The middle day of Royal Ascot with the week’s feature, the Gold Cup the highlight of this afternoon’s seven race card.
2.30 ROYAL ASCOT – NOCHE MAGICA
A right royal burn up is on the cards in the Norfolk Stakes.
Wesley Ward’s American Rascal, out of the yards great Royal Ascot heroine Lady Aurelia, will likely fly along here having danced away to win by ten lengths on debut. That was a shade under five furlongs and he tries the turf here and could set it up for a closer.
Elite Status was mightily impressive when showing an explosive turn of foot to win the National Stakes at Sandown and he is a worthy market leader, but very short in comparison to NOCHE MAGICA. He was narrowly denied by Coventry fourth Givemethebeatboys over six furlongs at the Curragh. He travelled very strongly into the race and hit the front before just being reeled in. the drop back in trip looks a good move and he can take the Norfolk Stakes back to Ireland for addy Twomey and Billy Lee.
3.05 ROYAL ASCOT – WONDER LEGEND
A very competitive renewal as always of the King George V Stakes although the market has been informative recently with seven of the last nine winners returning 9/1 or less.
Bertinelli landed the London Gold Cup last time, always a hot contest with the second and third in action later on the card in Group 3 company.
Tagabawa and Burglar arrive from powerful yards o the back of easy wins, the former in a Kempton handicap and the latter in a Redcar novice.
This could come down to a duel between Prefuse and WONDER LEGEND who have both got the same mark for easy Doncaster wins.
Perfuse showed that decent ground holds no fears for him in novice company and could have a big future for Sir Michael Stoute with Richard Kingscote on board who won this race on Brown Panther in 2011. However, WONDER LEGEND showed the benefit of a step up in trip when beating subsequent Sandown winner Westerton easily by five lengths, clocking a decent figure on soft ground in the process. He has incurred a 13lb rise but is up in trip again which looks set to bring more improvement for horse who could be better than a handicapper.
4.20 ROYAL ASCOT – ELDAR ELDAROV
A brilliant Gold Cup is on the cards for Thursday's feature contest over the marathon two miles and four-furlong trip.
Coltrane has a grand course record, having won at the Royal meeting last year before building up to Group 2 success in the Doncaster Cup. He returned here to win the Sagaro Stakes ahead of Wild Eagleand Trueshan and looks sure to give a bold bid.
He Is a solid stayer who looks to still be improving aged 6, but if there is a bit of stardust in the field, it could be last years St Leger her ELDAR ELDAROV. Roger Varian’s yard has just turned a corner and the team are running well. He made a very encouraging return at York in the Lonsdale Cup, staying on strongly for second and is 3lb better off with third home there Broome. He was a dominant winner of last year’s classic and may have still been feeling that effort when upped to all aged company in the Long Distance Cup a month later. Back on better ground and in receipt of a 1lb from Coltrane, he gets the nod here.
Old stalwarts Subjectivist and Trueshan, if taking his chance, will be popular while Courage Mon Amiis very intriguing for the Gosden’s and Frankie Dettori. Just three runs, three wins, the latest a Goodwood handicap over a mile and six, he has been thrown in the deep end, but connections are no fools and he must be showing all the right signs he is up to this level.
5.00 ROYAL ASCOT – SURELY NOT & DOCKLANDS
The thirty runner Britannia handicap for 3yo’s over a mile. Easy!!
Any number of runners with chances in here with many yet to show their true hand, but these tricky punters puzzle just lure us in as solving them offers a lot of joy and satisfaction.
York winner Quantam Impact under Frankie will be punted as will probably the hat-trick seeking Good Karma.
Racingbreaks Ryder can’t stop winning and searches for an incredible six-timer while Saxon King comes here quickly after winning well at Chester on Saturday.
Another Chester winner this season, SURELY NOT is one name on the staking plan. He won at Newmarket’s Craven meeting in good style and followed up at Chester, bursting trough late to win going away. Up another 6lb, that may not stop him and the way that Chester race panned out will stand him good stead here. He has also proved that a big field holds no fears for him, and Hollie Doyle is already off the mark this week. Stall 20 is another positive as just one winner in the last decade has been drawn in a single figure stall.
Another one to play is course winner DOCKLANDS. He routed a smaller field over track and trip six weeks ago to earn a stone rise. He did have a classic entry earlier in the season so is held in high regard and looks to have the right profile for this race. Stall 18 is another potentially decent position.
Fort Vega is another interesting runner. Drawn hard up against the Stands side, he has won his last two for Sheila Lavery, holding a wide margin Aidan O’Brien maiden winner over the mile last time. He too could have a part to play.
5.35 ROYAL ASCOT – EXOPLANET
The Hampton Court Stakes is another hot little content for three-year-olds on a fantastic card.
A lot of eyes will be on Bertinelli earlier in the card regards the chances of Bold Act and EXOPLANET but it is the third home from that London Gold Cup that I will side with here. He was given a lot to do by Jack Mitchell form the rear of the field and even stumbled when making a big move down the middle of the track and, almost on the stands side at one point. He looked to have hit the front before just giving best late on, but I couldn’t help but mark that up as a massive effort and previously he had chased home the Derby favourite Military Order. Roger Varian’s team are going well and he gets the nod here.
John Gosden throws a googly be declaring two George Strawbridge owned runners. Epictetus has the best form in the book but is getting a little exposed, which is the opposite of owner and stablemate Torito. He looked to be group race bound when pouncing at Epsom under Benoit De La Sayette and it is great connections stick with the apprentice despite him unable to claim here. He must have a big chance too.
These look the ones to focus on in a race where the biggest SP in the last ten years was just 7/1.
6.10 ROYAL ASCOT – SPIRIT LIGHT & CROUPIER
Another absolute cavalry charge over seven furlongs this time and 29 runners stretched across the track with a host of chances in a wide open handicap, although only a few could be described as unexposed.
Yesterday’s action suggested that a stands side pitch maybe favourable so will put up SPIRIT LIGHT under James Doyle form stall 30. He has been beaten in both his course starts but ran on after being short of room at York last time over six furlongs, so the step back up in trip looks set to suit. He wasn’t far behind runaway Victoria Cup winner Rebel Territory at Newmarket in April and is 1lb lower here. a reproduction of that puts him right in the mix.
Because of the draw, I will overlook last years runner up Ropey Guest who is 3lb higher but is drawn in 9. He landed just his second turf success from 34 tries at Goodwood recently so is in good heart.
The other one I’ll add to the staking plan is CROUPIER. He is drawn in 23 and the return to better ground saw him get back to winning ways having been down the field in a soft ground Lincoln. He is up just 3lb for that narrow York success but drops a furlong in trip and the stiff seven furlongs maybe his optimum. It’s not been William Buick’s week yet, but that may all change here.