SILVESTRE DE SOUSA: Royal Ascot Friday

Another frustrating day comes to an end. My big hope Fox Tal was just too keen to do himself justice in the Wolferton. We didn’t go the pace that he ideally wants and he just raced too keenly and was disappointing in sixth but hopefully we’ll have another day with him. The two-year-old March Law ran a really nice race to finish second in the Chesham, he was just a little green and we got picked up late on by Battleground.

We move on to day four and one gf my big hopes of the meeting Art Power runs in the opener. It’s a really special day for me as I have rides for Her Majesty The Queen, Ballydoyle and some nice ones for King Power. A day to really look forward too and hopefully some success on the track ….



ART POWER (1.15pm Palace Of Holyroodhouse Handicap)

My best chance of a winner on Friday comes in the opener aboard Art Power (pictured below). He is a really exciting colt and this race looks the ideal one for him. He ended last season with a really good win at York and gave me a lovely feel on his return at Newcastle. We could easily have taken his chance in the Group One Commonwealth Cup, but that race is over 6 furlongs and this 5 furlong trip looks perfect for him. The ground was soft when he won at York so now that the rain has arrived, it won’t inconvenience him. He is drawn high which has been the place to be for the first few days so that’s a positive too. In short he looks to have everything in his favour for a very good run. This is a handicap so it’s hard to rule out anything. The Crisford’s horse Will To Win looks the obvious danger on paper.

VENTURA VISION (1.50pm Albany Stakes)

Despite the fact that Ventura Vision was beaten at odds-on on her debut at Chelmsford, she is a filly I like a lot and she will have learnt a lot that day. However, she will need to step up again to take a hand in this Group race. The majority of these fillies have only had the one run, so it’s pretty hard for all of them as they are learning quick. You always have to respect Aidan O’Brien at this meeting, and he saddles Mother Earth with Ryan Moore in the saddle. She too was beaten on her debut and is bound to have learnt a lot.

EMIRATI DIRHAM NON RUNNER (2.25pm Norfolk Stakes)

Next up it’s the turn of the two-year-old colts, and I ride Emirati Dirham for John Quinn. He stepped up from his debut at Newcastle a few weeks ago to run well at Doncaster last week when he finished third. That was definitely a step in the right direction, but he needs to step up again massively to figure in a race like this. Mark Johnston’s Eye Of Heaven will be a hot favourite and will take plenty of beating. He looked really good on his debut at Newmarket beating Wednesday’s Windsor Castle Stakes winner Tactical and the fourth Get It. That form looks rock solid now.

MORANDO (3.00pm Hardwicke Stakes)

I suppose my chance in the Hardwicke Stakes really depends if we get even more rain as it’s more the merrier for Morando who just seems to handle really bad ground better than other horses. He’s got some nice Ascot form, although he has tended to be found out in this class in the past. Obviously, it won’t be easy taking on the likes of Elarqam whose form with Lord North now looks pretty strong. He steps up to this trip for the first time and will be a big threat to all if he stays as he handles soft ground too. Don’t forget the last year’s Investec Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck is also in the field. He shaped promisingly in the Coronation Cup last time and sets the bar high. I’ll just be hoping for even more rain and that will bring Morando right into contention.

SOUTHERN HILLS (3.35pm Commonwealth Cup)

The feature race of the day is the Group One Commonwealth Cup and I am thrilled to have picked up a ride for Aidan O’Brien. Southern Hills hasn’t been seen since winning the Windsor Castle Stakes at this meeting last year, so this is a tough assignment on his reappearance. However, he is trained by a genius and you always have to respect every runner from the stable. They run three others in the race with Lope Y Fernandez looking the pick of the Coolmore four. Roger Varian’s Pierre Lapin looks the biggest threat. He hasn’t been seen since winning last season’s Mill Reef Stakes and looks a real smart prospect.

PUNCTUATION (4.10pm Queen’s Vase)

It is a real honour to be asked to ride Punctuation for Her Majesty the Queen. Having won his maiden at Kempton over 12 furlongs in good style, he didn’t seem to enjoy being dropped in trip at Newmarket last time. The step back up to 1m 6f will hopefully help him although he may have a bit to prove now. He is easy to pick out on the TV with his white feet so her Majesty should have no problem watching him during the race. Hopefully we can be competitive as it would be a big thrill to ride a winner in her colours at this meeting. His stablemate Berkshire Rocco looks the obvious one on paper.

GOOD BIRTHDAY (4.40pm Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap)

It wasn’t an easy decision choosing between Good Birthday and Johnny Drama. I suppose I opted for Good Birthday as he’s had the recent run, however now it has rained a lot that will suit Johnny Drama! Both colts don’t have particularly easy draws and have their stamina to prove if conditions get tough. Good Birthday has only tried this trip the once, and that was at this this meeting last year. He didn’t quite get home that day, but has strengthened up since and arrives here in good form. West End Charmer was hugely impressive last time and looks the obvious one. With the recent rain arriving Durstan is another to keep an eye on.