The Jim Crowley-ridden Eqtidaar sprang a big surprise to win the day’s big race, the Commonwealth Cup, at Royal Ascot.


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The Jim Crowley-ridden Eqtidaar sprang a big surprise to win the day’s big race, the Commonwealth Cup, at Royal Ascot.

The fourth running of the race saw the winner held on for trainer Sir Michael Stoute from the strong-finishing Sands Of Mali in second with Emblazoned in third. The success also provided a change of luck for Crowley, who had gone close with three second place finishes this week, on Battaash, Afaak and Corgi.

The field split into two groups, with six coming up the stands’ side with the remainder of the field in the centre of the track. Emblazoned hit the front a furlong out but he was already beaten when the winner came across him slightly close to home.

Despite drifting towards the left inside the final furlong to give the chasing pack some glimmer of hope, Eqtidaar clung on to win by half a length. First home on the stands’ side was Sands Of Mal to take second. Sioux Nation, representing the Aidan O’Brien-Ryan Moore axis, was the well-supported favourite but never posed a threat.

Crowley was full of praise for Eqtidaar’s trainer Stoute afterwards, saying, “He’s trained by a genius. “I knew Eqtidaar had potential. He’d been working fantastic at home and I knew today he had a great chance.”Stoute added “We’ve always liked this horse. It didn’t go right for him in the Pavilion and he was on the wrong side of the track at Newbury last time. He’s progressing nicely.”

The day’s other big Group 1 race, The Coronation Stakes, saw Alpha Centauri prove the star act of the meeting in record-breaking style. With three Classic-winning fillies – including Billesdon Brook, winner of the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, and Teppal who took the French version – in a strong field, this was always going to be a mouthwatering contest and so it proved.

Alpha Centauri, the Irish 1000 Guineas trained by Jessica Harrington, was prompted by jockey Colm O’Donoghue to win her race and she cruised past leader Veracious and drew further clear through the final two furlongs. The victory margin of six lengths was every bit as dominant as it sounds, with Threading left to pick up the pieces in second and Veracious hanging on for third as neither Billesdon Brook nor Teppal could offer any challenge.

The day’s opener, the Albany Stakes, was won by the Mark Johnston-trained Main Edition. The winner was chased home by La Pelosa, who only narrowly failed to keep her unbeaten record in going down by a neck, with Fairyland third for Aidan O’Brien. In the King Edward VII Stakes, Old Persian continued Charlie Appleby’s memorable year when winning the ‘Ascot Derby’.

After stalking Raa Atoll to the two-furlong pole, the William Buick-ridden winner seized command and stayed on strongly to beat Rostropovich by a length and three-quarters. Guiseppe Garibaldi was a neck back in third. In the Sandringham Stakes, Agrotera came from last to first under Jamie Spencer to prove herself a class above her rivals.

Spencer had won the race 12 months ago aboard the Wesley Ward-trained Con Te Partiro, and a repeat performance looked all the more likely as Agrotera made progress two furlongs out. The race favourite surged to the front inside the final furlong and powered clear of outsider Ortiz to score by two and three-quarter lengths.

The Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes was the final race of day and saw Dash Of Spice justify favouritism under Silvestre de Sousa. The jockey always had Jeff-Smith’s colt handy and sent him onto victory two furlongs out.

He repelled the strong challenge of Appeared, who weakened in the final furlong, and held off the fast-finishing Sir Chauvelin, with Walton Street in third. For De Sousa, the victory represented a second success of the week following Ostilio in yesterday’s Britannia Stakes.

Saturday’s final day of this year’s Royal Ascot meeting is headlined by the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at 4.20pm GMT


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