Day 4 of Royal Ascot dawns – so what did we learn from yesterday:

  1. Draw bias can be completely reversed by selective watering
  2. Saddles should be fixed firmly in place before running in race

There you go, all the excuses out of the way (if you didn’t see the race, Naughty Or Nice had the slipping saddle) and we still managed a good winner with Benbatl.

Today’s ‘highlight’ at 4.20 is the Coronation Stakes, which has attracted a fleld of just seven and will be won by Winter at 1-2.

The afternoon starts with the Albany Stakes at 2.30, a Group 3 over 6 furlongs and, mercifully, this is the only race today in which the draw might play a part.

Worthy favourite for the race is Jessica Harrington’s Alpha Centauri at 5-2. This grey daughter of Mastercraftsman has won both her races by wide margins, the latest being a Listed contest at Naas last month. Yet to come off the bridle and drawn in Trap 1, Colm O’Donoghue’s ride will take some beating and a win bet is advised.

With a field of 20 going to post, it may be prudent to have a saver on a high drawn runner, so a small e/w on Take Me With You from stall 20 is recommended.

At 3.05 the King Edward VII Stakes takes place over twelve furlongs and here we have one of the bets of the day in Sir Michael’s Crystal Ocean. A winner of a Nottingham maiden on reappearance, this colt stayed on takingly into third in the Dante Stakes to finish just behind the aforementioned Benbatl and stepping up two furlongs today should be the making of him. With the ultra reliable Mr Atzeni to do the steering, the 9-4 on offer should be lapped up.

The eagerly awaited clash of the 3-y-o sprinters happens at 3.40 in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, when the unbeaten Caravaggio, Harry Angel and Blue Point cross swords in what should be one of the races of the entire meeting. With just 12 runners and the stalls in the centre, the draw shouldn’t play a part and the bookmakers have Aiden O’Brien’s charge as 10-11 favourite, with ‘Harry’ at 100-30 and Blue Point at 6-1.

The betting suggest that Harry Angel should reverse last time out’s form with Blue Point, but there are no lines to compare their achievements with those of Caravaggio.

With Wesley Ward’s runner Bound For Nowhere (10-1) reportedly beating Lady Aurelia at home, maybe this is just one to watch and savour.

The Group2 Queen’s Vase at 5.00, upped in Grade and downed in distance this year throws up our next decent wager in Desert Skyline. David Elsworth’s gelding has shown it has trained on well from 2 to 3 and finished strongly over 10 furlongs at Epsom 3 weeks ago off a handicap mark of 98. This horse looks all about stamina and today’s 14 furlongs should be right up its strasse, so at 7-1 a decent each way punt is the call. A small each way ‘saver’ on Dermot Weld’s representative Haripour at 10-1 is also advised.

And so to the only handicap on the card, the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at 5.35, which has a field of 19 and a trip of 12 furlongs. Our main choice for this race is the ‘laid out’ Sixties Groove, trained by Jeremy Noseda, which had a spin over a mile at Epsom 3 weeks ago, surprise, surprise finishing strongly from the rear. Already a winner last season over 11 furlongs and unlucky when 4th over 12, protecting the handicap mark looked the name of the game and the policy can pay off at an each way price of 6-1.

Roger Varian has a strong hand in this race and his two main representatives Wadigor and Appeared  should also be backed to win at 13-2 & 7-1 respectively.

(“What’s that headline all abart, then?” “Crystal Ocean – geddit?”)

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