Day 4 of the Royal Ascot meeting saw us record a third successive day of profit, with Art Power winning the opener impressively, and Golden Horde landing the feature Commonwealth Cup in fine style. That left us +3.48pts on the day, and +20.47pts over the past three days. Fingers crossed we can keep the P/L increasing on Day 5, which features three Group 1 races; the Coronation Stakes, St James’s Palace Stakes, and Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Best of luck if you’re getting involved, and be sure to give me a follow on Twitter @JakePriceRacing for updates throughout the day, and where I will share links to any future articles. Before we get into the selections, thanks for all your support so far this week – let’s hope we can end on a high!
13:50 – Coventry Stakes (Group 2) 2yo – 6f
As I’ve already stated earlier on in the week, I’m only going to put a Horse up in a two-year-old race if they have really caught my eye – and that’s certainly the case with Roger Varian’s Dark Lion. This Dark Angel Colt was seriously well backed on his debut for the yard at Newmarket on the 4th June, being sent off the 2/1 favourite under David Egan. This 2yo was a bit green as you’d expect after leaving the stalls, and at the half way stage he had to squeeze between two horses to keep position. Running around and getting unbalanced in the dip when asked for his effort, Dark Lion didn’t have a clue what he was doing – but he stayed on nicely towards the line under a hands and heels ride to finish in fourth. The form is already looking quite strong with the 2nd that day Imperial Force running well to finish 3rd behind The Lir Jet in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes on Friday, so if Dark Lion has learnt from his debut run, then he should have a big each/way chance in the Coventry Stakes.
14:25 – Coronation Stakes (Group 1) 3yo – 1m
A Filly I’ve been really looking forward to seeing make her return to the track is Jessie Harrington’s Alpine Star, who looks like a proper Horse. This Filly made her debut at Leopardstown over 7f in July 2019, form which now looks extremely hot. Tracking the winner, Alpine Star ran with real promise to stick to her task and finish in third place. The winner that day was none other than subsequent impressive 1000 Guineas winner Love (111), with Soul Search (106) in second. With this really promising run under her belt, Alpine Star went to Galway to contest her second Maiden, running over 7f against the Colts. This Filly had to be chased along up the sweeping hill that day, but once she hit top gear she flew home to win by an impressive three-and-a-quarter lengths. The Horse back in second that day at Galway was Aidan O’Brien’s Santiago, who’s another Horse to have somewhat boosted the form by winning the Group 2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot on Friday – which although was over a completely different trip, still just shows that Alpine Star has a bit of class about her to win by so far.
Alpine Star was last seen on the track when running in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh in August 2019. Racing prominently under Sean Foley, Alpine Star made her move up the inside running rail to get past the leader Love (111), and showed a real game attitude to deny another Aidan O’Brien Filly in Petite Mustique (107). The fact that this Filly managed to reverse her Maiden form with both Soul Search and Love in Group 2 company clearly shows just how much she had improved, and the form looks extremely strong with both the English 1000 Guineas winner and Irish 1000 Guineas third (So Wonderful, 108) back in 4th/5th. The way Alpine Star won at the Curragh suggests that she will appreciate the step-up in trip to a mile at Ascot on Saturday, and she should have no issues with the ground, as it was described as yielding in Ireland that day. Alpine Star is of course a half-sister to Jessie Harrington’s ultra-impressive 2018 Coronation Stakes winner Alpha Centuari (123), but at this point in their respective careers Alpine Star has actually shown more – so I think she has a great chance of emulating her sibling here. With Irish Jockey’s not able to travel over, Jessie Harrington has gone straight to the top and booked Frankie Dettori for the ride – which clearly is another positive for this Filly.
15:00 – St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1) 3yo – 1m
Wichita ran a cracker in the 2000 Guineas to only be beaten a neck by Kameko, under a brilliant Frankie Dettori ride. Although he finished ahead of Pinatubo that day, I do wonder if the rattling quick ground and prominent tactics did help him that day. There were no real excuses for Pinatubo, but I am going to give him one more chance considering just how good his two-year-old form is. Wichita seemed to be fairly inconvenienced by the soft ground when the pair met in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October, whereas Pinatubo handled conditions fine. Similar comments apply to Pinatubo’s runs in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, and his scintillating performance in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh, where on both occasions the ground had received some rain. I also think that Pinatubo might actually be seen to better effect over a mile with a bend – with two of his best performances coming at those aforementioned tracks which feature a bend in their 7f course. He’s also won at Epsom and Wolverhampton, which again feature bends. Pinatubo clearly doesn’t have a problem with straight courses either having won the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot last season, but if the bend does find further improvement, then the length that he needs to find to beat Wichita based on the Guineas form doesn’t seem all that much. As I’ve said before, this is the last chance I’ll give Pinatubo to prove he has trained on, but he does have quite a bit in his favour here.
15:35 – Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group 1) 4yo+ – 6f
One Master has form on all kinds of ground, but most importantly she has enjoyed stepping back in trip recently. This Mare was tried over a mile after winning the 7f Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp in October 2018, and you can’t exactly say she ran a bad race over the longer trip – finishing 5th behind Expert Eye (119) in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile, finishing third in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last season, before then only beaten a neck in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket in July. Dropped back to 6½ furlongs at Deauville in August last season, One Master ran a cracker in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest. Held up by Pierre Charles-Boudot, this Fastnet Rock Mare tacked over from the nearside running rail to the center of the track in running, travelling kindly into the race. One Master quickened up well that day to stay on strongly, finishing a really good fifth behind Advertise (119), with recent winners Space Blues (115) and Spinning Memories (France) just ahead of her. Given a break of 63 days, One Master returned to Longchamp and once again won the 7f Prix de la Foret under Pierre Charles Boudot – keeping on well and always doing enough to beat City Light (117) by half-a-length. Fresh from another Group 1 victory, One Master took her chance in the Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot in October, back down to 6f. The ground was of course heavy that day, but One Master did extremely well to escape from a pocket of Horses, coming home strongly to finish second – just a length behind Donjuan Triumphant (118). Clearly the soft ground doesn’t inconvenience her as much as others, but she still beat the likes of Speak In Colours, Hello Youmzain, Khaadem, The Tin Man, Dream Of Dreams and Sands Of Mali out of sight that day – so it obviously was a top performance. If Ascot gets another sprinkling of rain on Friday evening to keep ‘soft’ in the going description for Saturday then this would clearly be a huge positive, but she’s still got a cracking chance even if it does dry up. James Doyle has been in good form this week, and he does well on hold-up horses like One Master.
16:10 – Wokingham Stakes (Class 2) 3yo+ 0-110 – 6f
I think I might have found one here at a massive price, as Mr Lupton looks to have strong claims in the Wokingham. This seven-year-old has been around the block in his career, progressing through Handicaps to contest Listed and Group races, and then dropping back down into Handicaps once again. Across the span of his career he’s won a Listed race at York and a Group 3 at Newbury (both 2018), but his biggest success to date came in the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh on his seasonal reappearance last May, where he beat Speak In Colours (110) comfortably. He went off the boil afterwards, with a 6th placed finish behind Romanised in the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes about the best he could conjure up – but clearly Mr Lupton struggled under his Group 2 penalty in races which were a bit out of his reach.
Mr Lupton was pitched into the Class 2 Ayr Gold Cup in September on his last run of 2019, running off a massive official rating of 110 and obviously having to carry top weight. He finished 20th that day (although to be fair he was only beaten 8L), but thankfully for connections it prompted the Handicapper to start dropping him back down the weights again. Mr Lupton made his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket on the 5th June, running in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes. Mr Lupton showed a lot of promise that day to finish 4th behind Oxted (112), just half-a-length behind Emaraaty Ana (104) and two-lengths ahead of Brando (115). Presumably this good run came about as he no longer had to carry the Group 2 penalty, but the way Mr Lupton kept on going to the line would lead you to believe that he still retains all his ability. Mr Lupton was dropped 3lbs for his poor run in the Ayr Gold Cup in September, but amazingly he has since been dropped a further 3lbs despite that decent effort at Newmarket – meaning he now has an official rating of 104! If you look back through Mr Lupton’s form, then you’ll find that his last winning mark in a Handicap was off 103, when winning a Class 2 Handicap at York in May 2018, beating none other than El Astronaute. That’s not Mr Lupton’s highest winning mark however, as this Son of Elnadim defied a rating of 107 at Newmarket in May 2017. Although this Richard Fahey charge may officially be 1lb higher than his last winning mark in this year’s Wokingham, he has the benefit of Connor Murtagh taking off a further 3lbs – meaning he runs from an effective rating of 101.
This new effective rating means that Mr Lupton is now rated 5lbs lower than when running in the Wokingham back in 2018, where he ran a good race under Tony Hamilton to finish in 8th, only beaten three-and-a-quarter lengths. Mr Lupton has shown a good account of himself on all three career starts at Ascot; the first of which coming when out of his depth in the 2016 Group 1 Sprint Stakes (9/13 to The Tin Man), the second that aforementioned solid effort in the 2018 Wokingham off 106, and the third when a neck second in the Listed Rous Stakes in October 2018. The latter of those efforts brings me onto my next point, in that Mr Lupton also has a good record on soft ground. His form on going described ‘Soft’ reads 35212, the latest of those efforts in that Listed race. Considering Richard Fahey has managed to shed 10lbs from his highest official rating of 111 last season, Mr Lupton looks a massive price in the Wokingham – especially as he will effectively be racing from 2lbs below his last winning Handicap mark. It’s also worth noting that the last time Mr Lupton’s official rating dropped 10lbs from a career high of 113, was when winning that York Handicap in 2018. Richard Fahey knows what it takes to win a Wokingham having won it with Baccarat in 2014, and this race has always been the target for Mr Lupton.
16:40 – Queen Alexandra Stakes (Class 2) 4yo+ – 2m5½f
We end the day with my strongest fancy, as Who Dares Wins looks a cut above these. This dual purpose Horse won a Grade 2 over fences at Kempton in February, but more importantly to his chances here he won the Northumberland Plate on the Flat last season, before then finishing a good 4th to Withhold in the Marsh Cup at Newbury in July (a short-head behind stablemate Coeur De Lion, who won the Ascot Stakes on Tuesday). Who Dares Wins went on to finish 4th behind Holdthasigreen (116), Call The Wind (115) and Dee Ex Bee (119) in the 2m4f Group 1 Prix du Cadran at Longchamp in October, before then having a crack at the Cesarewitch at Newmarket off a mark of 104. He finished a credible 7th that day, but his mark is probably just a bit too high for Handicaps now. As this is a conditions race and Who Dares Wins doesn’t have any penalties, he will get to carry 9st2lbs under Tom Marquand, meaning he will be getting weight from the likes of Fun Mac who is rated 22lbs below him. Who Dares Wins is rated 107, meaning he’s rated 3lbs clear of The Grand Visir, but he runs off level weights with that rival. Alan King has already won the 2m4f Ascot Stakes and 1m4f King George this week, and he can continue his fine run of form in staying races by winning the Queen Alexandra.