Ascot preview: Ideal conditions for Sioux Nation

On good-to-firm ground Sioux Nation’s form reads 2111 and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Scat Daddy colt can enhance that record by landing the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, set to be run on his ideal conditions, on the penultimate day of Royal Ascot 2018.

Winner of the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at this meeting in 2017, he won at the top level on his next outing, in the Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh, and wrapped up his juvenile season with a defeat on ground that had just gone against him. It also wasn’t in favour when beaten on his seasonal debut, but he stepped up to win a Group 3 at Naas with a considerable amount in hand.

Those two runs should have teed him up nicely for his return to the top level and he can prove too sharp for the progressive Equilateral and Heartache, the latter of which looked top-class last year and can be forgiven her comeback run. She can outrun odds of 20-1.

O’Brien looks to hold all the aces in the opening race, the Group 3 Albany Stakes, and Fairyland can take this at the expense of stable-companion Just Wonderful. The selection caused a minor upset when winning on debut and then turned over an odds-on stable-companion, Van Beethoven, when following up in the listed Marble Hill Stakes. On the latter occasion, she beat the colts comfortably and the form received a boost when third-placed Land Force was beaten by just half a length in yesterday’s Norfolk Stakes. Back against her own sex today and with plenty more to come she will be hard to beat.

The danger is her stablemate, Just Wonderful, whose maiden victory has worked out particularly well. She showed a great turn of foot to go clear on the far side of the track that day and then did just enough to beat Lethal Promise, who raced down the near side of the track.

The runner-up could hardly have been more impressive when winning her maiden next time, while third-placed Gossamer Wings was beaten just a short head in the Queen Mary here on Wednesday.

There’s little to separate Fairyland and Just Wonderful but the selection was so impressive in listed company against the colts it is hard to oppose her. She can prove the stronger in the finish.

Alpha Centauri can prove herself queen of the three-year-old fillies over a mile by taking the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. Like Sioux Nation, she is at her best on rattling fast ground, as she will get today, and the race should be run to suit the imposing filly.

She was just touched off in the Albany Stakes at this meeting in 2017 and bounced back from two modest runs on unsuitably soft ground with a terrific success in the Irish 1000 Guineas.

There’s no reason to believe she can’t step forward from that and she can give her trainer, Jessica Harrington, a maiden victory at Royal Ascot.

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