The third day of Royal Ascot, previously known as ‘Laydees Day’, will at least provide some respite from the exorbitant temperatures that have prevailed since Tuesday and that is probably to the great relief of the 14 horses going to post for the Gold Cup at 4.20.
Favourite for the race, at a shade of odds on, is last year’s winner Order of St George, trained by You Know Who and ridden by Himself. On the face of it, let’s be realistic, this 5-y-o should repeat the dose, but recommending a bet on a 10-11 fav does not get the juices running, so, just in case things do not go to plan for Ballydoyle, we suggest an each way punt on dear old Sheikhzayedroad at 12-1.
Staying on into 3rd last year, albeit 5 lengths adrift of ‘George’, Shakey ended last season with a victory in the Qipco Champions Long Distance Cup on this course, with four of today’s rivals, including George in his wake and, in two runs at Meydan this spring, has shown himself to be as good as ever. With Martin Harley well used to the horse’s quirks, maybe we’ll see a Gold Cup winner pass the post while looking sideways at the crowd.
Today’s action begins with the 5f Norfolk Stakes at 2.30, with 18 2-y-os flashing up the course. It was clear yesterday that there was a pronounced bias developing towards the stands rail and, if continued into today, this will seriously disadvantage the low drawn runners.
As per, the Wesley Ward runner is favourite, but we beg to oppose with an e/w bet on Karl Burke’s Havana Grey at 8-1. In winning a Listed contest at Sandown last time out, this horse had Tuesday’s Windsor Castle Stakes winner Sound and Silence back in fourth and can test out the favourite’s resolve from Trap 14. We also suggest a tiny saver on Joseph O’Brien’s runner True Blue Moon at 16-1, as, if collateral form means anything(?), it will be close between the two.
The ten furlong Hampton Court Stakes at 3.05 looks nailed on for the Derby fifth, Godolphin’s Benbatl, who takes a big drop in class, has a good draw and will relish the ground. At 9-2, a lumpy e/w bash is recommended.
The Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at 3.40 has a short priced favourite in Sir Michael’s Mori at 2-1, but this represents a big step up on anything previously achieved and we prefer the chances of the unbeaten Naughty Or Nice from John Oxx’s yard. Unlike many in this field, Naughty’s stamina is already proven, as is her ability to act on a fast surface and with first time blinkers to help, 8-1 is an attractive price each way.
The Britannia Stakes, a handicap over the straight mile has attracted a field of 29 3-y-os and it’s 7-1 the field. Frankly, I’d rather not.
Thursday’s action concludes with the King George V Stakes, another 3-y-o handicap, this time over 1m4f, with a field of just 19 due to pitch up.
This time it’s 6-1 the field, which brings in Atty Persse, a horse drawn 22 of 19.
On the grounds that it is unlikely to win from the wrong side of the running rail, we recommend an each way bet on Twin Star at a tasty 50-1.
Sheila Lavery’s horse won a Navan maiden going away, before finishing 4th in a Group 3 at the Curragh, won by Homesman. In its first handicap today, Twin Star is well in with that horse and yet is more than four times the price.
You want value? We give you value.