ROYAL ASCOT – DAY 3 (THURSDAY)
14:30 – Norfolk Stakes
The opening race on Ladies Day at Royal Ascot is a Group 2 contest for two year olds over the flying five furlongs.
Global Applause was behind Mehmas two starts ago but then reversed that form at Sandown in a Listed race. Mehmas was second behind a good type in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday, which gives this juvenile leading claims in the form book. This colt is by Mayson, whose offspring have a low sample size on slow ground but he won the July Cup on heavy ground, so you’d expect Ed Dunlop’s charge to go on this surface.
Silver Line put in a taking performance on debut by the way he put the race to bed and justified his place at the head of the betting that day. Godolphin had a treble yesterday but with different trainers. This grey is a son of Dark Angel and his progeny are versatile on the ground. You have to expect some improvement for that first effort and looks to be involved in a finish.
Two of these have won over further. They are Legendary Lunch, who won on Oaks Day at Epsom when getting up on the line to deny Danielsflyer. Richard Hannon is having a quiet meeting but on this sort of track and if getting a strong enough gallop could be able to mount a late challenge. The other victor over six furlongs is Peace Envoy for Aidan O’Brien. This son of Power won the Roachestown last time out at Naas and looks a bit of value in this race. He should enjoy a stiff test over five furlongs and drawn in six gives Ryan Moore the chance to go down either side.
PEACE ENVOY (E/W)
15:05 – Tercentenary Stakes
There may only be nine runners for this year’s renewal of the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes, but it still looks a highly competitive field with half a dozen runners in contention here.
Irish raider Blue De Vega is entitled to take a hand here given his third in the Irish 2000 Guineas, despite being well held that day. Likewise, Charlie Appleby’s Hawkbill for the Godolphin team is more than entitled to get involved after landing a four timer a shade cosily last time out and he will no doubt give his running again here, but both look vulnerable to a more unexposed type and there looks to be three main protagonists that fall into this category.
Two of these unexposed horses both come from the stable of Sir Michael Stoute. The first of these is the twice raced colt Mulk. The well-bred three year old was second on debut at Newmarket before scooting clear of the field at Chester over today’s trip without much hassle to win eased down. He is open to any sort of improvement in him after accounting for Exoteric by some two and 1/4 lengths under Paul Hanagan who takes the ride again today for Hamdan Al Maktoum. That win at Chester came on Good ground, but there is plenty to suggest he will like softer ground in his breeding and he looks a decent each way proposition.
The legendary trainer also sends the unexposed Abdon into battle under Frankie Dettori. The horse looked a smart prospect when romping to an easy debut win at Newbury on heavy ground last summer and he ran well on return back in April when second to the re-opposing Hawksbill on quicker than ideal ground. He will likely come on for that run and will relish more cut in the ground so should be involved in the finish, but Mulk looks the better value.
Long Island Sound is the other unexposed type that can be a danger to all for the Ballydoyle team. The powerful yard are always well respected with their three year olds at the Royal meeting and their representative here has quickly rattled off a hat trick from his first three visits to the track. Two of those wins came on the all weather and all three came over a mile. He now faces questions to answer with the extra two furlongs on much softer ground, but he has to be respected having done all that has been asked of him so far.
15:40 – Ribblesdale Stakes
Another Group 2 this time for fillies over one mile and four furlongs on the round course where the race looks to be about Architecture.
The question is about her wellbeing just 13 days after that top effort behind Minding in the Oaks. Frankie Dettori had her in a good position that day and she got first run on the favourite but it was Minding who showed her true quality to speed past this Zoffany filly. That will have had its effects on her and this race with a couple of potential improvers may come too soon. If she runs like she did in the Oaks then she should win in all honesty.
Even Song swerved Epsom and got off the mark last season when comfortable winning a Leopardstown maiden. She is a half-sister to Simple Verse, so is all about stamina and the extra two furlongs today should suit. At Newmarket on her reappearance she was third, a place behind Chicadoro, and did well to claim that position after getting in to a bit of trouble in running. She should handle this ground and test, so looks one to bring into the equation.
Sir Michael Stoute has been in good form of late but hasn’t yet notched a winner at this meeting over the past two days. He had a couple that ran well to hit the frame yesterday but today could be his day with Queen’s Trust. She caught my eye on her return to the track at Newbury when staying on over ten furlongs and Stoute’s usually require a run. The form of that run already is taking shape with the fifth winning next time and the seventh running second in another Listed race on her next start. On pedigree she’ll appreciate this extra trip meaning she is still open to improvement. Olivier Peslier is an interesting jockey booking – he has three winners at Ascot plus he is 1 from 2 for Sir Michael.
QUEEN’S TRUST (E/W)
16:20 – Ascot Gold Cup
The Aidan O’Brien yard have a long running affiliation with the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup having won it with superstars such as Leading Light, Fame and Glory and of course four-time winner Yeats.
The Coolmore team also had the runner up in the race last year with Kingfisher, but this year’s candidate Order of St George looks to have a massive chance of wrestling back the title for Ireland once again.
The horse could not have been more impressive than when making his seasonal reappearance earlier this month when routing the field in a listed contest at Leopardstown and while the opposition he beat that day may not be up to much, the manner and authority of the victory really caught the eye. The four-year-old colt already has a Group 1 success to his name after romping to an 11-length success in the Irish St Leger and so the confirmation of his well being with his recent win makes him the standout pick in a weak looking renewal and one of the bets of the entire meeting.
Long time rivals Clever Cookie and Flying Officer seem to keep exchanging victories over one and other so there is no doubt they are two very capable horses on their day, but chances are they will both have to battle it out for minor placings in this kind of company.
Others who can take a hand are Luca Cumani’s recent winner Mizzou. The five-year-old is actually still quite lightly raced and beat both Clever Cookie and Flying Officer on reappearance to land the Sagaro Stakes over two miles on good to soft ground and he would have to be the each way alternative should the selection not fire. He does, however, have some 13lb to find with the selection on official ratings so may have to settle for the runner up spot.
ORDER OF ST GEORGE (WIN)
17:00 – Britannia Handicap
A 30-runner Handicap over the straight mile is a nightmare for most of us and previous winners have returned 10/1, 14/1 and 20/1.
One that I’m keen on in this contest is Folkswood for Charlie Appleby. He looked a stout stayer when winning on the Rowley Mile at the end of April. Despite the 9lb rise there looked plenty more to come from this son of Exceed And Excel but seemed to handle cut in the ground that day. The second from that Newmarket win, Dolphin Vista came out to win by over 3l at Ripon on his next start to give the form a boost.
Fighting Temeraire is one that races at the back then comes home with a strong turn of foot only to be beaten by one. He’s done that twice already this season over seven furlongs, so the fact he is stepping up to a mile has to be a positive. He won his maiden at Windsor with cut in the ground, so that shouldn’t be an issue and he represents a stable that is six from 22 in the past two weeks. He ticks plenty of boxes.
The other I’m putting up is Richard Fahey’s Garcia. The Yorkshire based trainer had a winner yesterday with Ribchester and can have another with this genuine type. He’s now on a four-timer after just getting up at Haydock to beat Chief Whip. This son of Paco Boy looks to gallop and gallop with the way he got the job done on the last day but whether the handicapper has yet got a grip on him shall be revealed here. He won’t mind the ground and if this does turn into a bit of a fight he is one I’d want on side.
Chief Whip followed the aforementioned Garcia home at Haydock when just getting collared close home. This may have been the overall target for this son of Giant’s Causeway, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go close. There is some strong form from his four races that he’s already contested and he’d need to run up to the best of it to win.
Two at bigger prices to give favourable mentions to are Michael Bell’s Taurean Star, who is two from two at Ascot. He sprung a 25/1 surprise when winning here 41-days ago on his return. He’s gone up just 6lb for that but with Daniel Muscutt able to claim 3lb looks well treated on the back of that. The change of jockey from Jamie Spencer may be a slight negative. He recorded a good time doing that and has form on slower surfaces. The other to mention is Speed Company, who is dropping back in trip. A strongly ran mile is likely to suit and he won on his reappearance at Newmarket under Ryan Moore. He doesn’t look badly treated and if Edward Greatrex wants to make use of his stamina then he is a good judge of the fractions at a young age.
17:35 – King George V Stakes
The finale on day three of the Royal meeting could not be any tougher for the King George V stakes. This is a handicap contest over 1m4f, but it may pay to side with an old master who is well used to winning this race. That man, is Sir Michael Stoute, who has won four previous renewals of the race and looks to have a great chance here today with the progressive Shraaoh. The colt shaped well in two turf maidens including when sixth behind stablemate Mulk (his run earlier on the card may just given an indication of his chances here), before leaving that form well behind when absolutely romping home by six lengths at Newcastle on the new all weather surface there. The step up in distance will hold no fears given the ease of that win and he looked better the further he went and he looks a decent bet here at an attractive each way price.
One danger will likely come from Owen Burrows unexposed Midhmaar. The gelding was a winner of a Salisbury nursery last season and has really progressed in defeat this season. The three year old has actually finished runner up on his last three starts and went down in the latter of those to the re-opposing Primitivo, but this time around he is some 7lb better off with that rival and he can give his running at a massive each way price here.
Another horse who can take a hand in this fiercely competitive handicap is Roger Varian’s Point of View. The horse left any doubts about his ability well behind when improving on two disappointed starts to open his account upped to this trip last time out. He only just prevailed that day, he will likely come on for that win, but he will need to with much more on his plate here today.
LISTEN TO THE VALUERATERS BEST BETS OF DAY 3 OF ROYAL ASCOT RIGHT HERE