As we move towards the weekend at Royal Ascot there are two more Group 1 races on Friday's card and the first of those is the Commonwealth Cup.
|When||3.05, Friday 23rd June|
|How to watch||bet365 live sports streaming, ITV & Sky Sports Racing|
|Odds||Little Big Bear 1/1, Sakheer 4/1, Lezoo 9/1, Shaquille 10/1, Noble Style 12/1, Mischief Magic 16/1, Ocean Quest 16/1|
Little Big Bear @ 1/1
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Top sprinting 2YO last season for Ballydoyle, counting the Windsor Castle here and the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh amongst a tally of four wins. He swept clear to win by seven-lengths in the latter race.
Didn't fire in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket upped to a mile on comeback but won the Sandy Lane at Haydock since back over this trip, with Shouldvebeenaring in second and Tuesday's King's Stand winner Bradsell a distant third. Sets a high bar here.
Sakheer @ 4/1
Trainer: Roger Varian
Jockey: David Egan
Impressive winner of the Group 2 Mill Reef at over this trip on final 2YO start, he was midfield in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in last month's return to action, seemingly failing to see the mile trip out adequately.
Always liable to return to sprinting off the back of that effort and horses dropping in trip tend to do well in this contest. Retains plenty potential for better.
Lezoo @ 9/1
Trainer: Ralph Beckett
Jockey: Frankie Dettori
Wins in the Princess Margaret Stakes here and the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket were cornerstones in a fine 2YO campaign that saw this filly record figures of 11211 – with impressive 1000 Guineas winner Mawj the only rival to beat her.
Moved well for a long way herself in that Rowley Mile Classic last month before failing to get home. It's no shock to find her reverting to sprinting and the filly is a key player in receipt of her allowance now.
Shaquille @ 10/1
Trainer: Julie Camacho
Jockey: Oisin Murphy
Just a single defeat in his six-race career and that came when he was too keen in the Acomb at York last summer won by top-notcher Chaldean. Easy winner of a soft-ground Newmarket handicap on his comeback in May off a mark of 94 and has followed up since in Listed company at Newbury, making all with today's rival Noble Style the beaten favourite in fourth.
Can get himself worked up in the prelims so must prove he can handle the occasion.
Noble Style @ 12/1
Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Jockey: James Doyle
Kingman colt unbeaten in three starts last season, winning York's Gimcrack on the last of those.
Prepared for a tilt at the 2000 Guineas where he finished a solid sixth without appearing to relish the mile test, he blotted his copybook since with a below-par effort in a Listed race at Newbury won by Shaquille with a dominant front-running display.
Cheekpieces are deployed in his bounce-back attempt, though William Buick has hopped off in favour of stablemate Mischief Magic.
A field of 14 were declared for the Commonwealth Cup but that has been reduced to 13 after C&D trial winner Cold Case became an absentee.
Outside of the top five in betting there are some very solid contenders hoping to cause an upset – though it can be noted that in the eight-year history of this race only two winners have returned at double-figure SPs, with 12/1 Eqtidaar in 2018 for Sir Michael Stoute the biggest priced winner.
The aforementioned Mischief Magic (16/1) is the mount of champion jockey William Buick and gives Charlie Appleby a second contender.
He had some useful form last season, including a Group 3 on Kempton's Polytrack in September and winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland but he was eased off finishing last of eight in a C&D trial for this race in last month's comeback. A tongue-tie is added now.
Colin Keane enjoyed his breakthrough Royal Ascot success on Wednesday and the Irish pilot once more teams up with Jessica Harrington here on Ocean Quest (16/1). The filly was impressive in her Navan Listed win on comeback and only narrowly failed to overhaul The Antarctic at Naas in the Lacken Stakes since. After just five starts, she's still progressing and this stiff test should appeal to her.
Shouldvebeenaring (20/1) got closest to Little Big Bear at Haydock last month, despite the winner having a tactical advantage and Richard Hannon will have been encouraged by that run.
Marbaan (33/1) was solid last season though came up shy at Group 1 level and Charlie Fellowes' son of Oasis Dream was behind Run To Freedom in the Listed Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury last month. A career-best is needed now.
The same can be said of Kevin Ryan's Queen Me (40/1) and the Karl Burke-trained Swingalong (40/1), though both are dropping back to sprinting having raced at a mile this term and that is a formula that has paid dividends in this race quite often.