UNDOUBTEDLY one of the best and most successful initiatives introduced by the BHA in recent years has been the Commonwealth Cup (3.40pm).
This Group One contest for three-year-old sprinters has completely changed the sprinting programme, giving trainers the chance to pitch their horses against their own generation.
Previously sprinters would have to take on older horses in either the King’s Stand or the Diamond Jubilee which could be a bridge too far at such an early stage of their career.
Muhaarar landed the inaugural running in 2015 before going on to scoop three more Group One prizes and being crowned champion sprinter.
Limato was second in the 2015 Commonwealth Cup and has won two Group One events since then, while last year’s winner Quiet Reflection took Haydock’s Sprint Cup last September.
It has clearly worked and we look to be in for a treat again with three top class sprinters set to battle it out this afternoon.
Caravaggio, described by Aidan O’Brien as the fastest horse he has trained, is certain to go off favourite and it’s easy to see why.
Unbeaten in five starts, the son of Scat Daddy was hugely impressive when landing the Coventry Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago from a bad draw.
He is clearly very good indeed, but he hasn’t beaten a great horse yet and is just 10/11 with Ladbrokes so I’m happy to look elsewhere.
Clive Cox won Wednesday’s Queen Mary Stakes with Heartache and he has a big chance in this with the hugely exciting HARRY ANGEL.
This Dark Angel colt absolutely bolted up in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock, skipping over the quick ground to win by 4 ½ lengths without breaking sweat.
Cox is a master with sprinters and although this horse clearly has his quirks, his talent is undeniable.
He has been beaten both times he’s been to Ascot, but I wouldn’t read too much into that.
The first was a nose defeat on debut and he then ran really well conceding 4lbs to be beaten just 1 ½ lengths by Blue Point in the Pavilion Stakes here last month.
Harry Angel has clearly improved since then and he looks a decent bet at 7/2.
Charlie Appleby’s Blue Point had some top class form last season, winning the Gimcrack and finishing a close second in the Middle Park.
It looked as though he’d retained all his ability when taking the aforementioned race over course and distance in early May.
He is another top class sprinter and there is an argument for backing him each-way at 11/2 with Ladbrokes because I can’t really see anything else getting into the top three spots.
If there was to be a shock, it could be Wesley Ward’s Bound For Nowhere.
The yard’s horses have run really well this week and this colt is unbeaten in two starts back in the States.
Earlier on the card, I’m really keen on the chances of CRYSTAL OCEAN for Sir Michael Stoute and Andrea Atzeni in the King Edward VII Stakes (3.05pm).
He was a massive mover in the ante-post market for both the Dante and the Derby last month, but he drifted on the day at York.
I thought he ran a hugely promising race to finish third and Stoute immediately ruled out Epsom for the son of Sea The Stars.
Permian beat him at York, but my selection has greater scope for improvement and he looks a decent bet at around 3/1.
Sir John Lavery is a threat for Aidan O’Brien, while Salouen can also run well after a slightly unlucky passage at Epsom, but I’ll be sticking with Crystal Ocean.
My final selection on this afternoon’s card comes in the closing Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (5.35pm).
SIXTIES GROOVE was gelded in the winter and then ran an eye-catching race over a mile on Oaks day earlier this month.
That was too short a trip but will have set him up perfectly for this and Jeremy Noseda’s horses are in great form.
His draw in 14 is a big positive, as the last eight winners have all come from a double figure stall. Take the 8/1 each-way with Coral.
Crystal Ocean 3.05pm Ascot
Harry Angel 3.40pm Ascot
Sixties Groove e/w 5.35pm Ascot