Royal Ascot Day Three Preview
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Royal Ascot Day Three Preview

We head through the mid-point of Royal Ascot on Thursday as day three brings along the Gold Cup itself, the centrepiece of the meeting. Can Stradivarius seal an historic, record-equalling fourth win at the second attempt for Frankie Dettori and Team Gosden? They race once more at Royal Ascot from 2.30pm-6.10pm on Thursday afternoon and the Racing Post previews all the day three action.


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2.30pm - Norfolk Stakes (Group 2, 5f)

A rare sprint for the juveniles this week where Wesley Ward isn't involved, the Norfolk has a field exclusively of UK and Irish runners and it looks as though the raiders hold the strongest hand.

The Antarctic is 2-2 on home soil and is a brother to the brilliant speedster Battaash. The 750,000 gns Dark Angel colt has won at Tipperary and Naas and should have a leading say, now upped in class as his trainer bids for a third win in this race since 2015.

However, CRISPY CAT could be some value in the market to take him on with for Michael O'Callaghan. The Ardad colt landed a Cork maiden on debut and has twice since finished second in Listed races at the Curragh and Sandown.

Last time in the National Stakes, he pulled more than six-lengths clear with the filly Maria Branwell and lost out on the nod - David O'Meara's winner tackled Queen Mary on Wednesday and could have given that form a nice boost. Silvestre De Sousa is an excellent jockey booking here and Crispy Cat can outrun double-figure odds.

The home team is led by David Loughnane's Walbank, with Rossa Ryan on board. He and De Sousa are trading places today with the Brazilian having partnered Walbank to a seven-length novice success at York last month following a C&D second on debut. A promising Kodiac colt, he's stepping up in class now and should run well.

Doncaster debut winner Brave Nation had lots of daylight between himself and the rest on Town Moor and trainer Michael Bell won this contest with The Lir Jet in 2020.

Selection: Crispy Cat

Next Best: The Antarctic

 

3.05pm - King George V Stakes (Heritage Handicap, 1m4f)

Jessica Harrington 'unofficially' had a runner-up on day one with Cadillac (sold on Monday) and the Irish trainer could land a win here with YASHIN. The Churchill gelding is improving race-on-race and finds himself 2-2 in handicaps after wins at Leopardstown (1m4f) and Navan (1m2f) in May.

There won't be any hanging around in this contest in all probability and that, allied to the return to this mile-and-a-half trip, should provide Shane Foley's mount with a platform to improve again. He needs to do that to score off his new mark of 96, but he's trading at double-figure odds and is worth the chance to shine.

A trio of promising contenders spearhead the home team - all for top yards. Israr (John & Thady Gosden) got up late to deny re-opposing Surrey Mist a hat-trick at Newbury last month, that form already advertised by third home Zoom going close in a good Doncaster heat. Jim Crowley's mount is a key player.

So, too, is Mandobi for William Haggas. He was second in a soft-ground Haydock novice in October on debut but has won on both starts this season at Ripon and Thirsk over 1m2f/1m4f on good going. He now moves into handicaps with more progress likely.

Secret State, meanwhile, has a similar profile after maiden/novice scores at Chester and Nottingham in May for Charlie Appleby. The first of those was over 1m2½f on the Roodee and he was much too strong since dropped in trip.

That trio all have major potential, while Johnny Murtagh will believe progress is likely from Flying Dolphin on his handicap bow, though this is traditionally amongst the hottest 3YO handicaps in the calendar.

Selection: Yashin

Next Best: Israr

 

3.40pm - Ribblesdale Stakes (Fillies' Group 2, 1m4f)

Sea Silk Road heads the betting for the Haggas/Marquand team after taking a step up in class/trip in her stride at Goodwood last month to make it 2-2 on turf.

She had to move between horses to challenge that day and showed a willing attitude, but the runner-up was turned over in a Nottingham maiden since and this is another rise in quality for this Sea The Stars filly on her first go at this trip.

History was only midfield in the Irish 1000 Guineas last time but, given her connections, a major step forward is very possible.

MAGICAL LAGOON has a nice profile and Jessica Harrington's filly was a close second to Concert Hall on comeback at Navan in April, form advertised by the winner and the third, Cairde Go Deo, who has twice won Listed races since. Tranquil Lady (fourth) easily won a Group 3 at Naas next time and acquitted herself well in the Oaks. By Galileo, Magical Lagoon could have plenty more in reserve at this new distance.

Both Life Of Dreams for Charlie Appleby and Roger Varian's Mukaddamah are capable of getting involved too. The former was second to Emily Upjohn in York's Musidora last month, the winner desperately unfortunate since at Epsom in the Oaks. She is, though, the least experienced runner here.

Mukaddamah, meanwhile, was third in a Newbury Listed contest in May behind Nashwa - placed next time in the fillies' Classic at Epsom - with a subsequent Listed winner in second spot. That's good form and the New Approach filly has previous Ascot experience and may improve now meeting this longer trip.

Just six runners for the Ribblesdale, but a very competitive renewal with lots of untapped potential.

Selection: Magical Lagoon

Next Best: Mukaddamah

 

4.20pm - Gold Cup (Group 1, 2m4f)

One way or another, a race that revolves around Stradivarius and his quest for a fourth Gold Cup win. He missed out last year, caught in traffic at just the wrong moment as eventual winner Subjectivist was turning on the taps up front. Even so, the falling champion failed to rally in the home straight and perhaps just wasn't himself that day. Can he reclaim the crown at eight?

Last month's Yorkshire Cup win showed he retains plenty ability and the expected absence of Trueshan (who beat him twice last season with some comfort) is a bonus, with Alan King admitting his star won't run on fast ground. He's the best stayer of his generation and, with Dettori on top, it would be dangerous to rule them out. There will be some Ascot roar if they are rattling home fastest.

Youngster Kyprios represents Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore and it's probably a massive factor in him being short-price favourite for this prize. He's won 4-6 so far and has really excelled in 1m6f successes at Navan and Leopardstown this season. He's got plenty of potential, but this trip is an unknown factor and one that isn't being considered in his odds seemingly.

Tashkhan should relish the trip but would prefer some cut in the ground, while the likeable Earlofthecotswolds will surely find one or two more classy despite his proven stamina for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Fellow jumps 'intruder' Willie Mullins fires Cesarewitch second Burning Victory in his quest to land this major prize for the first time. She was clear of the chasing pack when second to Buzz at Newmarket and could run a big race, but it's PRINCESS ZOE, for Mullins' brother Tony, who has the proven form.

Second to Subjectivist last June on quick ground on her first Ascot start, she was a gutsy winner of the Sagaro Stakes (2m, good) here in April in her lone return since. She's a super mare with a lot of heart and could be one to foil Stradivarius' bid for history.

Selection: Princess Zoe

Next Best: Stradivarius

Royal Ascot Day Four Preview

Royal Ascot Day Four Preview

5.00pm - Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap, 1m)

We saw Real World turn the Hunt Cup into a procession last summer before proving himself to have been a 'group horse in a handicap' and there's every reason to believe King Of Time could be similar here.

Charlie Appleby's son of Kingman has won 3-3 so far and his latest success at Newmarket on handicap bow reads well on the clock. The assessor has put him up 7lb, but he's set to carry just 9st under William Buick and rates a major contender.

He's one of three unbeaten contenders in this. William Haggas' Golden Horn colt Yonafis has three wins already, though they've all come on synthetic surfaces. He's gone up 4lb for his latest Wolverhampton win.

WHOPUTFIFTYINYOU meanwhile made it 4-4 when bagging the Silver Bowl at Haydock last month. He had Mighty Ulysses behind in second, that Gosden inmate advertising the form with a cracking run in the St James's Palace Stakes here on Tuesday (form also advertised by the third and fourth since).

There's plenty of depth therefore to the form of the Clive Cox contender and he might be the one from that unbeaten trio.

Of those at bigger prices, Michael Bell's Bolthole looks one that might be suited by a strongly-run mile here (stays further) and after four starts the last-time-out Newmarket winner has scope for better in the hands of Jamie Spencer.

Selection: Whoputfiftyinyou

Next Best: Bolthole

 

5.35pm - Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3, 1m2f)

Far from the strongest renewal of this race and, if there's to be a Royal winner in the Platinum Jubilee summer, then surely this is the glaring opportunity.

REACH FOR THE MOON was second behind My Prospero in last month's Sandown comeback, the pair well clear, and, again, the Haggas inmate strongly advertised that form when a close third in a Group 1 here on Tuesday.

John & Thady Gosden's charge was a Group 3 winner last season and is bred to excel at this longer trip. Better days lie ahead of him and this looks a gilt-edged chance.

Craven runner-up Claymore for Jane Chapple-Hyam and Adam Kirby might be the one to follow him home.

Selection: Reach For The Moon

Next Best: Claymore

 

6.10pm - Buckingham Palace Stakes (Handicap, 7f)

A total of 598 days elapsed from Montassib's wining debut at Newcastle (AW) until he reappeared in April and landed a Wetherby novice upped to this 7f trip. Any fears over a 'bounce' were dispelled as he made a winning start in handicaps at Goodwood last month.

Those turf wins have come on good-to-firm/soft, so there are no worries on ground conditions now. He has gone up 10lb in the ratings, however, and is now in a very deep field.

Vafortino was a ready winner over C&D last month on second start for new handler Kevin Philippart De Foy and there's reason to believe he'll go well again despite being 5lb higher.

AL RUFAA lost his way a bit in 2021, but made a pleasing comeback on the all-weather at Southwell in a Conditions race. His second to Marshal Dan last summer brings him into the reckoning with Montassib and a mark of 99 looks fair on his best efforts.

He can be keen, but Rab Havlin can look for plenty cover in this finale and a redemptive effort is possible from this John & Thady Gosden-trained son of Kingman.

Selection: Al Rufaa

Next Best: Montassib

 

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