The Duke – Royal Ascot Day Three

A very, very tough day ahead. I think potentially the hardest day of the week! But here we go.

The opening race on day three is the Norfolk Stakes at 2.30pm and it is a typically open affair, as many of the races at Ascot have been so far. Let’s start with McErin who has apparently been working well on turf. Both starts in the US have been on dirt and while it’s difficult to translate that against the British and Irish contingent, the suspicion is he should be short in the market for this. If you can get 4/1 I would not put you off. Equally, the form of Santry is stacking up well (the runner-up and fourth behind at York have both won since) and he looks a chief danger. Havana Grey won a Listed prize at Sandown last time and for me he is the one to beat, because the fourth from that contest Sound And Silence won the Windsor Castle on Tuesday. Havana Grey each-way for me in the first at 8/1.

The second race is the Hampton Court Stakes over a mile and a quarter. Ryan Moore prefers Orderofthegarter to Taj Mahal, so that might be a note in itself. Both are respected, but I’m more drawn to others. Mirage Dancer will need to improve on a Listed fourth at Chester last time, but he’s by Frankel and could have significant improvement in him. Benbatl ran a very creditable fifth in the Derby and was second in the Dante. I think he’s got leading claims, but I’ve come down on Irishcorrespondent, who I think is overpriced. His third from the Irish 2000 Guineas reads well given he split two horses who placed in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes (Thunder Snow/Lancaster Bomber). He’s only had three runs and the step up to this trip could be the making of him. 11/2 seems more than fair.

The Ribblesdale Stakes is next on the card at 3.40. Mori is pretty short in the market. She is a very beautifully bred filly, by Frankel out of the outstanding mare Midday. She’s about as close to equine royalty as you can get on pedigree. She could be good enough and she won nicely at Goodwood last time. Astronomy’s Choice and Naughty Or Nice are both a bit long in the market and are interesting for each-way punters. However, Alluringly placed in the Oaks at Epsom and sets the standard on the formbook. While the previous three probably have more potential, I think in this race Alluringly’s experience may just give her the advantage.

The big race at 4.20 is the Ascot Gold Cup. What an interesting race this is to try and get your teeth stuck in to. Trip To Paris won this race in 2015 but is 40/1 in the market. Problem is, he went to Australia, finished fourth in the Melbourne Cup and he’s been nothing like it since. Big Orange loves two miles and given his tendency to front-run, I’d be a bit worried he will tire himself out too early in this. Harbour Law won last year’s St Leger but was dreadful on return behind Sweet Selection. The latter is facing easily her biggest task to date, but she is a progressive horse and would not be the first to step up from handicap company to be a Group horse over marathon distances. She has place claims at 14/1. The two that interest me most are Simple Verse and Order Of St George. Ralph Beckett is confident about Simple Verse and she has decent form at the track. Order Of St George is the class act in the field and I think he will be tough to beat if on song. He won this last year, before a few blips, although his third in the Arc behind Found was another big performance. I think he’ll win.

The Britannia Stakes. Where to start on this. A hatful of these could win it, but I’ll draw you to three. Starting with Leader’s Legacy who ran well at Haydock last time. The handicapper was not overly harsh by bumping him up 5lbs and he remains of interest of a mark of 94. Medahim is 25/1 and that’s too big. He probably would have won at Goodwood last time if he’d got a clear run and had he done so, he’d be half the price in the betting. He will also handle the quick ground. Finally, another Richard Hannon horse Son Of The Stars, who is the pick. He looked like the winner at Newmarket most recently, but he hated the dip at that notoriously tricky track. When he hit it, he lost all momentum and had to be corrected by Sean Levey. The handicapper noticed as he was immediately bumped up 6lbs despite not winning. Those are my three bites at the cherry.

The final race is the King George V Stakes over a mile and a half. Drochaid has been in good form, but has snuck up the weights. Atty Persse remains with potential but is a little short in the market for me. I’m sure each-way punters will be drawn to Homesman with Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien teaming up with the Group 3 winner. He does however carry a hefty weight. Mark Johnston has won the race five times before and Sofia’s Rock clearly loves fast ground. He has gone up 6lbs for his most recent run at Haydock, but must enter equations. I’ll dutch him with Master Singer. John Gosden puts cheekpieces on to the Newcastle maiden winner, who was so far clear of his rivals, the jockey would have needed binoculars to see the others. He still has potential too and that’s enough for me to chance him.

The Duke’s Picks Day Three
Norfolk Stakes – Havana Grey each-way
Hampton Court Stakes – Irishcorrespondent
Ribblesdale Stakes – Alluringly
Ascot Gold Cup – Order Of St George
The Britannia Stakes – Son Of The Stars
King George V Stakes – Sofia Rock / Master Singer

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