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Byline: Tom Segal

THE QUEEN has not had too much luck this week, although Carlton House ran a great race to be second in the Prince of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday. However, the Ascot crowd could be cheering home a royal winner this afternoon with Estimate in the Queen's Vase (5.00).

This is always one of the weaker races of the week and it is normally won by Mark Johnston, but surprisingly he does not have a runner this year and there aren't many who make much appeal.

The winner is invariably a strong stayer as the two miles is an extremely stiff test for three-year-olds at this stage of the season - and if ever a horse was bred for the job it is Estimate, who could barely have a more stamina-laden pedigree, being a half-sister to the Ascot Gold Cup winner Enzeli.

On form Estimate has a lot to find but she stayed on strongly to land a decent maiden at Salisbury on softish ground on her reappearance and she will improve a lot for that run and the step up in trip on soft ground.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Athens is the form horse but is far from certain to stay the trip on the ground and Estimate looks a decent bet at 6-1. The Wolferton Handicap (4.25) does not look as competitive as usual as both Mijhaar and Gatewood standout. It is hard to pick between the two but it has been hard to win drawn low on the round course this week with all sorts of trouble on the rail. That might change but Mijhaar could be in trouble from stall two.

Gatewood is improving fast and might be the one if he handles the ground, while Danadana won the Zetland Gold Cup more easily than the head margin would suggest.

Dandana has to prove he is as good on soft ground as he is on fast, though, and so at 10-1 it could be worth chancing the rapidly improving mare Qaraaba at 10-1. This mare is rapidly improving and handled the soft ground well when scoring at Doncaster last time. She will need a strong pace from her outside draw but she should get it and I like to follow mares on a roll.

The concluding Buckingham Palace Handicap (5.30)looks difficulty, especially with doubts about the draw. I suggest backing one on each side and, from those berthed high, Global Village should go well after his Victoria Cup win over course and distance last time. The ground has come in his favour and he looks sure to go close.

Of those drawn low, I cannot work out how Imperial Djay can be a 20-1 shot. He is in the form of his life and comes from a stable that has a great record in 7f-1m handicaps.

Imperial Djay has won well the last twice, despite not having the run of the race at Chester, and I believe he still has races in him off his current mark.

The issue is whether he will be as effective at this track, but he ran well despite being hampered a few times in a similar race last season off a similar mark and he is in much better form at the moment.

Today's bets Qaraaba 4.25 Ascot 1pt win at 10-1 with Paddy Power (9-1 with Hills) Estimate 5.00 Ascot 1pt win at 6-1 generally Imperial Djay 5.35 Ascot 1pt win at 20-1 with Betfred or Coral Global Village 5.35 Ascot 1pt win at 12-1 with Ladbrokes

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Racegoers enjoying the sunshine in the silver ring at Royal Ascot yesterday
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 22, 2012
Words:610
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