Ante-Post Preview Friday June 22

Royal Ascot Tips: Coronation Stakes & Commonwealth Cup


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Horse racing - Royal Ascot parade

Coronation Stakes Preview

(Published Thursday 7th June, 2018) – Run on the penultimate day of the five-day extravaganza that is Royal Ascot, the Coronation Stakes is a Group One event open to three-year-old fillies. It is run over a trip of 7f 213 yards – a mile in all but name.

The race is an obvious target for the 1000 Guineas winner, with Aidan O’Brien’s Winter last year becoming the fifth filly since the turn of the century to win the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot after Classic success on the Rowley Mile.

That is a more than decent turnaround in events given that previously One In A Million in 1979 was the last filly to follow up Newmarket Guineas success with a Coronation Stakes win.

Richard Hannon’s Billesdon Brook (7/1 with 188Bet) is the filly in question this time around after she caused a 66/1 shock at Newmarket last month. At the time of writing the daughter of Champs Elysees still requires a supplementary entry for this race, with the trainer not giving any indication as to the likelihood of that happening.

If she does turn up it will be a first Ascot run for Billesdon Brook. The odds, of course, tell us that her Guineas win was a major surprise, but a review of the run certainly suggests there was no element of fluke in thhat success. She would be a strong player if getting the call and, as her infamous Goodwood win (below) last summer showed, she’s got the finishing pace to match anything she would meet here.

Winter was providing Aidan O’Brien with his third winner in the race last year and the Ballydoyle supremo isn’t short on possibles this time either as he accounts for no less than 10 of the 36 remaining entries at this point. Generally shortest in the betting of the O’Brien team are Clemmie and Happily.

Both were behind Alpha Centauri (more on her below) in the Irish Guineas at the Curragh last month. Happily was the short-price favourite for that contest but it almost went the way of 33/1 outsider and stablemate Could It Be Love, who was the beneficiary of a clever ride from Donnacha O’Brien and almost pinched enough of a lead to hold on.

Happily stayed on quite well to take third spot but, having gone off favourite for the English and Irish 1000 Guineas and never really looking liklyl to land either, I see no reason to take the short price on her now.

Clemmie meanwhile was always in rear in what was her seasonal debut and didn’t muster any sort of challenge in the end. She possesses a high level of juvenile form but that Curragh run does leave a question to be answered and, for now, she too is easy enough to pass over.

Could It Be Love is unlikely to be granted such a commanding advantage if she turns up at Ascot and may struggle to match her Curragh effort. With so many potential runners from Ballydoyle, it is hard to see a lot of value until the master-trainer makes some firm noises but, be sure, whatever O’Brien sends to Royal Ascot will likely account for decent chunk of the market come June 22.

The French have enjoyed themselves in this race of late, with Immortal Verse, Ervedya and Qemah all victorious since 2011.

The French 1000 Guineas went the way of Teppal for trainer David Simcock who remains unbeaten after three starts and grabbed a narrow Longchamp success on her reappearance. She is understandably jostling for favouritism in this market and deserves to be where she is.

Andre Fabre’s Wind Chimes wasn’t far behind her in that contest and is similarly well found in the market here for the legendary trainer.

ALPHA CENTAURI (5/1 with William Hill) gave Jessica Harrington her maiden Classic success with that Guineas win at the Curragh and, as one of those heading the market, is a clear threat to all in the Coronation Stakes. Connections have confirmed this race is next on the agenda for their filly and I suspect she will go off a couple of points shorter than the 5/1 generally available now.

The daughter of Mastercraftsman has won three of her six career starts. On ground described as good or good-to-firm her figures read 1121. The reverse in that sequence was a neck defeat to Different League in the Albany Stakes at the Royal meeting here last June over six-furlongs. That was a race where she didn’t get much racing room in the vital closing stages, but it did show us she will handle the experience of Ascot amid the pageantry of mid-June.

She did really well to run down Could It Be Love last time, despite ploughing a relatively lonely furrow up the middle of the track and has plenty of scope for doing better over this mile trip.

ADVICE: ALPHA CENTAURI (5/1 win with William Hill)

Commonwealth Cup Preview

The inaugural running of the Commonwealth Cup in 2015 marked the first Group 1 sprint contest in Europe confined to three-year-olds and the race has quickly become a success in three runnings. It is run over 6f and there is a 3lb allowance available for the fairer sex.

The favourite in most books is Sioux Nation for Aidan O’Brien. The whispers from Ballydoyle have suggested the Scat Daddy colt has something about him this year and he has shortened up quite considerably after his Group 3 Lacken Stakes win at Naas last month. There will be plenty that have taken decent prices on his chances but last season’s Norfolk Stakes winner is now exposed in this betting market and so the value must be elsewhere.

One of the key contests to look at for this may be the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock where Sands Of Mali repelled all challengers for a narrow success from the front. Richard Fahey’s runner was a game scorer in that Group 2 event at Haydock and shouldn’t be underestimated going to Ascot.

Invincible Army was on his tail for much of the journey and in the end was edged by a mere nose, with the pair having come more than two-lengths clear of the chasing pack. Both are likely to be up in the vanguard if they contest this race and they’ve got their claims for sure.

Charlie Hills’ Equilateral found himself jostling for second-favouritism here following a very easy Doncaster win over the 6f trip last month. He scored with any amount in hand there and clearly has bags of potentials but he’ll be trading places from a novice stakes on Town Moor to the white heat of a Royal Ascot Group 1, and there are surely more appealing propositions for punters.

In the same iconic silks of Prince Khalid Abdullah, I am willing to take a flyer with EXPERT EYE (16/1 each-way with Paddy Power). Sir Michael Stoute’s runner has taken a few backwards steps since, but last summer’s Vintage Stakes win at Glorious Goodwood (below) was a thing of rare beauty.

Expert Eye didn’t settle in the Greenham at Newbury at on his seasonal bow, while the mention of soft in the going might not have helped either, and so he did fairly well to finish within a length of James Garfield in second. The mile trip in the Guineas never looked like it was going to bring a positive result and he’s a colt that simply appears to be crying out for a strongly run 6f, which he’ll get if he turns up here.

To my mind, he’s worth giving a chance to at an each-way price in the Commonwealth Cup.

ADVICE: EXPERT EYE (16/1 each-way with Paddy Power) horse racing tipster

Written by Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is an Irish-based racing writer with an increasing portfolio of work on British and Irish racing. His daily routine is race-by-race form analysis, both on the Flat and over jumps. While the racing world must keep on turning, he is quite sure that no horse will ever pull at his heartstrings quite as much as the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Denman.