Royal Ascot Thursday Preview

Welcome to our coverage of the third day of Royal Ascot – Ladies Day – which features the prestigious Gold Cup.

The Group One Gold Cup – one of the oldest races in the world having been first run on 1807 – is the highlight of Wednesday.

We bring you an easy guide to every race with our own betting expert The Duke and from a bookmaker, this week we are joined in our coverage by BetVictor’s Jack Milner.

The Duke also has a full preview of every day of the meeting, with his selections – and you can read Day Three here.

2.30 Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) 5f £100,000

Field:McErin (4), Santry (13/2), Havana Grey (8), True Blue Moon (9), It Dont Come Easy (10), Nine Below Zero (10), Frozen Angel (14), Cardsharp (16), Consequences (16), Koditime (22), Billy Dylan (25), Rock of Estonia (25), Sioux Nation (25), Viscount Loftus (25), Gift In Time (33), Pilkington (33), New Empire (66), Poorauldjosephine (200)
The Duke’s view:  The opening race on day three 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.
BetVictor say:  Ladies Day at Royal Ascot begins with the Norfolk Stakes and the American juvenile McErin represents the yard of Wesley Ward who won this corresponding race back in 2013 courtesy of No Nay Never. The handler had a winner courtesy of Lady Aurelia on the opening day of the meeting you would imagine there would be plenty of support for McErin – although he was beaten last time out at Churchill Downs when last seen on dirt back in May. The each way recommendation, however, is Santry who represents the Malton yard of Declan Carroll and is unbeaten in two starts. The selection has not raced on fast ground but was impressive at York when giving weight and a beating to his seven rivals last time and at 6/1 with BetVictor he can keep the prize in Britain.

3.05 Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3) 1m 2f £90,000

Field:Mirage Dancer (4), Benbatl (9/2), Irishcorrespondent (11/2), Tamleek (8), Orderofthegarter (10), Bay Of Poets (12), Taj Mahal (12), Larchmont Lad (16), Gold Spinner (18), Rodaini (25), Grey Britain (28), Emenem (33), Speedo Boy (33), Kings Gift (40), Mucho Applause (50), Savile Row (50), Jakes Hill (66)
The Duke’s view:  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.
BetVictor say: The Hampton Court Stakes has been won by the favourite in three of the last four years and BetVictor’s 4/1 market leader Mirage Dancer ran an eye-catching race when fourth to the subsequent Derby runner up Cliffs Of Moher. A son of Frankel he is open to considerable improvement for Sir Michael Stoute and should reward each-way support with most firms paying four places.

3.40 Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) 1m 4f £200,000

Field: Alluringly (3), Mori (7/2), Coronet (13/2), Astronomys Choice (10), Hertford Dancer (11), Naughty Or Nice (12), Coconut Creme (20), Gracious Diana (20), Serenada (20), Rich Legacy (25), Apphia (33), The Sky Is Blazing (33)
The Duke’s view:  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.
BetVictor say:The beautifully bred Mori is a fascinating contender in the Ribblesdale and, after already receiving favourable market support, is a confident selection to land the Gp 2 content over a mile and a half. Newmarket gallop watchers were raving about this beautifully bred filly’s home-work and, after proving too inexperienced on debut at Newbury, shed the maiden tag at the second attempt under Ryan Moore at Ascot.
The Frankel filly, out of the multiple group one winning mare Midday, was well-backed prior to taking the Height of Fashion Stakes at Goodwood and this royal engagement appears to have been a well-thought out plan by trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

4.20 Gold Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 1) 2m 4f £400,000

Field: Order Of St George (Evs), Big Orange (8), Simple Verse (8), Sheikhzayedroad (12), Sheikzayedroad (12), Sweet Selection (14), Torcedor (16), Quest For More (18), Endless Time (20), Harbour Law (25), Prince of Arran (40), Trip To Paris (40), Nearly Caught (50), She Is No Lady (50), Harrison (66)
The Duke’s view:  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.
BetVictor say: The Gold Cup is the highlight of the meeting for many and last year’s winner Order Of St George is the one to beat and should give trainer Aidan O’Brien a 301st Group/Grade 1 success over both codes. The well-bred son of Galileo has been brought to the boil steadily by the Master of Ballydoyle; beaten when not fully found up on his seasonal reappearance but better than ever when bolting-up in the Gold Cup trial last month at Leopardstown.
He looks to have glimpses of former Ballydoyle star Yeats and it would be of no surprise if this hard and dour colt were to come back and win Thursday feature next year at the royal meeting.

5.00 Britannia Handicap (0-105) 1m £120,000

Field: Son Of The Stars (7), City Of Joy (10), Leaders Legacy (14), Tricorn (14)
Afaak (16), Ronald R (16), Colibri (20), Gilgamesh (20), Lightening Fast (20), Naval Warfare (20), The Grape Escape (20), Bless Him (22), Keyser Soze (22), Horrob (25), Horroob (25), Hyde Park (25), Medahim (25)
Naseem (25), Maths Prize (28), Rusumaat (28), Executive Force (33), Indian Dandy (33), Leshlaa (33), Omran (33), Sabador (33), Senator (33), Capezzano (40), Moritzburg (40), Via Serendipity (40), Masham Star (50), Sea Fox (50), Sultan Baybars (50), Thomas Cranmer (50), Medieval (66)
The Duke’s view:  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.
BetVictor say: The Britannia Stakes is a 32-runner cavalry charge and yesterday’s Hunt Cup might throw up some valuable clues as to whether there is any advantage in the draw. Hugo Palmer saddles Colibri from stall 32 who looks to have obvious claims from the right-wing however, after speaking to Coventry Stakes winning trainer Richard Spencer on Tuesday he immediately told the press room to back Keyser Soze with most on the yard on at fancy prices earlier in the week.
The selection is up 10lb for bolting-up last time out on the all-weather but goes in the ‘could be anything’ category and connections remain bullish. He looks a fair price at 10/1 and 5 places to each way punters, with the trio of Lightning Fast (28/1), Senator (33/1) and Via Serendipity (40/1) perhaps all over-priced towards the foot of the weights.

5.35 King George V Handicap (0-105) 1m 4f £90,000

Field:Atty Persse (11/2), Sofias Rock (8), Tartini (12), Bin Battuta (14), Master Singer (14), Utah (14), Daawy (16), First Nation (16), Good Omen (16), Homesman (16), Mister Manduro (16), Shymkent (16), Weekender (16), Drochaid (18), Monticello (20), Never Surrender (20), Bear Valley (22), Janszoon (25), Oasis Charm (25), Majoris (33), Reachforthestars (40), Twin Star (40)
The Duke’s view:  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.
BetVictor say:I can’t get away from Atty Persse in the closing 3yo handicap over a mile and a half, with the well-bred son of Frankel ear-marked as a potential derby horse by connections earlier in the spring and potentially well-treated from a mark of 93.
Trainer Roger Charlton has a fine record with runners at the royal meeting and jockey Kieran Shoemark’s 3lb claim, coupled with first-time head-gear, should see everything click into place for Atty Persse to bounce back from losing his unbeaten status last month at Haydock. I will also give a positive word for Tartini, who finished fourth in a competitive handicap on Derby Day at Epsom over a mile and a quarter, and should improve stepping up in trip.

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