has still been a thrilling meeting thus far, and by looking at tomorrow’s racecards and tips, it seems the excitement is set to continue, as we go into the latter stages of the week. With that in mind, let’s take a look at Friday’s action!
13:15: Palace Of Holyroodhouse Handicap – Class 2 (3yo 0-105) 5f
The Palace of HolyroodHouse Handicap gets the penultimate day of this year’s meeting at Royal Ascot underway, and it’s Art Power who is the early favourite out of the 22 entries. The three-year-old took Newcastle by storm at the beginning of June, winning the Novices Stakes (Div II) by five-and-a-half lengths over Electric Mistress – adding another 5f victory to his form after a win in the Novices Stake at York in October – which he also won by five lengths.
13:50: Albany Stakes – Class 1 (2yo) (Group 3) (Fillies) 6f
Ryan Moore, who has won the top jockey accolade at Ascot in eight of the last 10 years, could land himself yet another victory of the week as he rides favourite Mother Earth in the Albany Stakes. The Aidan O’Brien-trained filly has raced only once before – which was at Navan last week, when she finished second in the Fillies Maiden, almost two lengths behind victor Frenetic.
However, second-favourite Flying Aletha – who won comfortably at Gulfstream Park in May – and third-favourite Setarhe – who also picked up a victory at Newmarket earlier this month – will provide stiff competition for Mother Earth.
14:25: Norfolk Stakes – Class 1 (Group 2) (2yo) 5f
The Norfolk Stakes, which is raced over five furlongs, will see Italian jockey Frankie Dettori climb on board his first favourite of the day. The Mark Johnston-trained Eye Of Heaven is the early outright favourite, after a narrow win in the Stallions Novice Stakes at Newmarket earlier this month. However, Golden Pal, who will be jockeyed by Andrea Atzeni, along with Moore, on board Lipizzaner, will be hot on his tail. Whilst Oisin Murphy could also pinch a victory on board slight outsider The Lir Jet – who won the Novice Auction Stakes at Yarmouth earlier this month.
15:00: Hardwicke Stakes – Class 1 (Group 2) (4yo+) 1m4f
It looks set to be another victory for Moore as he rides massive early favourite Anthony Van Dyck in the fourth race of the day. Despite having not won in six outings, the O’Brien-trained four-year-old – whose last appearance at Newmarket resulted in a second-placed finish – is as short as 7/4 to win the Hardwicke Stakes. The Irish thoroughbred’s nearest competition is Roger Varian-trained Defoe – who is as big as 8/1!
15:35: Commonwealth Cup – Class 1 (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (3yo) 6f
The 17 runners have now been confirmed for day four’s Commonwealth Cup, and it is the unbeaten Pierre Lapin who is the market favourite. The three-year-old, who will be ridden by Atzeni, beat Visible Charm by three-and-a-half lengths in the Novices Stakes at Haydock, last May, before following up with another win at Newbury, in the Mill Reef Stakes, back in September. Meanwhile, Dettori will be hoping for back-to-back Commonwealth Cups, as he rides joint-second favourite Kimari – who has won three of her last four races.
16:10: Queen’s Vase – Class 1 (Group 2) (3yo) 1m6f
Nothing separates market leaders Al Dabaran, Berkshire Rocco and Santiago – who are all 4/1 – in the Queen’s Vase – which is the second last, and longest, race of the day. The former, who will be jockeyed by William Buick, along with Berkshire Rocco – who will be ridden by Murphy – both haven’t managed to bag a win in their last two outings, despite Al Dabaran being a heavy favourite in each.
Meanwhile, Santiago – who will be Moore’s fifth ride of the day – won his last outing by just over a length in the Median Auction Maiden at Listowel last September. Born With Pride and Nobel Prize – who will be ridden by Dettori – are narrowly behind the market leaders at 5/1 and 11/2, respectively.
16:40: Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes – Class 2 (3yo+ 0-105) 1m4f
The David Simcock-trained Chestnut Gelding, Durston, is the favourite for the last race of the penultimate day. The four-year-old was almost seven lengths off the pace in his last outing as he finished third at Newbury last August, whilst Durston’s last wins came back-to-back at Doncaster and Chester, respectively, last June. Second favourite Hereby – who will be ridden by Harry Bentley – is in fine form, winning all four of his last four races – including a victory by a length-and-a-half at Ascot last October in the Murless Stakes.