Darley-sired action on day four of Royal Ascot

Belardo and Exceed And Excel juveniles aiming to successfully step up in class, Royal Crusade bids to continue Shamardal’s legacy in G1 Commonwealth Cup

The fourth day of Ascot’s royal meeting offers another action-packed day and plenty of high-class racing with five Group contests on the card.

The G3 Albany Stakes sees this year’s crop of two-year-old fillies line up and Darley first-season sire Belardo will aim to continue his fantastic start at stud with Golden Melody. The Ennistown Stud-bred filly impressed on her debut at Haydock earlier this month and could be a strong contender to take the race.

Late Darley stallion Fast Company is represented by Bonne Vitesse, another filly who was impressive when breaking her maiden at Pontefract on Wednesday, 10 June.

Next it is the turn of the colts in the G2 Norfolk Stakes, where Exceed And Excel’s exciting son Eye Of Heaven will aim to build on the promise he showed at Newmarket at the start of the month.

Exceed And Excel recently sired his 500th juvenile winner – a feat no other stallion has ever achieved before.

Friday’s G1 contest is the Commonwealth Cup, for three-year-old sprinters, and Royal Crusade will bid to become the fifth G1 winner over six furlongs or less for his late sire Shamardal. Lightly raced, he won on his debut at Newmarket last year before placing second in both the G2 Champagne Stakes and G3 Prix Thomas Bryon.

Speed runs in the family, as Royal Crusade’s dam is a half-sister to the fast filly Floristry, herself the dam of Dubawi’s Lazuli, who scorched down the track at Sandown last week to win the five-furlong Scurry Stakes.

Former shuttler Brazen Beau is represented by Dubai Station, the horse who was third in last year’s Norfolk and who won the G3 Pavilion Stakes at Newcastle on his three-year-old debut.

Later on the card, the G2 Queen’s Vase will see another smart son of Dubawi, Al Dabaran, aim to provide his sire with further Royal Ascot success, following Lord North’s superb G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes win on Wednesday and Khaloosy's four-and-a-half-length victory in the Britannia and Onassis' success in the Sandringham on Thursday.

From the family of Masked Marvel and Waldgeist, Al Dabaran is bred to stay the extra distance and should relish the rain-softened ground.

Late Darley stallion Halling is represented in the G2 Hardwicke Stakes by seasoned campaigner Desert Encounter, a two-time G1 winner who is still going strong at the age of eight.

This is the race won by Dubawi’s Dartmouth, who provided Her Majesty The Queen with a Royal Ascot winner in 2016.