Pierre Lapin leads 17 contenders for Commonwealth glory

American raider Kimari another leading hope on day four of Royal Ascot.

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Unbeaten favourite Pierre Lapin is one of 17 horses declared for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on Friday.

Roger Varian’s colt made a huge impression when making a winning debut at Haydock last May and followed up comfortably on his only subsequent outing in the in the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury in September.

His biggest threat from Britain could be the more experienced Golden Horde. Clive Cox’s Vintage Stakes victor has already run with credit at the highest level, having been placed in both the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes last term.

Frankie Dettori and American trainer Wesley Ward team up with Kimari, who was only narrowly denied Royal Ascot glory 12 months ago when touched off by Raffle Prize in the Queen Mary.

Last week’s Irish 2,000 Guineas third Lope Y Fernandez turns out just seven days later for Aidan O’Brien, who also saddles Pistoletto, Royal Lytham and Southern Hills.

Other hopefuls include the Jessica Harrington-trained Millisle, Francis-Henri Graffard’s French raider Wooded and Dubai Station from Karl Burke’s yard.

The main supporting race on the penultimate day of the Royal meeting this year is the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes, which has attracted a field of 11 runners.

O’Brien relies on last year’s Investec Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck, who made an encouraging start to the season when runner-up to Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket a fortnight ago.

The son of Galileo heads the betting ahead of Mark Johnston’s Elarqam, who steps up to a mile and a half for the first time after being touched off by Lord North in the 10-furlong Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Haydock.

Defoe, Morando and Fanny Logan also feature.

Johnston saddles his big hope of the week in the Norfolk Stakes in the exciting Eye Of Heaven.

Strong vibes were justified when the Exceed And Excel colt made a winning debut under Dettori at Newmarket recently and the the same combination bid to follow up in this five-furlong Group Two.

Eye Of Heaven’s 13 opponents include Ward’s US challenger Golden Pal, Michael Bell’s runaway Yarmouth winner The Lir Jet and O’Brien’s Lipizzaner.

The first of five Pattern races on the card is the six-furlong Albany Stakes, which carries Group Three status.

Seven of the 14 fillies declared have won their only start to date, including Ward’s Flying Aletha, Burke’s Dandalla, the William Haggas-trained Golden Melody and Varian’s pair of Setarhe and Undertake.

O’Brien has not declared ante-post favourite More Beautiful, instead relying on Navan runner-up Mother Earth.

Nine runners are set to go to post for the Group Two Queen’s Vase, with Charlie Appleby’s Al Dabaran and Andrew Balding’s Berkshire Rocco the two at the head of the market, ahead of O’Brien’s pair of Nobel Prize and and Santiago.

Haggas has declared Born With Pride for one-mile-six-furlong contest after she was taken out of Tuesday’s Ribblesdale Stakes.

Pierre Lapin leads 17 contenders for Commonwealth glory
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