Royal Ascot – Friday preview
2:30 Albany Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies) 6f
3:05 Wolferton Handicap (Listed Race) 1m2f
3:45 King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) (Colts & Geldings) 1m4f
4:25 Coronation Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (Fillies) (Round course) 1m
5:00 Queen´s Vase (Listed Race) 2m
5:35 Buckingham Palace Stakes (Handicap) 7f
Lightning Thunder (pictured right – image at foot of email) has hit the bar twice in Classic company this term but she can enjoy her turn in the spotlight with victory in the Coronation Stakes, the feature event on day four of Royal Ascot.
Winner of two of her four starts as a juvenile, she turned in an excellent effort when beaten just a neck by Miss France in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.
She made a late bid for glory that day but the finishing line came too soon for Olly Stevens’ charge, prompting connections to roll on to the Curragh where Lightning Thunder went for gold in the Irish equivalent.
However, the ground went again her and while she just about coped with the soft conditions in finishing second to Marvellous, she probably would have been much closer had the ground been on the quicker side.
She will get that faster ground in Berkshire and with her two old adversaries not in the running, Lightning Thunder can take full advantage.
King Edward VII Stakes
Bunker was disappointing on his seasonal return but he remains a solid contender in the King Edward VII Stakes for Richard Hannon.
He enjoyed an excellent juvenile career, finishing second to Berkshire in the Chesham at this meeting before going on to beat Karakontie in a Listed heat at Deauville on his final start last August.
Given that rival has since gone on to win two Group Ones, including the French 2,000 Guineas, the form is pretty sound and Bunker was duly reasonably well fancied on his return in the Dante at York last month, having been added to the Derby field.
However, the Hurricane Run colt looked all over a stayer as he lacked a vital change of gear, and probably race fitness, as he was beaten nearly four lengths into fourth by The Grey Gatsby, who has since gone on to land the French Derby.
The reopposing Odeon, who had had a previous run, was slightly ahead in third that day but Bunker was expected to improve for the run and the switch up a to a mile and a half is also another positive, as is the fact Dante second Arod was fourth in the Derby so the form is rock-solid.
Min Alemarat looks the type who could stay two miles in the Queen’s Vase.
The trip is a question mark for all the runners here, but Marco Botti’s contender showed no signs of stopping when winning by seven lengths over a mile and a half at Haydock last month.
Elite Gardens looked very smart when winning at Newmarket on her debut and she can give Godolphin a Royal meeting success in the Albany Stakes.
While runner-up Aktabantay has since been beaten at tight odds, a couple of winners have emerged from the also-rans in that five-furlong contest.
Elite Gardens steps up in trip but as she is related to a Grade One-winning miler in America, there is every reason to believe the extra furlong will be in her favour and she appears to be held in the highest regard by Saeed bin Suroor.
Contributer was beaten a fair way by Noble Mission on his most recent outing but can make the most of a drop in class for the Wolferton Handicap.
Noble Mission has seriously boosted the form since with a Group One success and given Contributer was all at sea on testing ground, he deserves plenty of credit for that performance as prior to that he had won in the manner of a progressive individual at Kempton.
He has form at this meeting having been a creditable fourth in last year’s King Edward VII.
Buckingham Palace Stakes
Russian Realm has been the subject of some promising gallops reports and can strike for Sir Michael Stoute in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.