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Royal Ascot tips: Safecracker looking to unlock potential in Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes

The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes might not offer the biggest prize on Friday's card, but there's enough quality on show to give Royal Ascot race-goers plenty to get excited about.

16:25 Royal Ascot: Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes 

  • Race details: 1 mile 4 furlongs, Handicap, 3-year-olds+
  • 2023 winner: Okita Soushi (9/1), Ryan Moore (J) - Joseph Patrick O’Brien (T)
  • Recent Trends: 16/18 winners came from a double-digit stall, 6/12 winning favourites 

Safecracker has had the ideal prep run which saw him finish a never-nearer fifth of 12 from the back of the field (beaten only 2¾ lengths) in a valuable 10-furlong handicap at the Curragh in late May.

Planet Sport Bet Royal Ascot Special: Bet £20+ cash on any runner in the race and if Safecracker finishes in the first 4 places, get a £5 Free Bet!

It took place on good ground and Safecracker hadn’t raced for 292 days so was understandably sluggish at the start, so his effort, given that the race was two furlongs shorter than today’s, was a very encouraging one that should set him up perfectly for a return to his optimum 12-furlong trip on a very similar type of track.

Indeed, his last success also came at the Curragh, and it came over 1½ miles on good-firm ground, so this combination of conditions is almost identical.

That last win came in the very valuable Ragusa Handicap, in which he beat 10 high-class handicappers from a wide draw, perfectly produced down the rail to hit the front inside the final furlong and he was comfortably on top at the line.

Suggested best bet: Safecracker each-way in the 16:25 at Royal Ascot

The runner-up, Zoffman, is a very good yardstick in that he regularly produces big performances in valuable high-class handicaps and was last seen going very close in the Cork Derby last week.

Off just 4lb higher under very similar conditions, Safecracker looks a leading contender who has plenty of very good form in big-field handicaps, including finishing runner-up in no less than five premier handicaps and beating 74 of the 79 rivals he faced in them.

Significantly, the only premier handicap he has contested over 12f on a galloping, right-handed track with good-firm ground was the one he won, so under his favourite conditions he looks primed to peak again after his latest comeback run.

 

Of the others, Shadow Dance is a much more lightly-raced and will probably be ready to run a big race first-time-out for a trainer who can prepare them expertly to do so.

The four-year-old, who won on return from his previous break, has had only two handicap runs so far, with only one rival being able to beat him (and only by half a length).

That came on his final run of last season when he finished  runner-up of 10 in the very valuable Old Rowley Cup, a Class 2 handicap over 12 furlongs at Newmarket.

The front pair pulled a long way clear that day, and the narrow winner was Alsakib, whom we supported when he finished  fourth of 16 in the Copper Horse Handicap here on Tuesday.

That makes the form line look very strong, so if Shadow Dance is ready first time out, he is bound to be a big threat provided he handles this quicker ground.

Next best bet: Shadow Dance each-way in the 16:25 at Royal Ascot

 

 

READ MORE: Royal Ascot Friday tips: Best bets for ITV action on Day 4, June 21

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