Friday’s Royal Ascot Group races comprise a Group 1, three Group 2s and a Group 3.
1.50: Albany Stakes, Group 3, 6f. This is for two-year-old fillies. Wesley Ward sends Flying Aletha, who made a 5½ length winning debut at Gulfstream Park in May. But the choice is Setarhe, who overcame a slow start when wining at Newmarket two weeks ago.
2.25: Norfolk Stakes, Group 2, 5f. Eyes Of Heaven will start a hot favourite for this two-year-old contest. He beat Get It and Tactical when winning on his debut. That pair finished fourth and first in Wednesday’s Windsor Castle Stakes. It’s hard to look beyond Eye Of Heaven on that form. But don’t overlook The Lir Jet, who changed hands for a lot of money after breaking the course record at Yarmouth. He has a good chance.
Three more Ascot Group races
3.00: Hardwicke Stakes, Group 2, 1m 4f. Last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck bounced back to form when second to Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup. On that showing he should win this. But Elarqam comes into the reckoning following his short-head second to Lord North in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes. The winner went on to land the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday. The one doubt is that Elarqam has not yet run beyond 1m 2½f.
3.35: Commonwealth Cup, Group 1, 6f. Aidan O’Brien’s Lope Y Fernandez drops back to sprinting after finishing third in the Irish Guineas. He can go close here. However, Wesley Ward’s Queen Mary Stakes winner Kimari has reportedly travelled well, has worked well and is drawn well in stall 11. She looks a big danger and could beat the colts.
4.10: Queen’s Vase, Group 2, 1m6f. This is that last of the Ascot Group races. Lingfield Derby Trial runner-up Berkshire Rocco will stay the trip but the vote goes to Born With Pride. He only finished seventh in Kempton’s Classic Trial but the winner and second, Berlin Tango and Pyledriver, have franked the form at Ascot this week.