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Little Big Bear faces 12 rivals in the Commonwealth Cup as Ballydoyle’s sprinting star bids to add a second Royal Ascot success to his CV.
The son of No Nay Never, who won last season’s Windsor Castle Stakes, heads into the Group 1 contest in winning form after bouncing back to his best in the Sandy Lane Stakes last month.
Sakheer, seventh in the 2000 Guineas, drops back in trip and appears to be the principal rival to Little Big Bear while Shaquille is seeking a five-timer after progressing through the ranks.
The latest Commonwealth Cup odds are on the Paddy Power website and Paddy Power app, otherwise Timeform’s guide to the runners as well as betting tips from the racing boffins can be found below.
Commonwealth Cup tips
Timeform: The outstanding juvenile of 2022, LITTLE BIG BEAR returned lame in the 2000 Guineas but he was expertly prepared to land the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock and he’s a high-class sprinter who will take all the beating. Several of these revert back to 6f having tackled a Guineas, with Sakheer expected to regain the progressive thread, while Shaquille boasts a slightly different profile in that he’s improved by the run and his limit has not yet been established.
Commonwealth Cup runners
Little Big Bear
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien Jockey: Ryan Moore Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 2
Produced outstanding juvenile performance when a devastating 7-length winner of Group 1 Phoenix at the Curragh. Missed the rest of the season due to a foot injury, but having returned lame in the Guineas, he confirmed sprinting is his game with a taking Group 2 victory at Haydock. The one to beat.
Trainer: Charlie Fellowes Jockey: Jamie Spencer Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 13
Group 2 Vintage Stakes winner as a juvenile (completing hat-trick in the process) and just about better than ever when second at Salisbury last month. This looks a big ask but a well-run 6f will at least be right up his street.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby Jockey: William Buick Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 1
Could manage only a respectable fourth in the Middle Park but back on the up with a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf sprint success at Keeneland (5.5f) in November. Heavy defeat in the C&D Pavilion Stakes on reappearance last month needs casting aside but he’s certainly in the right hands. Tongue tied.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby Jockey: James Doyle Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 5
Unbeaten in 3 outings as a juvenile, including the Gimcrack, and not disgraced in the 2000 Guineas on return, failing to fully see it out having pulled hard. Failed to land the odds back sprinting at Newbury but this stiff 6f looks ideal for him and cheekpieces may sharpen him up a touch.
Trainer: Jonathan Portman Jockey: Rob Hornby Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 6
Progressive 2-y-o sprinter, signing off with victory in the Cornwallis at Newmarket. Not disgraced trying to concede weight to race-fit rivals on reappearance but this is an even harder assignment.
Trainer: Roger Varian Jockey: David Egan Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 10
Came a long way in a short space of time at 2, quickening clear in impressive fashion in Mill Reef at Newbury on final outing. Shade too keen and failed to last out in the 2000 Guineas but he remains one to be positive about back in distance.
Trainer: Julie Camacho Jockey: Oisin Murphy Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 4
Well-made colt who has met with defeat just once when far too keen in the Acomb and he cashed in on a below-par Noble Style when cranking it up another notch at Newbury last month. Issues at the stalls a niggling worry but he’s a big form player.
Trainer: Richard Hannon Jockey: Sean Levey Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 12
Campaigned aggressively and thriving on racing, recording win number 5 in listed company at Newmarket last month. Cranked it up again when 1¼ lengths second of 7 to Little Big Bear in Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock and while there’s no reason why he’ll reverse that form, he can go well.
The X O
Trainer: John Ryan Jockey: Robert Havlin Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 9
Limit looked fairly established on the AW but he ran a screamer switched to turf when second in the Pavilion Stakes over C&D last month. This demands even more.
Trainer: Ralph Beckett Jockey: Frankie Dettori Age: 3 Weight: 8st 13lbs Draw: 14
Only defeat at 2 came when edged out by Mawj in the Duchess of Cambridge at the July meeting, winning the Group 1 Cheveley Park over 6f at Newmarket. Had a tilt at the 1000 Guineas on reappearance, finishing eighth, but sprinting more her bag.
Trainer: Mrs J. Harrington Jockey: C. T. Keane Age: 3 Weight: 8st 13lbs Draw: 8
Has done nothing but improve in 5-race career, winning a listed race on reappearance at Navan before coming up a head short in the Group 3 Lacken Stakes at Naas last month, emerging with plenty of credit given how that race unfolded. This demands a lot more.
Trainer: Kevin Ryan Jockey: Jim Crowley Age: 3 Weight: 8st 13lbs Draw: 11
Second to Swingalong in Group 2 Lowther at York after making a winning debut at Haydock last summer. From a speedy family and too free to last out in the 1000 Guineas on reappearance. No surprise she’s quickly back over 6f.
Trainer: K. R. Burke Jockey: Clifford Lee Age: 3 Weight: 8st 13lbs Draw: 7
Useful as a juvenile, her two wins including the Lowther at York. Not discredited in the Cheveley Park Stakes behind Lezoo on her final outing but unable to continue the good work so far this year.
Friday’s Royal Ascot Tips
- Horse Racing Tips: Matt Chapman’s slick picks for Royal Ascot on Friday
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- Horse Racing Tips: Paul Jacobs’ value plays for final two days at Royal Ascot
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