Royal Ascot Thursday Preview

The feature race on day three of Royal Ascot is the most famous and prestigious race of the week – the Gold Cup. Favourite Stradivarius is looking to win this famous two-and-a-half-mile contest back-to-back and he won a £1m bonus last year for winning the Stayers’ Million. The 5-y-old is unbeaten since October 2017 and is the one to beat but he is short enough at Evens with BetVictor and marginal preference is for last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter (4.20).

The selection has not yet raced beyond two miles, but he certainly wasn’t stopping at Flemington over 2m back in November and he impressed when readily disposing of his field in the Dubai Gold Cup at the end of March. At 4/1 with BetVictor I would be disappointed if he didn’t run a big race and he gets the each way vote although I’m sure connections would not want the ground to be any worse than good to soft.

In the opening Gp 2 Norfolk Stakes a big run from Southern Hills in the Windsor Castle Stakes on Wednesday would be a good pointer to the chances of Air Force Jet who rallied close home to win a Navan maiden under a claimer at the beginning of the month.

The vote, however, goes to fellow Irish raider Sunday Sovereign (2.30) who has won his last couple of starts and looked well above average when making most at Tipperary last time. The selection is 5/2 at BetVictor who are betting each way four places on the race.

The next is a top-class renewal of the Gp3 Hampton Court Stakes for the classic generation over 10f. Cape Of Good Hope finished ahead of Cap Francais at Epsom back in April and is the 5/1 joint favourite alongside Fox Chairman. The latter didn’t get the best of runs when a staying on third at Chester behind Circus Maximus in the Dee Stakes and that form was given a major boost when the latter won the St James’s Palace Stakes on the opening day.

The each way vote, however, goes to King Ottoker (3.15) who palpably failed to stay when down the field in the Chester Vase over the extended mile-and-a-half last month. The selection had previously won a 10f Newbury Novice event and at 9/1 with BetVictor – who are betting four places – he is another each way recommendation.

Fleeting (3.50) was one of my bets of the week until the rains arrived on Tuesday although I cannot desert the filly who was a fast-finishing third in the Oaks earlier in the month. Connections have supplemented the filly for today’s Gp 2 Ribblesdale Stakes but her ability to handle soft ground would have to be taken on trust although she does look an out-and-out stayer.

The Britannia Handicap looks a minefield but my two against the field are Andrew Balding’s Hero Hero and Turgenev (5.00) with marginal preference for the John Gosden-trained colt. The selection has been running over 10f so far this season but has form on soft ground and the return to a mile should suit. The each way recommendation is 14/1 at BetVictor who are betting each way five places.

In the concluding King George V Handicap over 12f a high draw has been an advantage in recent years, but I hope to see a big run from Babbo’s Boy (5.35) who is drawn in stall one for Michael Bell as he chases his hat-trick. The grey was beaten 6L by Mark Johnston’s Sir Ron Priestley at Ripon on his reappearance, but he was denied a clear run at the two-furlong pole and was allowed to coast home.

He is 3lbs better off with Sir Ron Priestley this afternoon and is bred to appreciate today’s slower ground perhaps more so than the Johnston-trained colt. At 12/1 with BetVictor – who are paying 5 places – he is another each way recommendation.

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