Art Power would look well treated off a mark of 97 and connections had been considering the Commonwealth Cup for him but he has not been missed in the market. The one I thought offered each-way value with the extra places on offer was Keep Busy for John Quinn. She is very experienced for a three-year-old at this stage of the season, with thirteen runs under her belt and she was quite progressive last season. Her dam was a tough little sprinter who had a peak rating of 106 and perhaps Keep Busy can reach that level before the season is out.
She started off winning in handicaps off a mark of 73 and ended the season winning at Listed level at Chantilly on heavy ground. That heavy ground form will be an advantage with the ground at Ascot riding on the soft side with the potential for more showers. She has had two runs this season already, finishing a creditable seventh in the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes and Newcastle and then finishing 2nd in a Listed event at Sandown last weekend. Her mark of 96 would look very fair and young Cieren Fallon takes off another three pounds.
We have very little form to reference in the Albany this year but there are reasons for believing that Mahale might be able to run a bit better than her price suggests. She was well backed in the market ahead of her debut over five furlongs at Newmarket, going off 7/1 when there was 20/1 available the night before and she shaped with some promise in the race. A bit outpaced early, she really rattled home to finish fourth, running a really fast closing sectional, which suggests she has plenty of ability and that she could improve considerably for the step up to six furlongs. Oisin Murphy on board is a big positive and Mick Channon has a decent record at the Royal meeting with his two-year-old fillies. Mahale looks worth an each-way investment with the four places on offer from Paddy.
Paddy is paying four places in the Norfolk but I am going to side with the favourite here. I think he is going to be very difficult to beat off the back of his impressive debut win at Newmarket on Guineas weekend. He was well supported in the market, going off an even-money shot and the form has been strongly franked this week already. The third, Tactical, won the Windsor Castle and the second Get It was fourth behind Tactical. The time of Eye Of Heaven was extremely impressive too and providing he handles the soft ground he will encounter here, he should take plenty of beating.
This doesn’t look the deepest renewal of this race and with the ground being a small worry for Anthony Van Dyck, I think it leaves the door open for Elarqam to get off the mark for the season. Always highly regarded, he ran well in last year’s Wolferton Stakes when third behind Addeybb and Magic Wand. He reversed that form with Addeybb in no uncertain terms on soft ground at York and was unlucky not to win the Group One International Stakes when getting very little luck in the run.
Elarqam has the benefit of a run this season, finishing a short-head second to subsequent impressive Prince of Wales Stakes winner Lord North and with the soft ground sure to Suit, Elarqam looks the one to beat.
In my opinion, Golden Horde brings the strongest form into this year’s renewal of the Commonwealth Cup. He progressed with every start as a two-year-old, breaking his maiden at the second attempt at Windsor and running a very creditable 6th in last year’s Coventry Stakes when beaten only two lengths despite the jockey dropping his reins briefly in the final furlong.
He then won the Group 2 Richmond Stakes, beating subsequent dual Group 2 winner Threat and followed up with an excellent third in the Group 1 Prix Morny with Earthlight & Raffle Prize about two lengths in front of him, with Coventry winners Arizona and Norfolk winner A’Ali behind. He improved on that performance to be beaten only a neck by Earthlight in the Middle Park and that run is the best form in the race.
Lope Y Fernandez and Pierre Lapin (for Roger Varian who is having a tremendous week) are the dangers but I’m hoping Golden Horde will be another Group One winning sprinter for Clive Cox.
Plenty of unknowns here but the rain has come in time for Born With Pride and I think it is worth forgiving her disappointing run at Kempton in the Classic Trial, as she was weak in the market, suggesting the run was needed and the all weather surface may not have been ideal for her. She won at Listed level on her debut at Newmarket last season on heavy ground and that work couldn’t have worked out much better, with the second Peaceful winning the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the third winning the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes on Guineas weekend at Newmarket. Soft ground and the step up in trip look sure to suit Born With Pride and she can get back on track here.
A very competitive handicap to close the card but I think Indianapolis can run well at a decent each-way price. Lightly raced for a five-year-old, he has only had twelve career starts and ran some lovely races last season. He was second in a conditions event at Doncaster when very wrong at the weights and ran well when sixth at York and was fourth in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock off marks in the mid 90’s. He then won over this course and distance in the Sherger Cup meeting off a mark of 95, so course form is a definite positive for his claims. He finished the season winning at Leicester off a mark of 97 on heavy ground, so the soft ground at Ascot holds no fears. He had a prep run at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago and that should leave him spot on for this.