Duke of Edinburgh Stakes: Cox to Steer Kasperenko to DoE Victory

Duke of Edinburgh Stakes: Cox to Steer Kasperenko to DoE Victory

5.35 Ascot

Another day, another full handicap field at Royal Ascot and this time it’s the turn of the older mile-and-a-half horses.

This is a quality line-up and while there are plenty in with chances, the key piece of recent British form comes from York and their hot recent Race to the Ebor Jorvik Handicap over this trip, but there could just be a real improver in the field ready to hit his peak at the right time.

Ben Vrackie

Princess Haya, John Gosden and Frankie Dettori are a crack combination and given the way top trainers can get their horses to run first time out these days this son of Frankel has to hold a very serious chance.

Fittingly for a three-year-old, Ben Vrackie was just improving nicely as last season went on and after several attempts at longer distances, connections settled on this mile-and-a-half trip for his final run at Newmarket where he finished an excellent third behind Rock Eagle.  He’ll go on again from that and runs here off the same handicap mark.

Corgi

Hughie Morrison has won this race three times in the last 16 years and as Telecaster has shown us this season, he remains as adept as ever at training these middle-distance types.

Corgi was third in the aforementioned Jorvik Handicap behind First Eleven; the winner looking superb, Fujaira Prince (2nd) and Collide (4th) running here and 5th placed Caliburn having won easily since.

This gelding needed the run that day, is just 1lb higher now, was second by a neck to Baghdad in the 3yo version of this race last season and was beaten just two lengths in the Melrose.  His form is close to the best on offer and on paper he’s the solid choice.

Downdraft

Although slightly disappointing over 1m2f last time out, Joseph O’Brien’s son of Camelot was very good over this trip at Dundalk the time before and while the form isn’t the best, he has the potential to improve further and these conditions should be up his avenue.

Fujaira Prince

Runner-up in the Jorvik, it stands to reason he’d be well fancied here but there are some niggles.  He was race-fit that day and went off favourite, while visually his win over a mile-and-a-quarter at Doncaster was more impressive.

Piecing that together with the fact he is by Pivotal rather gives the impression he may not fully appreciate this distance, and in this sort of race if he doesn’t stay the distance he will be found out for sure.  He is lightly raced though and retains plenty of potential.

Kasperenko

While Corgi is the solid one in the race, this horse could be the real springer so it’ll be interesting to watch the betting markets in the lead-up to the event.

The trip and ground are fine for him and he is all set for a big run, but it’s his profile which is interesting.  Going back to when he was trained by David Lanigan it seems he can be just as good on turf as he is on the all-weather, yet he is now rated 6lbs lower on the grass which gives him a huge advantage.

He finished last season when trained by Brendan Powell with a Listed success at Kempton while giving the impression he has even more to give and, with no disrespect meant to Powell, the shift to Clive Cox can also help him.  His speed figures and handicap mark really stand out at this trip and he may have a little bit to spare.

Secret Advisor

After almost two years off the track it remains to be seen how well Charlie Appleby’s gelding will see this out, but he clearly has the talent to take a hand.

Having beaten Bin Battuta and finished third to Stradivarius in the Queen’s Vase his form is top notch, though he has to race here off a mark 7lbs higher than when last seen after such a long break which may be tough enough.

Summary

If – and it is a big if – Secret Advisor is fully fit and ready to go after his extended break then he can resume improvement and holds a place chance, especially since he stays 1m6f.

Corgi is the most solid horse on paper for sure but he will be priced accordingly, while at the odds and taking into account the potential for his being well-handicapped on the turf this KASPERENKO could be worth chancing.

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