2024 Royal Ascot Handicaps: How to bet Friday’s Duke of Edinburgh Stakes

June 20th, 2024

Handicaps play a large part on Day 4 at Royal Ascot, with three in play. The three-year-old fillies get their chance at a mile in the Sandringham Stakes, while three-year-old sprinters show their wares in the Palace of Holyrood House Stakes.

However, the focus here will be on the only handicap on Friday for older horses: the 1 1/2-mile Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. The field is smaller here than in the Sandringham or the Palace of Holyrood House – 19 as opposed to nearly 30 for the other two – but there is a reasonably short-priced favorite that’s worth opposing.

Royal Ascot Race 4, 11:25 a.m. ET: Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, 1 1/2 miles, handicap, 3-year-olds and up


  • #15 Shadow Dance
  • #3 Crystal Black
  • #16 Ethical Diamond
  • #9 Deakin


  • $10 win/$20 show: #15 Shadow Dance
  • $1 trifecta3, 15 with 3, 15, 16 with 3, 5, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16

That favorite is #16 Ethical Diamond. He’s got plenty of things going for him: he’s trained by Willie Mullins, ridden by Ryan Moore, and put up a great effort on his return to flat racing last month at Leopardstown when going down to Saturn, who’s since won another handicap in Ireland.

There’s no reason to think he can’t run well. But there’s a chance he’ll start at 3-1 or lower, and that’s shorter than I feel comfortable with for a Royal Ascot handicap.

The Irish challenge is a strong one. The Gerard Keane-trained #3 Crystal Black arrives with three consecutive handicap victories to his credit, while Joseph O’Brien starts #9 Deakin, a close second to Crystal Black at his last start – with the aforementioned Saturn third. Deakin is two pounds better off at the weights here, but Crystal Black was late clear and did well to get up. If they both get clean runs, Crystal Black looks the better option.

Also over from Ireland is Godolphin’s #5 Safecracker, fifth in the same race behind Crystal Black and Deakin. He has the services of William Buick and could well be improved from what was his seasonal reappearance.

Veteran English trainer Sir Mark Prescott won his first Royal Ascot race in many years when Pledgeofallegiance took out the Ascot Stakes on Tuesday, and he may have a chance of a much shorter wait for the next Royal triumph with #13 Sea King. He came from well back to win at Ripon April 27 and looks an improved horse. He will be especially tough if it becomes a stamina test.

But the one they may all have to beat is #15 Shadow Dance. He put up two solid performances at this distance last fall when winning at Haydock Sept. 8 and running second at Newmarket Oct. 13. Roger Varian has him fresh for this and he gives James Doyle a great chance.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like young horses on the improve that haven’t got too high in the weights just yet, and Shadow Dance fits the bill here.

Watch also for the Andrew Balding-trained #14 Fairbanks, partnered by the in-form Oisin Murphy.