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Royal Ascot Friday preview

Rain rain go away, at least let us have some clarity on the ground throughout the day. Khaloosy did the job for us yesterday at a nice early price, what awaits us today?

                                                     The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse
Of all the new races, this one is the race I'm least keen on. Art Power was impressive first-up winning at Newcastle and is clear favourite. Could win quite easily, otherwise it's wide open.

The Wesley Ward filly Flying Aletha is favourite but how will she fare on soft ground? After being burnt in the Windsor Castle, I'll steer clear of this one. Frankie's sticking with the Gosden filly, Willabell who was just nutted on the line on debut at Yarmouth after trying to lead all the way in a small field. A daughter of War Front, whose progeny excel at Ascot, she'll come on for that run and should benefit from a larger field. Golden Melody won comfortably on debut and looks to be the only one in the field to have experienced softer turf.

The obvious favourite is Eye Of Heaven who finished ahead of Tactical and Get It, first and fourth in Wednesday's Windsor Castle, at Newmarket on debut. The dogs were barking he was pretty handy, starting even money, and were proven right. Lipizzaner hasn't found the front yet for Aidan O'Brien but it's not rare for them to get it right first time on the big stage. The Lir Jet impressed on debut and has since been purchased by Qatar Racing. 

Derby winner Anthony van Dyck will be close to favourite here but the stable have been quoted as saying soft ground isn't his preference. He hasn't won since that day at Epsom so taking a short price in sub-optimal conditions isn't for me. After going off the rails a bit, Elarqam put it together last year after a wind operation, winning three times. He then resumed at Haydock, beaten a lip by Lord North, who proved pretty handy here on Wednesday. A wet track won't hinder him, he smashed renowned mudder Addeybb in soft going at York in July but his first attempt at a mile and a half could be difficult if it's a proper slog. For an absolute roughie, keep an eye on Alounak. He only finished one length behind Anthony van Dyck at the Breeders' Cup and is two from two on soft tracks in Germany. He was given an easy time late after racing keenly at Newmarket on local debut and might improve sharply.

Commonwealth Cup
The Cox & Kirby combination haven't hit the road running since the resumption but Golden Horde is their beacon of light at the moment. An impressive 2yo, he is said to have really filled out into a rock hard 3yo sprinter. If those reports are to be believed, he's a big chance here. Roger Varian has been racking up the winners this week and Pierre Lapin left a big impression last season winning both his starts to date. 

Queen's Vase
Not excited by any of these to be honest. Big ask for the filly to win this on her third start, don't see how she's been marked as favourite.

Duke of Edinburgh
Durston steadily rose through the handicap last season and looks well suited here - BUT David Simcock hasn't had a winner since the resumption. Six of his last seven runners have finished in the first four though, three of them during Royal Ascot, so he can't be far away from that elusive winner. Deja avoided the firm ground at Newmarket recently and returns after a winter gelding operation. Before pulling hard at Newcastle in his most recent start, he'd won four in a row so connections obviously think there's more to come. Al Mufrih looked pretty promising before slipping in the Old Newton Cup and breaking gear when favourite. He hasn't run since so I assume there was an injury there as well.

With a chance of overnight/morning showers, I'll hold off on getting stuck in until we have a better idea of conditions. Not a day for big confidence but I'll go Eye Of Heaven as the best bet and Alounak as the wild roughie. 


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