2022 Royal Ascot: Selections for Friday
Day 4 of Royal Ascot 2022 is highlighted by three-year-olds: fillies over the Round Mile in the Coronation (G1), preceded by colt and filly sprinters in the six-furlong Commonwealth Cup (G1). The card kicks off with a fascinating renewal of the Albany (G3) for juvenile fillies.
Race 1 (9:30 a.m. ET) – Albany (G3)
#15 Powerdress (15-1) hails from the Hannon yard, which has captured this two-decade-old race three times previously. This Irish-bred daughter of Dandy Man debuted fairly early in the season, on April 12 at Newmarket, and traveled smartly and smoothly throughout that five-furlong dash. Though she had to be gotten after late to poke her head in front of Yahsat at the wire, she might have just been good enough to win at a distance shorter than her optimum. Runner-up Yahsat later missed narrowly in a stakes at York, though was up the track in the Queen Mary (G2) on Wednesday. Powerdress looks the kind to keep on improving and figures to be a nice price here.
#4 Cathy Come Home (15-1), from the first crop of 2018 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) winner Expert Eye, needed only the mildest encouragement to win at first asking from off the pace over five panels at Musselburgh. Although a lower-level venue, that running line will ensure that she, too, will be overlooked some in the wagering. She obviously has to step it up a bit, but like the confidence shown by trainer Burke, who won this two years ago with Dandalla, a filly that had debuted over the all-weather at Newcastle.
#12 Mawj (7-2) coasted to a 4 3/4-length debut win at Newmarket last month for Godolphin and perhaps is the one to beat if she reproduces anything close to that. The odd thing about it was how cold she was in the betting. She started at 12-1, strange stuff for a half-sister to last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Modern Games, who also happened to win the French 2000 Guineas (G1) as the favorite the day after Mawj lit up the Rowley Course. Did she really look that suspect in advance? Food for thought at quarter of the price here.
Plenty of other intriguing up-and-comers to include if playing the trifecta. #16 Queen Olly (8-1) looked a filly with a future when winning comfortably first out at York. She and early favorite #13 Meditate (9-5) might indeed be better than we're giving them credit for. #17 She's Hot (50-1), who was produced by a half-sister to Melbourne Cup (G1) winner Rekindling, has a right to improve off her debut second over the Kempton all-weather in late March.
Race 2 (10:05 a.m. ET) – Commonwealth Cup (G1)
We'll find out whether his peers have caught up with #9 Perfect Power (3-1), last year's leading juvenile sprinter in Europe. Victorious last term in the Norfolk (G2) here, Prix Morny (G1), and Middle Park (G1), he looked as good as ever when taking the seven-furlong Greenham (G3) at Newbury to start the season. He disappointed stretching out to a mile in the 2000 Guineas (G1), and that bust has had plenty of bettors scurrying elsewhere.
We thought about it, too, but Perfect Power deserves the benefit of the doubt for not having seen out that demanding mile. He's back at his proper distance and, given the size of this field, will offer a reasonably good price for a horse with his credentials.
#3 Ehraz (6-1), who is out of a half-sister to the Temple (G2)-winning Pearl Secret, was a maiden winner over this course and distance last July, didn't fare well in his stakes debut (and season finale) next out, but has shown significant improvement in two starts this year. Fell a jump short of winning the Carnarvon S. over six at Newbury last time. A powerful-looking chestnut, Ehraz figures dangerous in the final stages.
Another who appears to have taken a step forward this year is #14 Twilight Jet (7-1), who dominated the Lacken (G3) at Naas on his reappearance last month. The dual Group 3 winner has lost both prior meetings with Perfect Power, but the gap between the two perhaps has lessened.
#7 Go Bears Go (7-1) was a leading player in this division last season, won the local trial for this, and broke poorly when last seen in the Sandy Lane (G2) at Haydock. He has the potential to rebound with better luck.
Race 4 (11:20 a.m. ET) – Coronation (G1)
So many questions in this renewal of the Coronation: Can Inspiral fulfill huge expectations following a layoff dating to early October? If not, which of the fillies that did compete in the assorted Guineas this spring are capable of stepping up? How well do the two American shippers really fit?
One thing we didn't see in the 1000 Guineas (G1), besides Inspiral, was the best run from #12 Tenebrism (15-1). The favorite that day, she failed to fire in a race won on the front end by longshot Cachet, who has since proven that effort was no fluke. Although Tenebrism had won twice going short, including the six-furlong Cheveley Park (G1) with a terrific late burst, it's hard to believe, without additional evidence, that she was simply undone by the step up in distance.
By two-time Royal Ascot winner Caravaggio and out of 2011 Coronation heroine Immortal Verse, Tenebrism is deserving of another chance over a mile. If she runs back to or improves on her best juvenile form, she can make her mark in this competitive spot.
#5 Inspiral (9-5) faces a potentially tall order trying to win this race off such a lengthy spell, but the fact is she was the dominant filly miler of her generation last season and might be better yet at three as the form she displayed was more or less franked in the English and French Guineas this spring. Presumably the best horse here, but a price of 2-1 or less is unattractive, given the layoff concerns.
#8 Prosperous Voyage (8-1), a closing second to Cachet in the 1000 Guineas, was diverted here after travel troubles halted her plans to compete in the longer Prix Saint-Alary (G1) in France. She futilely chased Inspiral on multiple occasions last season, but was a useful proxy for that rival at Newmarket. However, her habit of settling for minor shares makes it hard to endorse her for anything higher.
The dry, quick ground could give the front-running #1 Cachet (9-2) another boost, and a placing or better would be no surprise in these conditions. #3 Grande Dame (12-1) is a potentially intriguing addition to the three-year-old ranks for the Gosdens. She's looked smart in her two starts to date, but wonder whether she's up to snaring more than a minor piece here, given her relative inexperience.
Race 6 (12:35 p.m. ET) – King Edward VII (G2)
This lackluster renewal of the "Ascot Derby" is the least enticing of the quartet of Group offerings.
#3 Grand Alliance (20-1) perhaps is worth a flyer. He showed improved form this spring, winning a 10-furlong handicap at Doncaster before finishing second in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom over the same distance. Didn't appear 100 percent comfortable over that course, though, and his 16-length deficit in the Derby (G1) itself perhaps worse than it had a right to be. May find conditions here more hospitable, and step up to 1 1/2 miles might also suit.
#1 Changingoftheguard (3-2) clearly the one to beat, especially if he shakes loose on an easy lead. That's what happened in the Chester Vase (G3), when he took control of a paceless affair and won for fun on soft ground. He set the pace in the Derby for about 10 furlongs before his class and stamina were found out.
Two-start stakes winner #5 Ottoman Fleet (9-5) is by Sea the Stars and hails from a highly productive female family. Godolphin homebred has loads of upside, though he hasn't "wowed" us yet visually.