Ranking Clive Cox's Royal Ascot contenders

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 12th, 2021

Trainer Clive Cox has enjoyed increasing success during recent editions of the prestigious Royal Ascot meet in England. Seven of his nine wins have come in the last decade, including triumphs in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) and Coventry S. (G2) last season.

Cox appears well stocked for further Royal Ascot success in 2021. Tony Elves of attheraces.com has garnered Cox’s thoughts on a variety of runners targeting the royal meeting, including a two-year-old who seems poised for group stakes success.

To aid our Royal Ascot handicapping, we’ve sorted five of the Cox expected starters into three categories, based on their perceived likelihood of visiting the winner’s circle:

Group A: Primary win contenders

Instinctive Move

A flashy debut winner at Bath last month, the two-year-old Instinctive Move is held in high regard by Cox. A son of the talented two-year-old speedster Showcasing (known for siring sprinters and high-class juveniles), Instinctive Move is taking aim at the five-furlong Norfolk S. (G2) on Thursday.

“He made a really pleasing debut down at Bath,” said Cox. “He showed plenty of speed and looks a real five-furlong player at the highest level.”

Group B: Logical, but not unbeatable runners

Diligent Harry

Four starts, three victories, one second. Diligent Harry has been on fire to start his career, and though he’s competed exclusively on synthetic tracks so far, Cox is optimistic the three-year-old son of Due Diligence will give a fine account of himself in Friday's Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

“I couldn't be more pleased with his belated racecourse appearance and his subsequent progress when he won three times in the spring,” said Cox. “He has had a mini break and has come back really strong but is slightly hindered by the weather. He has an entry in the Commonwealth Cup which is a possibility and bearing in mind his lack of experience he gives me plenty of confidence to have that type of entry.”


An accomplished juvenile who won the Middle Park S. (G1) to conclude 2020, Supremacy took a step backward in his seasonal reappearance, finishing last of eight in the six-furlong Pavilion S. (G3). But Cox believes the son of Mehmas can take a step forward in the Commonwealth Cup, where he ranks among the favorites in the early betting.

“His comeback run was way below expectations and his blood was less than perfect when he returned home,” explained Cox. “I hope a sounder surface will see a recovery of last year's form. He has a Commonwealth Cup entry and that will probably be our next target. I am very pleased with the way he has trained especially through the last week.”

Tis Marvellous

The six-furlong distance of next Saturday's Wokingham H. might be a furlong farther than Tis Marvellous prefers to run, but Cox is optimistic returning to Ascot will prove favorable for the aging gelding. Tis Marvellous has hit the board in seven of his eight starts at Ascot, including a fourth-place effort in the King’s Stand S. (G1) last year.

“Tis Marvellous is a yard favorite and he broke the course record at Maisons-Laffitte in the Prix Robert Papin (G2) at two,” said Cox. “He continues to perform well at the highest level and is probably best at five furlongs but he will run in the Wokingham H. at Royal Ascot. He loves Ascot so much and he has finished runner-up in the race before [in 2019].”

Group C: Runners who may prove better down the road

Royal Scimitar

A tenacious debut winner sprinting six furlongs at Newbury last summer, Royal Scimitar showed early promise, but has failed to step forward as a three-year-old. After finishing fourth in a one-mile event at Goodwood in April, Royal Scimitar is being considered for a cutback in distance. Thursday's seven-furlong Buckingham Palace H. looks like a starting point to reboot Royal Scimitar’s career.

“He was a very exciting two-year-old and won first time out and just missed out on black type in listed company,” said Cox. “I thought he had the potential to stay further but it looks like we will be better dropping back to seven furlongs at this stage.”