Caravaggio got the better of Harry Angel and Blue Point in a Commonwealth Cup cracker at Royal Ascot. Replay our live blog - as it happened.
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1815: The final day of action beckons and Ian Ogg takes over in the saddle while I get to sneak occasional peeks of the action on my phone in between refereeing the kids and attempting to stop them from murdering each other. I know where I'd rather be.
Thanks for your contributions today and for sharing the excitement of some top-drawer racing - the Commonwealth Cup in particular absolutely lived up to its billing. Can we really dare to hope that we might get to see Caravaggio taking on Lady Aurelia over 1200m later this year in Australia. Now that would be a race worth staying up for!
Good luck with your final-day investments tomorrow. All the best.
1800: Beer-gate threatens to overshadow a good day's racing in some of the news reports now (not here though) - a refreshed racegoer has apparently lobbed a pint at Andrea Atzeni on the way out for the last race. It's the end of society as we know it, I tell you...
1752: It's off to HQ now for Willie 'Winners' Buick, who has two rides for Charlie Appleby in at the end of the evening card - I suspect the trainer will be coming with him in the helicopter and that they'll be having a good old catch-up over today's fall-out on the way. Interestingly, Saeed bin Suroor has the favourite for one of the races in which they are represented at Newmarket, with Josephine Gordon on board.
1747: Yet another Godolphin winner. A good week for the boys in blue, even though they've had to settle for the placings behind Caravaggio today.
1746: 1st Rare Rhythm 20/1 2nd Appeared 13/2 3rd Star Storm 14/1 4th Top Tug 8/1
1745: She'll have wished she'd beaten the traffic now after that.
1738: They're off for the D of E! Will it be hoorah or huzzah for the Queen?
1737: The announcer at Ascot starts every fresh announcement with 'Just to let you know...' I know it's been a long day, but I'm starting to find it incredibly annoying.
1735: Look - it's the last race. I do hope The Queen has stayed to watch her runner Mainstream and hasn't had to rush off to catch Eggheads.
1732: That wasn't a metaphor. She was a cigar and cigarillos vendor.
1730: Just had an interesting chat with a girl selling cigars on the second floor. She assures me not every member of the aristocracy is awful - some are quite pleasant, apparently.
1710: Plenty of decent potential jumpers in that field, I'd say. The winner is still learning though and looks a Cup horse for next year - indeed, I'd certainly fancy him to have scored even if the race had been over the former two-mile trip. But what would I know...
1705: 1st Stradivarius 11/2 2nd Count Octave 8/1 3rd Secret Advisor 10/1
1703: WHAT A FIDDLE! STRADIVARIUS WINS THE QUEEN'S VASE!
1655: Right. The Queen's Vase. There would be a delicious irony if Mister Manduro won this for Mark Johnston, the trainer having told Ascot how they have ruined this race by dropping back in distance, upgrading it, and massively boosting the prize money. It's not an impossibility either.
1650: Steve Claydon emails to say: "Wow – what a race the Commonwealth Cup was! It never happens. 3 crack horses all run well to provide that kind of spectacle. Form looks bomb proof also. The second and third have run nearly to the pound on Ascot prior form. Great to see good horses do the job on the biggest stage."
1645: More from Aidan O'Brien on the plan to send Caravaggio for The Everest. He said: "The lads have that plan in their mind and we have to be conscious now if we want him to last for the autumn.
"He was very relaxed in himself before the race. He was very natural with no edge to him. He is a natural free sweater anyway, but I was surprised by how cool he was - he is a very calm horse.
"He is very quick. I would be happier at two furlongs than six with this fella. He is just an unbelievably quick horse."
There we are then - speaking as another talented, natural free sweater, I feel a new sense of kinship with this 'oss.
1640: Ryan Moore: "It wasn't a big field, but there was plenty of quality there and she did what she had to do and hopefully she can keep going onwards."
1630: With Precieuse being hassled for the lead in front throughout by Roly Poly, everything looked to be going to plan for the winner all the way. It was John Gosden's Dabyah who followed Winter through in her slipstream to throw down some sort of a challenge at the furlong-pole, but she looked a non-stayer (or perhaps slightly short of full fitness) in the last 100 yards and backpedalled to allow the rallying Roly Poly (this year's Alice Springs to Winter's Minding???) to get back up for second place with Hydrangea third.
1625: Aidan O'Brien looks like a very happy man as he goes through the post-victory handshake routine with the lads and their partners.
1623: WINTER WINS at the head of a 1-2-3 for team Coolmore. Yes, it's been a good day's work.
1621: I'll be able to tell you in about 100 seconds' time.
1617: She looks particularly full of beans on the way to post and there are absolutely no sign that her Guineas wins have taken anything out of her. She'll win, right?
1615: It's back to business for team Ballydoyle though, as Winter heads out to bat at 1/2 in the Coronation.
1610: After Newmarket, the plan is for Caravaggio to go to Australia for the richest-ever race on turf, an invitation-only contest called the Everest at Randwick over six furlongs on October 14. There's a suggestion she might meet Lady Aurelia there.
1557: Clive Cox: "It was just a very very special race. Caravaggio had to work to get us. We've been second in a Group One and it won't be long until he gets his revenge in another, I suspect."
Charlie Appleby: "William Buick got off and said 'He's a machine'. He said it was an amazing race to be a part of. It's a shame for the second and third really, as the winner is already a multiple Group One winner, and whether we'll have to avoid each other or just make sure we're 100% and [hope] that the other horse doesn't perform. But I'm delighted with him."
1555: Caravaggio is 2/1 with Sky Bet for the July Cup - that looks a reasonable bet to me, even before we've seen the Diamond Jubilee.
1552: Ryan Moore: "It's the first time I've had to ask him a question and he just took a while to understand what I wanted, but he's a very good horse and I think he'll come on for that - the two horses we were tracking are very smart."
1548: I like the way that Aidan O'Brien always goes for a quick chat with the jockey straight away, even before he has returned to the winner's enclosure - it's like he needs to know Ryan Moore's opinion, just to confirm his own. Got to tell you, I'd love to know what they're saying.
1545: There are lots of reasons to mark up Caravaggio's victory here. Not least because he's beaten the clear form horses, who have absolutely run their races, and beaten them F&S.
1544: (But, whisper it quetly, give me Lady Aurelia any day.)
1543: CARAVAGGIO wins. Three good horses, there.
1540: Here we go then. This should be interesting.
1536: JP from Paris: "If you think they are going to go 'Straight Right' out of the stalls, you might want to back the French horse of the same name. He's 10/1 on the PMU with local punters but 125/1 with the bookies!"
1535: On to the Commonwealth Cup. This is a race I'm really, really looking forward to. Without a bet. I know - who could have imagined it?!
1532: Another quick after-thought on that race - it was John Ferguson who first suggested pitching Permian into the Dante. Without that decision, and that victory, would he have ended up in this line-up? It's been an interesting week to be John Ferguson. How could it not have been, I guess...
1530: Johnston says a Group One is the next logical target for Permian, and he's right of course, having won a Group Two so well. But I just have a hunch he might turn out to be a bit of a Bandari - a serial winner in lesser Group races but destined to just come up sadly short at the very top level. I genuinely hope to be proved wrong.
1523: That was Mark Johnston's first winner of the week, by the way. In 2002 and 2003 he was top trainer at the meeting with four and five winners respectively. It's a harder game these days.
1520: "Take the Derby away and he's a very exciting colt," says Buick, and he's right of course. But how do we rate that performance in terms of the horses that were close-up in the Derby (eg Cracksman and Cliffs of Moher). Is he better than them now? Hard to say.
Personally, the one I will take out is fourth-placed Raheen House, who was given a Jamie Spencer ride in a race in which Jamie Spencer rides were disadvantaged. He made up more ground than anything and plenty will be willing to rule the run out as a fluke given the horse's long odds.
1515: Habitual slow starter Glencadam Gold turned over a new leaf to take them on in the early stages, but they went a very steady gallop until Robert Tart suddenly stoked the leader up three furlongs out. Suddenly, the sprint began.
Permian and William Buick were perfectly positioned at that point and struck the front coming off the bend - not unlike the manner of his Dante success under fearless Franny Norton. From that point, nothing else could get close and although Crystal Ocean tried, his effort petered out in the final 150 yards. If there's one thing Permian has his locker (other than at Epsom of course) it's the ability to find a burst in the mid-stage of the race that takes the others out of their comfort zones.
1510: 1st Permian 6/1, 2nd Khalidi 10/1, 3rd Crystal Ocean 9/4F.
1508: PERMIAN wins for the North! The Dante form is held up.
1500: At the post for the King Edward and punters are piling into favourite Crystal Ocean. He was such a hype horse going into the Dante but really didn't run at all a bad race in third.
That said, he's got ground to make up on Permian on that run and it's hard to believe he necessarily deserves to be just 2-1, especially as his trainer is still looking for a first winner of the week.
1450: Just watching the reply of that first race again - I really don't think there's much in it, as long as you're not in the middle. Can't wait to see what happens in the sprint now though - surely a field of 12 can't split into groups? That would be madness, wouldn't it?
1445: Have we learned anything from the first race draw-wise? Perhaps, but possibly more with an eye on tomorrow's racing than today's?
Will anything in the Coronation Cup be tempted to head right straight out the stalls and search for the far rail? I'm not sure in such a small field - it will be interesting to see though.
1440: I told you that was an interesting contender - Alpha Centauri was clearly best of the rest, but couldn't quite get on terms with the French-trained winner, who was quick from the gates.
1435: OOOH LA LA! DIFFERENT LEAGUE lands the gamble in the Albany!
1430: Going in quickly now - good luck!
1425: Mind you, she's a decent-sized old unit to look at. Princess Peggy looks none the worse for bicyclegate. "I don't think it was anything big," David Flores told Racing UK. "But I think the guy on the bicycle got a bit scared."
1420: Alpha Centauri is the fairly solid 5/2 favourite for the opener and there's no doubt that she has looked a very smart prospect so far, but this is hot and we simply don't know how good most of these fillies could be.
1400: Time for the royal procession to head out on to the course. Let's hope it's not a bumpy ride for Mr and Mrs Butter or they could be cream by the time they reach the parade ring.
Meanwhile, with half an hour to go until the first race it's time to remind you of Sky Bet's Money Back offer on the first race at 2.30 - stakes returned up to £20 in free bets if your selection comes second or third.
1345: One interesting thing for punters about today's racing has been the volatility in some of the betting markets. A lot of firms have had ante-post markets up for a while on the really big races and most have even had a bash at the handicaps six the six-day entry stage, but there has been a lot of movement in prices even from last night - despite the fact you'd have imagined that everyone would have a fairly good handle on the form with most of these high-profile horses.
Take the last race, the Duke of Edinburgh. Sixties Groove now heads the betting at no bigger than 9/2, but he was freely available at 7/1 this morning and 8/1 last night. Others have moved out in the market by a similar percentage in response.
I'm not surprised punters are having a good look at Sixties Groove after an eyecatching effort on his reappearance, but I am a little surprised he's so popular after Abe Lincoln's uninspring effort for the same connections in the Hunt Cup.
1340: It's not too late to play the Sporting Life Pick 7 game. We're still to give away a big cash prize so far this week, but wins for Winter and Caravaggio could make it easier to solve.
Click here to enter your selections and you could win £100,000 for absolutely diddley-squat.
1330: An hour to go until the first race and for reasons as yet unclear, Ascot are playing the James Bond theme over the PA system. Perhaps it's to heighten the drama but the only noise I can hear otherwise is the steady metallic clunk-click of cutlery and the chink of champagne glasses from the Royal Ascot Racing Club dining suite next to the press area.
1315: Out on the course, a steady flow of people continue to walk the track. David Flores, wearing a splendid black cowboy hat, is sticking to the area about three metres away from the far rail. I'm confidently expecting Princess Peggy to be heading towards the far side from stall three now. But will the Albany field split into two groups or remain as one? And how will the result of that race affect decisions for jockeys later on the card, such as in the Commonwealth Cup?
1310: The boards bookmaker in the Royal Enclosure called Paddy Campbell has a sign on his pitch that says 'Large Wagers A Pleasure'. I wonder if this could become a motto adopted by any of the major bookmakers. It's got a pleasant ring to it.
1300: Our premier German contact Mark Erler is the next on the email machine. "Hi Will, one easy question ? Ist Harry Angel good enough ?? Can he beat the monster?? I think he is. Nice greetings."
A tough one this, Mark. Of the three at the head of the betting, I think he's the most likely to give his true showing. His Haydock victory was very impressive and we all know that Clive Cox thinks he is a proper, proper horse.
Does that mean he will win? Time will tell.
1250: John Wareham writes: "Right, I have found the perfect way to select a winning horse. Forget form, going, racing on the far side, near side or whatever. This is the way to go. When your missus sends you to the local shop to buy a pot for her new rose, look underneath (which you tend to do to put drainage holes in) and notice that the pot is called "the Ascot" and is made by a company called "Ward". Its almost like a lighting bolt striking you and you hear the sounds loud and clear Hallelujah sung by a cacophony of angels, you know its time to get your 50p each way on anything Wesley has running."
Divine intervention, there. Although it's possible of course, John, that you were supposed to find the pot on either Tuesday or Wednesday when Wes had winners. Did the good Mrs W actually ask you go and buy the pot earlier in the week? Have you received this message from the Gods 48 hours later than intended? I thought as much.
1240: I can't remember the last time I had a bet on a Godolphin horse. Too many bad experiences in the last 10 or so years. But I can't but wonder whether Best Solution is becoming overpriced for the King Edward VII at 10/1. He surely did too much too soon in the Derby, but was still bang there with a furlong to go.
1230: In Prince Philip's absence, it's Captain David Bowes-Lyon who gets to sit next to the Queen, I see. I wonder if Phil is at home, Googling Captain DB-L to find out who his stand-out is... It must be nice for him to put something on the TV other than the racing for the afternoon though.
1220: My old pal Jason Ford (one of the good guys in this great game) has been in touch to help me out with the Different League story. He writes: "She carries the colours of Theresa Marnane - wife of bloodstock consignor/pinkooker, Con Marnane and brother of trainer David. These are the same silks in which Palace Episode won the Racing Post Trophy in 2005. 50/1 looked a good price..."
A look at the Twitter feed of Con Marnane's excellent Bansha House operation offers little further clues. There's nothing saying 'Get on my good thing in the Albany today' for example, but it all suggests that there is some substance to the idea that she might just be able to go a bit.
1210: Just went for a stroll and a gourmet hot dog. Meanwhile, the big news is that the Butters (Charles Butter is, I am told, the Queen's Godson, which is nice) are back in carriage four in the royal procession again. It's good news for the Wingfield-Digbys too, who are in carriage three. There used to be an amateur jockey called Mr J Wingfield-Digby who was a regular fixture in the military races every year - he even owned a horse called Wingers Diggers for a while.
1150: My email address is at the top of this page. JP from Paris has been in touch and says: "I hope that sorrows have been drowned overnight and that you feel more motivated than ever to find winners, still plenty of racing left…still searching for my first winner as all I had to show for yesterday was a sixth place on Senator and a non-runner in the last, depressing stuff but taken with a smile.
"Straight in with a headache in the Albany, quite a few Scat Daddy’s offspring in there. I'm siding with Take Me With You but will probably have saver on the two Ward horses (trying to cover for the draw as well) on the PMU here as there are two French horses that could draw a bit of the pool, perhaps interestingly the French punters have Summer Shamal at 12s and Different League at 9s so I had a bit on the former."
I'll put a couple more of JP's fancies up later.
1145: Make no mistake, though, it's a seriously good Albany (better than the Queen Mary?) and surely the race will be a Group Two before long. Among the other potential star fillies in the line-up are Churchill's sister Clemmie, two Wesley Ward runners and unbeaten Jessie Harrington-trained filly Alpha Centauri, who looked a right machine last time in a Listed race at Naas.
1140: Another of the best-backed horses so far today not listed below is Different League, a fascinating French contender for a red-hot Albany Stakes. One of my premier European contacts flagged this one up to me at the start of the week and thanks to the France-Galop website (which does require a brief initial registration for a log-in), I've watched her latest victory at Lyon D'Angers. It was worth the hassle to do so, as she was scorching. Is she good enough to win this? Who knows? But the money for her today is certainly encouraging.
1120: It's not just punters who fancy Salouen's chances in the King Edward today, jockey Fran Berry is pretty keen too, as you can read in his latest Sportinglife.com column here.
1115: Sky Bet's early racing market movers today:
Ascot 2:30- Snowflakes 25/1 into 18/1
Ascot 3:05- Salouen 9/1 into 7/1
Ascot 5:00- Stravadius 12/1 into 7/1
Newmarket 6:20- Weekender 5/2 into 13/8
Newmarket 8:00- Carolinae 13/2 into 4/1
Ayr 9:15- Royal Duchess 12/1 into 8/1
1110: Godolphin's Culturati is a non-runner in the Wokingham Handicap tomorrow, meaning that first reserve Captain Colby gets in. It sounds like Princess Peggy is going to run in the Albany today though, despite having been in collision with a man riding a bicycle (!) outside the course on Wednesday. She sustained only superficial injuries and will be assessed by the vets before being given a final green light.
1100: No change in the going report to the first three days, with conditions remaining Good To Firm after 4mm of watering was added overnight. Some interesting comments from Chris Stickels on the straight course though. He says: "I don't think you want to be racing up the middle, but if you are within 12metres of either rail, I think you are in a good place. There is no way to determine that one rail is better than the other by walking it. As the week goes on, if the ground on one side of the track gets more worn than the other, you get less purchase when the track has been used a bit. People have commented to me this morning that the pace was on the far side yesterday."
It's now 15 days since there was any rain at Ascot. I'd say Mr Stickels has done a pretty fair job so far.
1045: Today has already started better than last night ended. When will I learn that after 10pm, London's Circle Line is effectively best ignored as a potential means of transport, trains becoming harder to pin down than the draw bias here on the straight course? Having been forced to pay for a cab in order to make the last train back to Reading, we then sat on the platform for half an hour while the police took statements after 'an incident' and a loud woman in our carriage treated us to the benefit of her expertise on the rail franchise system. It was, by no means, a fun way to end the evening.
1040: That's not to mention all of the other highlights lined up for today's feast, including an opportunity for Winter to succeed where Churchill failed and complete a popular Guineas-Guineas-Ascot hat-trick in the Coronation Stakes. Then there's Crystal Ocean, whose Dante third looks better after Benbatl's victory in the Hampton Court Stakes. Victory in the King Edward VII would make Sir Michael Stoute ("really a very nice man" according to BBC Radio Berkshire) the most successful trainer in the history of Royal Ascot. And that would be something to put on the mantelpiece next to the knighthood and the gold medal in the 'Racing's best guffaw' competition.
1035: The Aidan O'Brien hype machine may rankle with some, but personally I love it. What's racing without bigging your horses up a bit? Aidan says Caravaggio is both the fastest horse they've ever had at Ballydoyle and the only horse to touch 45mph on the imaginary gallops speedometer. I'm pretty sure we've heard something similar before about (certainly) Starspangledbanner (probably) Johannesburg and (possibly) Stravinsky. But who cares? It's all part of the great game. In order to live up to his billing, Caravaggio must win today's Commonwealth Cup - you simply couldn't be the fastest horse EVER to pass through Ballydoyle and not win this. But both Blue Point and Harry Angel carry considerable confidence from within their own yards. Throw into the mix a possible Wesley Ward bolt from the blue in Lady Aurelia's work companion Bound For Nowhere and you truly have the makings of a brilliant horse race.
1030: Good morning from Royal Ascot. The gates are open and Thunderbirds are Go for the fourth day of this marathon of top hats, toffs and terrific racing. Big Orange and Order Of St George raised the bar in terms of excitement yesterday - is there room for it to go any higher now that we have a good old Ballydoyle v Godolphin showdown ahead of us in the Commonwealth Cup today?