Commonwealth Cup Wide Open as Fancied Contenders Miss Out

Since being introduced to the Royal Ascot menu in 2015, the Day 4 highlight of the Commonwealth Cup has blossomed to become the premier three-year-old-only 6f event of the British season, being won by superstar names such as Muhaarar, Caravaggio, and Shaquille, who completed his remarkable ascent through the ranks in the 2023 edition.

Now one of the most anticipated events of the meeting, the 2024 edition appeared set to provide a titanic clash between the fastest of the fast, with several of the juvenile sprint stars from 2023 lined up to do battle. However, in the lead-up to the event, the race has been robbed of a little lustre, with the confirmation that two of the biggest draws will miss out.

Commonwealth Cup Odds in Full - Royal Ascot 2024
Commonwealth Cup Odds – Royal Ascot 2024

Abnormal Blood Count Rules Out Favourite

Beginning life in a low-key Class 5 contest at Nottingham, the Simon & Ed Crisford-trained Vandeek confirmed himself a star in the making when blitzing through the juvenile sprinting division in 2023. He ended the campaign with four wins from as many starts, including a hugely impressive 2¼l success in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Hot favourite for this event ever since that success at HQ, he just about hung on to that status despite an underwhelming return in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock. However, it appears that all may not be right with this son of Havana Grey, with an abnormal blood count ruling Vandeek out of his Royal assignment. All being well, the colt will be back for a crack at the July Cup in three weeks.

Travel Sick Irish Challenger Misses Out

In the absence of Vandeek, Adrian Murray’s Bucanero Fuerte appeared set to challenge for favouritism following a similarly impressive two-year-old season. Showing a liking for this track when an admirable third in a 20-runner edition of the Coventry Stakes over the Commonwealth Cup course and distance, he stepped up on that effort to win the Group 2 Railway Stakes. He then put in a sizzling display to slam the field by 4l in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

Making his return when winning under a penalty in the Group 3 Lacken Stakes, he appeared all set to run a mighty race at Ascot. Unfortunately, that challenge won’t come to pass. In a fine illustration that horses are not machines, Bucanero Fuerte appears not to have enjoyed the journey over from Ireland and arrived in the UK with travel sickness. Comfortable following a night in the Newmarket Equine Hospital, he will, nevertheless, miss his major early season target.

Al Maktoum Now Holds the Aces?

The absence of Vandeek and Bucanero Fuerte is disappointing for racing fans, but happily, the duo will be back to fight another day, and the 2024 edition is still set to be an enthralling contest.

When viewing the revised market, powerful owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum appears to boast a particularly strong hand, with the top two in the betting set to carry his famous Yellow Silks with Black Spots. Supplementary entry Inisherin leads the way, having mastered Vandeek in the Sandy Lane Stakes, whilst Carnarvon Stakes winner Elite Status will get a second crack at Royal Ascot glory, following a third-placed effort in the 2023 Norfolk Stakes.