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Friday fun in the Royal Ascot sun

21 Jun 2018

Oisin will ride Ship Of Dreams for Joseph O’Brien (pictured here with Wayne Lordan on board) 

The relentless top-quality action continues onto Friday, in which two British Champions Series races feature on the card, The Commonwealth Cupuubwqucfsc and The Coronation Stakes.

My mount in the Commonwealth Cup, Stone of Destiny, may be a very big price but I don’t think that’s a fair reflection of his chances.

He ran too keenly on his last run at Newbury and actually did really well to finish as close as he did because, frankly, he was so fizzy that he was near enough impossible to get a hold of.

Bearing that in mind, I’ll be riding him to relax in this race and we’ll be hoping that with that bit of extra experience he’ll be able to show his full potential.

It was only his first run on turf at Newbury and his all-weather form at the start of the year is actually pretty smart. Fingers crossed he behaves himself, because if he does then I think he could give me a nice spin.

Of the market principals, I can’t look past Equilateral and Sioux Nation as the most likely winners.

I’m friendly with Michael Murphy who’s ridden Equilateral out a few times on the gallops and he tells me that Equilateral is showing a lot at home and has even come on from his monster run at Doncaster. He lacks a little experience at this grade, but he could turn out to be very good indeed.

That said, I’ve also heard that Aidan has got Sioux Nation absolutely primed for this race and I’d maybe just side with him as he’s battle hardened and won’t be overawed by the occasion. I certainly expect him to set the benchmark in the race; he’s the one they all have to beat in my mind.

After the three-year-old sprinters have scorched the turf, attentions will turn to the fillies and the Coronation Stakes where I ride (the very difficult to pronounce) Nkosikaze for Brian Meehan.

I’ll be honest – I’ve never sat on the horse before, but on bare form she has a huge amount to find and I think she might well find herself in pretty deep water in this race.

The French, English and Irish 1000 Guineas winners have all turned up and of the three I think that Richard Hannon’s filly Billeseden Brook will go very well.

She’ll get similar fast conditions to what she thrived on at Newmarket and I think having bypassed a trip to the Irish Guineas, she’ll be nice and fresh.

Alpha Centauri is a high-class filly and will provide stiff competition, I don’t doubt. But I think the race slightly fell into her lap the other day in Ireland and things aren’t likely to go as smoothly for her round the bend at Ascot.

The cavalry charge that is the Sandringham is next up and I ride one of my best chances of the week , Ship of Dreams, for Joseph O’Brien.

She’s a lovely Lope De Vega filly and I know that they think a fair bit of her at home. She ran a stormer to finish second in an Irish 1000 Guineas trial on her last run at Leopardstown and I’ll be hoping that she can produce a similarly brave run again tomorrow.

It’s always a fiercely competitive race and I’ll need the in-running gods to be on my side, but I’m really looking forward to it.