Tin Man wins the 2017 Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot.
Tin Man wins the 2017 Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot.|NBC Sports
Thoroughbreds

Royal Ascot Friday: Garrity picks the Albany, Norfolk, Hardwicke and Queen's Vase stakes, plus the Commonwealth Cup on likely soft turf

Garrity's first post is at 8:50 a.m. Friday morning.

Chris Garrity

The penultimate day of the 2020 Royal Ascot meeting is a doozy: there are seven races, five of them Group stakes. The weather has been wet all week, and the condition of the course has softened from Monday. We’re expecting the turf to be quite soft for Friday. Let’s go.

Ascot, Race 2, 8:50 am ET

Group 2 Albany Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 2-year-old Fillies

The first major juvenile stakes of the year is the Albany, which will see fourteen fillies go six furlongs on the Ascot turf. We like 14-Willabell. She’s a gorgeously bred filly, by War Front out of a Galileo mare, and while she is still a maiden, she’s got quite a few things things going for her: the first is that she’s trained by John Gosden; the second is that she will be ridden by Frankie Dettori; the third is that her lone career start, which she lost by a nose, is about as fast as the other fillies have run; and the fourth, which we think may be most important, is that she should thrive over the yielding turf. At 10-1, we think she has a terrific chance, and we will bet her to win. The bet: Ascot, Race 2, $25 to win on 14-Willabell.

Ascot, Race 3, 9:25 am ET

Group 2 Norfolk Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 2-Year-Olds

The Norfolk, like the Albany, drew a field of fourteen. We like the favorite, 4-Eye of Heaven. He’s only run once, but it was a good one, winning a 5 furlong maiden race at Newmarket on June 4, beating a couple of the other entrants in this race. His figures for that win make him a huge threat here. We think he’s the likeliest winner on the card, and will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Ascot, Race 3, $30 to win on 4-Eye of Heaven.

Ascot, Race 4, 10:00 am ET

Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 4 & Up

Eleven older horses go in the Hardwicke. With the soft turf, endurance is going to be key: it will require a lot more stamina to stay 12 furlongs on a boggy turf course than it would on a firm one. It is for that reason that we like 8-Hamish, a lightly-raced 4-year-old who has thrived over soft ground, and who has done well in races as long as 1¾ miles. He’s coming off a layoff, but we think he will be ready, and we think he’ll love the ground. We will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Ascot, Race 4, $30 to win on 8-Hamish.

Ascot, Race 5, 10:35 am ET

Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, 6 furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

The Commonwealth Cup is a cracking good race, with seventeen 3-year-olds lining up to run 6 furlongs down the Ascot home straight. We like 4-Lope Y Fernandez, a Coolmore/Aidan O’Brien colt who is wheeling back in just six days, having run in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on June 12. He did not win that race -- he finished third, 2½ lengths behind the winner -- but he did run well. We do not have an issue with the quick turnaround: in fact, we see it as a positive, as this recent race should have Lope Y Fernandez sharp. And he should thrive on the soft turf. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Ascot, Race 5, $35 to win on 4-Lope Y Fernandez.

Ascot, Race 6, 11:10 am ET

Grade 2 Queen’s Vase Stakes, 1 ¾ miles, Turf, 3-year-Olds

The final Group race of the day at Ascot is the Queen’s Vase, which features nine 3-year-olds going the marathon mile and three-quarters distance. We like another horse owned by Coolmore, and trained by Aidan O’Brien: it’s 5-Nobel Prize. We know he can handle soft turf, as he broke his maiden last year over a course that was downright spongy, and though he’s never run this far, his breeding (by Galileo, out of a Danehill mare) suggests that he’ll be able to stay the 14 furlongs. We see a lot of potential in this colt, and we want to jump on his bandwagon early. We will do so by betting him to win at 9/2. The bet: Ascot, Race 6, $30 to win on 5-Nobel Prize.

That’s all for today. Until the next time, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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