Keep faith with Crystal Ocean after King Edward VII third
The Racing Post’s team at Royal Ascot select their horses to follow for the rest of the campaign . . .
2nd, Windsor Castle
Chased home stablemate Sound And Silence, on what was only his second start. A breeze-up buy, he has not been with Charlie Appleby long and should have plenty more to offer. A step up to six furlongs should suit and I expect him to make a mark in Group company before the season ends.
7th, King’s Stand
Cotai Glory was threatening to become frustrating, but was much more like it in last Tuesday's King Stand. He failed to match his fine second in the race from 12 months ago, but showed more zest and, while top-level five-furlong sprints will be hard to win with Lady Aurelia on the scene, don't be surprised to see him make the frame – at likely decent odds – in one.
3rd, King Edward VII
Now is not the time to give up on Crystal Ocean. He'd run an enormously promising race when third in the Dante and is well worth another chance. The King Edward VII was run to suit an experienced, prominent racer such as Permian, rather than a lightly raced colt like him who wants cover and a strong gallop. No trainer is better with a progressive middle-distance three-year-old who needs patient handling than Sir Michael Stoute and he'll get the best out of Crystal Ocean, however long it takes.
5th, Duke of Edinburgh
We can usually count upon a strong pace in the Royal Ascot handicaps, but the Duke of Edinburgh was an exception and Sixties Groove faced an impossible task in attempting to come from the back of the field in the short straight. He did tremendously well to reach fifth and remains a horse of significant potential in similar company. There could be rich compensation in York's John Smith's Handicap should connections target him there.
9th, Royal Hunt Cup
Luck in running plays a major part in the big-field handicaps and fortune did not favour Fastnet Tempest in the Royal Hunt Cup last Wednesday. Denied a clear run before staying on strongly late on to finish ninth, William Haggas’s four-year-old can land a high-profile handicap in the near future and has the class to be competitive in Listed/Group contests.
A resurgent Marco Botti was unlucky not to have a Royal Ascot winner. Indian Dandy won his side in the Britannia and as that was a 21-runner field it was no mean feat. The handicapper might have his say, but this three-year-old looks most progressive now he has learnt to settle. Ridden with more restraint here he finished strongly and is one to side with in big mile three-year-old handicaps where there is a strong pace.
Won, Queen’s Vase
The most notable winners of past Queen's Vases have been Gold Cup winners, Leading Light and Estimate the latest, for which the race suffered by getting demoted to Listed status. But it looks set for a new lease of life judging by its first running as a 1m6f Group 2 prize, which Stradivarius took in cosy fashion with a performance that had St Leger written all over it. There is more to come from him and he won't be 12-1 if he makes it to Doncaster.
3rd, Queen’s Vase
The Group 2 Queen's Vase represented a significant step up in trip and grade for Secret Advisor, who had finished runner-up in a 1m1f Goodwood handicap on his previous start. But he thrived for the stiffer test of stamina, making eyecatching late headway to grab third in the style of a horse who may yet improve further and could develop into a St Leger contender.
4th, Prince of Wales’s
There is another big race to be won by Queen's Trust this year – and very possibly more than one. The Cheveley Park Stud filly became a Breeders' Cup champion last year, but produced arguably an even better performance when finishing strongly for fourth under a patient ride in the Prince of Wales's Stakes. With Sir Michael Stoute to guide her, she will continue to improve and swell her impressive CV through the summer and autumn.
Another momentous week at Royal Ascot for Aidan O'Brien and, although Murillo was not among the trainer's six winners, his run in the Coventry was full of promise for the future. An easy winner over five furlongs at Tipperary, he came from well off the pace last Tuesday and appeared not to have the clearest of runs before finishing well for third, only half a length behind the winner Rajasinghe. He got the trip well and given fast ground should be capable of landing one of the better two-year-old races later in the summer.
Ronald R came mighty close to giving Big Orange’s connections a second winner within an hour on Thursday when going down by half a length in the Britannia, but surely he is destined for bigger things. Had he managed to take the gap the winner did two out, the result may well have been different but he deserves credit nevertheless for the way he rallied after switching course. Up 7lb for scoring on his comeback last month, he remains on the upgrade.
2nd, Commonwealth Cup
Clive Cox's sprinter is a superstar in the making and his noble defeat to Caravaggio proved he is already close to exceptional in his own right. Cox thinks there's more of an edge that can be put on him mentally and he had Aidan O'Brien's unbeaten superstar in trouble before that one's superior staying power saw him power through. He's all speed, all class and could be all-conquering the rest of this year – and possibly next.
4th, Windsor Castle
It takes more than just raw talent to win a horse race, as Mokaatil’s performance proved. He missed the break, ran freely in the early stages of the race and then green when the pace lifted. Despite this, he picked up smartly and ever so briefly looked like winning. There are good times ahead with this horse.
Ryan Moore must have been feeling pretty happy a furlong out in Wednesday's Sandringham Handicap as Rain Goddess eased to the front before Jamie Spencer and Con Te Partiro pinched the victory. The Aidan O'Brien-trained filly was beaten by a spectacular piece of riding and the Pouliches fifth ran a fine race on handicap debut off 104. She will pick up a race before too long.