Day four of Royal Ascot was in danger of being called off. Heavy overnight rain changed the going from good-to-firm to heavy with a late inspection needed.
In the end, racing went ahead as planned but it was a war of attrition. Seven more races took place, beginning with another juvenile race.
Royal Ascot Day 4 – Friday 18th June 2021
There were two Group 1 races sharing the limelight on day four of Royal Ascot 2021. Both feature races were for three-year-olds too as the younger horses took centre stage.
The six-furlong Commonwealth Cup immediately preceded the one-mile Coronation Stakes on Friday on a day when the fillies showed up particularly well.
2.30 – Albany Stakes (Group 3) (CLASS 1) (2yo fillies) 6f
|1st||Sandrine||16/1||Andrew Balding||David Probert|
|2nd||Hello You||5/1||Ralph Beckett||James Doyle|
|3rd||Oscula||10/1||George Boughey||Mark Crehan|
The opening race of the day gave us the first chance to see how testing the ground was. It was tough for these fillies in the end, even over six furlongs.
Only a week before Royal Ascot, Andrew Balding told owner and long-time supporter of the sport Miss Rausing that Sandrine had worked very well and should head to Ascot. They’ll be glad they went for this!
Sandrine was eased into this under David Probert before hitting the front only half a furlong out. From there she shot clear to win by 1½ lengths with Hello You plugging on well for second place.
Oscula ran well in third, providing young jockey Mark Crehan with a first placed effort at the royal meeting.
3.05 – King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 1m4f
|1st||Alenquer||13/8 Fav||William Haggas||Tom Marquand|
|2nd||Tasman Bay||10/1||Sir Mark Todd||David Probert|
|3rd||Title||5/1||Roger Varian||David Egan|
Affectionately known as the ‘Ascot Derby’, the 2021 King Edward VII Stakes was a quality renewal. There was much talk about how strong the Classic Trial was at Sandown; the form being boosted yet again here.
Back in April, Alenquer had subsequent Derby winner Adayar behind him with connections deciding not to supplement him for the big one at Epsom, instead keeping him fresh for Ascot. That proved to be a very wise decision.
With his mix of French and German breeding, it was felt Alenquer would not be inconvenienced by the soft ground. Again, this proved to be correct. Alenquer stayed on very strongly to win this by 1½ lengths. Tasman Bay continued to improve by finishing second, while there was progression shown also by Title in third.
Tom Marquand joined fiancé Hollie Doyle on the winners’ board, while David Probert continued his great form by booting runner-up Tasman Bay to a fine finish in a strong race.
3.40 – Commonwealth Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 6f
|1st||Campanelle||5/1||Wesley Ward||Frankie Dettori|
|2nd||Dragon Symbol||4/1||Archie Watson||Oisin Murphy|
|3rd||Measure Of Magic||11/1||Johnny Murtagh||Ben Coen|
The biggest controversy of the week came in this six-furlong Group 1 event. The admirable improver Dragon Symbol had been running very well up the near side, but went across and was joined up front by Wesley Ward’s Campanelle.
The two entered into a fierce battle inside the final furlong, pulling five lengths clear of the field. Dragon Symbol continued to drift right, bumping Campanelle along the way. Jockey Oisin Murphy belatedly moved his whip to his right hand, but didn’t correct the horse’s line.
The two battled brilliantly, particularly Dragon Symbol who was headed but regained the lead to pass the post first by a head. However, after a steward’s enquiry the interference was deemed too strong. Campanelle was then placed first, Dragon Symbol being demoted to second.
4.20 – Coronation Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (3yo fillies) 1m
|1st||Alcohol Free||11/2||Andrew Balding||Oisin Murphy|
|2nd||Snow Lantern||14/1||Richard Hannon||Sean Levey|
|3rd||Mother Earth||9/2||A P O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
The slower ground and defection of Primo Bacio meant the Coronation Stakes had lost a little something. That said, this was run at a proper pace and became very stretched – a proper Group 1 race.
1000 Guineas heroine Mother Earth had been placed in the French version too. That was on soft ground, but she’s not at her best on it. That proved to be the case once more as she ran well, but ultimately wasn’t good enough.
German raider Novemba put up a very bold show. She bolted out front and looked to be leading them a merry dance rounding the final bend. In the end, she just ran out of puff as the strong finishers came to claim her late on.
Staying on best of all was Alcohol Free. Despite criticisms being levelled at her of not staying the mile, she saw this trip out really well on bad ground to continue an excellent week for Andrew Balding, while the win was also very speedy redemption for Oisin Murphy after the Commonwealth Cup debacle.
5.00 – Sandringham Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (3yo fillies) 1m
|1st||Create Belief||6/1||J P Murtagh||Ben Coen|
|2nd||Samoot||5/1 Fav||Sir Michael Stoute||Jim Crowley|
|3rd||Messidor||14/1||Joseph O’Brien||Dylan McMonagle|
|4th||She Do||28/1||Roger Varian||Ray Dawson|
Johnny Murtagh and Ben Coen had finished a fine third in the Commonwealth Cup earlier, but this was their moment.
Staying loyal to that ‘Golden Highway’ up the stands side rail, the 6/1 shot was imperious. Create Belief hit the front fully two furlongs out and there was nothing to live with her. She went almost six lengths clear of well-backed favourite Samoot to land a massive win for the yard.
The first ten fillies home all came up the near side. Teodolina was unlucky, “winning” her race on the far side group of four horses.
The list of first-time winning jockeys at the royal meeting was extended again. Ben Coen was excellent on Create Belief, while placed efforts for Dylan McMonagle and Ray Dawson were very welcome.
5.35 – Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (4yo+) 1m4f
|1st||Quickthorn||7/2 Fav||Hughie Morrison||Oisin Murphy|
|2nd||Raymond Tusk||25/1||Alan King||Jim Crowley|
|3rd||Zabeel Champion||17/2||Mark Johnston||Ben Curtis|
It was quite a week for owner-breeders at Royal Ascot, something that is wonderful for the sport. It was Lady Blyth’s turn to be under the spotlight here as her mud-loving Quickthorn got the job done in very fine style.
Hollie Doyle went for home early on Scarlet Dragon, making this a proper test. That’s what Quickthorn needed and he stayed on to beat Raymond Tusk by 1½ lengths – another win for the impressive Oisin Murphy.
Jim Crowley got close again, but just outside of the official places once more was Ben Coen on fourth-placed Mirann. He’s surely a name to remember for the future.
As for the winner, he represents an excellent dual-purpose trainer in the shape of Hughie Morrison. The way he won this race would suggest he’d be just as comfortable in the winter in a two-mile hurdle race, something connections may think about later in the year.
6.10 – Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (3yo) 5f
|1st||Significantly||10/1||K R Burke||Clifford Lee|
|2nd||Boomshalaa||9/2||Roger Varian||Andrea Atzeni|
|3rd||Fantasy Master||16/1||Michael Appleby||Ray Dawson|
|4th||Dream Composer||13/2||James Evans||Laura Pearson|
Another race, another new Royal Ascot-winning jockey. Clifford Lee was very humble after he pushed Significantly home to win the last race, but it could so easily have been different.
While Lee and the 10/1 shot went for home a furlong out, they couldn’t have known Boomshalaa was coming fast.
Andrea Atzeni arguably got too far back in the early part of the race on this soft ground. He was going easily at half-way, but did not get a clear passage. He still had an awful lot of work to do with a furlong to go, but was motoring in the final 150 yards.
Boomshalaa gobbled up the ground, but failed to haul in Significantly by just a head at the line. Fantasy Master ran very well, another good ride from Ray Dawson, while Dream Composer advertised the skills of Laura Pearson too.
Ascot did incredibly well to even get this fixture going on day four. The seven races provided huge talking points and some terrific performances, even in the bad ground.
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