The feature race on Day 3 of Royal Ascot is the Ascot Gold Cup over a gruelling two and a half miles. Three time defending Champion Stadivarius heads the betting to make it a fourth success but a whole host of good horses are set to try and take his crown. Day two of the preview produced one winner in the form of Love, and handful of second places. Fingers crossed we can find a few more winners on Day 3.
Exciting Ballydoyle colt can land O’Brien a third Norfolk
The opening race on Day 3 is the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes over five furlongs, where Wesley Ward has yet another favourite. Lucci heads the current betting for his American trainer and looked a very good prospect when winning on debut. Plenty of these towards the top of the betting come into this with similar profiles to Lucci. They have all had just the one start and recorded impressive wins. Cadamosto 11/2 really impressed me on his sole start to date, recording a cosy success at Dundalk. The son of No Nay Never stayed on powerfully and I loved the way he extended to the line. The form of that race looks okay too with the second and sixth having won since. He has been withdrawn on account of the soft going a couple of times since so he should like the quicker conditions and the franatic pace of a five-furlong Royal Ascot sprint. He is a horse I have been looking forward to seeing out again.
Mohaafeth can be mighty in the Hampton Court
Next up on the cards is the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes over a mile and two furlongs. One Ruler brings both the Guineas and Derby form into play and should go well over what is likely to be his optimum trip. He currently sits third in the market behind Mohaafeth 15/8 who was a non-runner in the Derby on account of softening ground. William Haggas has always said this fella needs good ground, which he should get here unless the rain forecast comes down in an abundance. I thought he had a big chance in the Derby and his three wins so far this season have all been impressive. His last win was arguably the visual performance of the season as he travelled all over some smart rivals and cruised to a five-length victory. On Official Ratings he has a pound to find with One Ruler, but he remains unexposed and has any amount of improvement left in him. With the trip, track, and ground set to suit, I think he will be very hard to beat.
Snowfall form to the fore in fascinating Ribblesdale
An interesting field of 13 are set to go to post for this year’s Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes over a mile and four furlongs. Divinely arguably sets the standard after her good third in the Oaks but on a form line through the mighty Snowfall, Noon Star 5/2 looks the clear pick to me. By Galileo and out of Midday, she is an impeccably bred filly and her four lifetime starts to date have shown she is a talented one too. Her last start came at York in the Group 3 Musidora where she finished just under four lengths behind Snowfall. She was comfortably beaten that day but ran a race full of promise. Keen in the early parts of the race, Noon Star was pushed along three furlongs from home and bumped a rival at a crucial stage. She seemed to hang right up the straight but still stayed on nicely into second. That experience will have done her the world of good and the switch to a right-handed track could help bring about improvement. In a competitive contest plenty of these have solid claims but I think Noon Star possesses the best form line and has the most scope for improvement.
Get your rain dance at the ready for Princess Zoe
The feature race of the day is the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup over two and a half miles where a certain Stadivarius will bid to make it a fourth Ascot Gold Cup in a row. He appeared to be in good form when readily winning on seasonal reappearance and there is very little to suggest he won’t be extremely hard to beat. His price does reflect this though and I have decided to side with one at a bigger price. Trueshan looks a major player on the form of his win on Qipco Champions Day last season and his reappearance run was a good one. I expect both him and Subjectivist to relish the step up to this marathon. They both have strong claims against Stradavarius but my play for the race will be Princess Zoe 20/1 at a big price. She is clearly a mare who thrives on soft ground and I’m hoping the rain may fall just in time to make her a lively each way contender. She is a Group 1 winner at the trip on heavy ground and has some form tied in with Subjectivist on her last start last season. She finished just under five lengths behind him that day but was finishing strongly over half a mile short of her optimum. Her two starts this season have been far from impressive but they have both come over inadequate trips on ground potentially too lively for her. If the rain comes, I think she’s a big price.
The Champ can strike in typically competitive Britannia Stakes
With 30 runners set to go to post for this year’s Britannia Stakes over a mile, it is well worth looking around for Bookie offers and those all-important enhanced places. Air to Air has scraped in at the bottom of the weights and has strong claims under the ice cool Jamie Spencer. His price has already contacted a fair bit though and I have decided to side with one at a bigger price. Perotto 22/1 must carry a penalty for a winning a Goodwood handicap, but I am convinced the step up to a mile will bring about further improvement. Campaigned at sprinting trips throughout his career to date, Perotto seemed to relish the extra distance when stepped up to seven furlongs last time out. He didn’t have the smoothest of passages that day and stormed home to land the spoils. The form of that win is yet to be tested but he does have some eye-catching runs in behind the likes of Jumpy and Creative Force. I think these efforts came over an inadequate trip, so it is testament to Perotto’s ability that he was able to run such big races. As a son of New Bay (French Derby winner and placed in an Arc) there is stamina in his pedigree. Tie that in with the visual impression and I believe he’s dangerously unexposed at a mile and could be a fair bit better than his mark of 94.
He’ll make hard work of it but Nagana can strike
The penultimate race of the day is the King George V Stakes over a mile and four furlongs. Sir Lamorak arguably sets the standard on form but must concede weight all round to some promising types. Roger Varian’s Nagano 11/1 fits that description and appears to have plenty of scope for improvement. His lifetime form figures read 311 and I fully expect this step up a mile and a half to bring about further improvement. The form of his last run is hard to assess but his previous win has been boosted by the placed horses. He can often make quite hard work of the finish so don’t be surprised to see him shaken up early then do all his best work late on. At 11/1 he looks a nice each way play.
Two against the field in the lucky last
The final race on Day 3 is the Buckingham Palace Stakes Handicap over seven furlongs. A typically competitive field of 29 are set to go to post and I like the chances of two runners. Lord Campari 12/1 has long been a horse I have held in high regard, and he caught my eye on his seasonal debut when running extremely well for a very long way in the Lockinge. Both Palace Pier and Lady Bowthorpe have enhanced that form line and the drop back to seven furlongs looks a good move. Placed into handicap company for the first time, his opening mark of 102 could well underestimate his ability and I think he’ll go well for jockey Andrea Atzeni. The other horse who caught my eye was Danyeh 11/1 for Owen Burrows and Dane O’Niell. The handicapper would appear to have quite a good current assessment of him, but I believe a big field handicap over seven furlongs could be exactly what he wants. His last two starts have come over a mile where he finished a good fourth in the Lincoln, then second to the promising Nugget. He tends to travel quite keenly through his races, and I am hoping the large field and anticipated quick pace can help him settle better. If he does, I think he possesses quite the engine and could be a danger to all at 11/1.
By Sam Rideout
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