2.30 Royal Ascot – ALPHA CENTAURI (nb)
The selection, trained by Jessica Harrington, is a daughter of Mastercraftsman who made a winning start to her career in a 6f fillies’ maiden at Naas in May (2/1 market leader), making all and travelling powerfully on the front end, pressing on two furlongs out and soon clear, kept up to her work inside the final furlong and eased close home to run out an easy 2½ length winner from Actress. She maintained her 100 per cent in a Listed event over the same course and distance three weeks later (8/11 favourite), recovering from a tardy start to race close up, travelling strongly and taking over going best over two furlongs out, ridden clear inside the final furlong to score by 5 lengths from Actress. This filly has looked potentially out of the top draw on both outings so far, professional enough to make all on debut and then impressing with how she put a seal on matters last time, storming clear inside the final furlong to score very readily. For all her sire’s progeny handle cut well and she won with ease in the ground last time, her debut victory came on decent ground; this will provide a sterner test of her credentials, but she has looked very smart in all she has done so far and no surprise to see keep her unbeaten record intact here.
3.05 Royal Ascot – CRYSTAL OCEAN (nap)
The selection, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, is a well-bred son of Sea The Stars who shaped very well on his sole outing at two in a 7f maiden at Newbury last autumn, and he duly confirmed that promise when making a winning return in a 10f maiden at Nottingham in April, travelling smoothly and quickly settling the issue once going on approaching the final furlong. He was stepped up markedly in grade for the 10.5f Group 2 Dante Stakes at York a month ago (8/1 chance), racing in midfield until moving closer from the three furlong maker, shaken up soon after and staying on well throughout the final furlong to come home in third behind Permian (beaten 1¼ lengths). It was an excellent effort in defeat from this colt on his first forray into pattern company, showing some signs of inexperience in the heat of battle but closing in come the finish, shaping as though the additional yardage on offer here would suit. He is very much bred to come into his own with time and distance, closely related to Crystal Capella and a half brother to Hillstar, who won this very race back in 2013; open to significant improvement, it wouldn’t at all surprise to see this colt make the breakthrough at Group level here en route to even better things.
3.40 Royal Ascot – HARRY ANGEL
The selection, trained by Clive Cox, is a son of Dark Angel who shaped with immense promise on debut over this course and distance last May, not seen again (refused to enter stalls at Glorious Goodwood in the interim) until four months later when landing the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury, keen/travelling well throughout and running out an authoritative 2½ length winner from Perfect Angel. He made his return to action over course and distance in the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes last month, awkward to load and taking a fierce grip from the stalls, travelling strongly to the two furlong maker and keeping on well inside the final furlong without matching winner Blue Point (conceded 4lbs to that rival). He duly went one better in the 6f Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock three weeks later, racing exuberantly and tanking along at the head of affairs, ridden over a furlong out and storming clear to score by 4½ lengths from Second Thought. It was a brazen display of speed from this colt, let loose on the front end and extending his advantage inside the final furlong, lowering the track record in the process; looks more than ready for this step up to the top level, and no surprise to see him prove more than a match for Caravaggio.
5.00 Royal Ascot – COUNT OCTAVE
The selection, trained by Andrew Balding, is a well-bred son of Frankel who shaped with a deal of promise on his sole outing at two in a 1m 1f maiden at Goodwood last autumn, and he duly made short work of the opposition to land odds of 30/100 on his return to action in a 12f maiden at Wolverhampton back in March. He was far from disgraced on his most recent outing in Chester Vase over the same distance a month or so ago (9/1 chance), steadied at the start and racing at the rear of the field, pushed along in last place with half a mile left to run and outpaced initially, plugging on down the straight to come home a never nearer fifth behind Venice Beach (beaten 5 lengths). This colt has looked all about stamina so far, unlikely to have been suited by the demands placed on him by Chester, merely closing up late in the piece having been in rear for the most part and outpaced when the dash for home began. He is related to the likes of Treasure Beach and Elidor (a previous winner at this meeting), and the additional distance on offer here is bound to see him in a more favourable light; still wholly unexposed after just three outings, it is hoped he can take another step forward here now returned to a more conventional track.