We’ve had two fantastic days of racing at Royal Ascot so far, and there’s still plenty more to come. Here are my thoughts ahead of Day 3 of the meeting…
I think Cardsharp might win the Norfolk Stakes. He’s quite exposed relative to most of these, but on the other hand he’s got plenty of experience which should stand him in good stead. He’s clearly effective on fast ground and I thought he looked to have De Bruyne Horse in all sorts of trouble in the Woodcote until the last half furlong and the drop back to 5 should suit. I like the bookings of James Doyle, he’s riding with a lot of confidence and I think he could be a bit of value against the front of the market.
Hampton Court Stakes
I’ll be very disappointed if Mirage Dancer doesn’t go very close to winning the Hampton Court. Clearly the world, his wife, their cousins and their dog all spotted that he was quite an eye catching force in the Dee Stakes at Chester – it wasn’t the fact that he finished well, it was more the way in which he travelled throughout the race that convinced me that he was a pretty smart horse. You’d have to think that he would have finished pretty close to Cliffs of Moher if he’d got a clear passage – that should see him running a very sound race here.
It’s also worth mentioning that Benbatl ran an eye catching race in the Derby. He probably had a pretty hard race and was a bit flattered then picking up the pieces, could be one to watch here.
A horse I like, who I hope will be at a reasonable price in the Ribblesdale, is Astronomy’s Choice. Gosden has four in the race which suggests he needs plenty of runners to be assured of success, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case. I think this filly is better than she showed when she was third behind Horseplay at Newmarket in the Pretty Polly. Even a replication of that form will see her there or there abouts. She didn’t, to my eyes, handle the track particularly well, going sideways sometimes, rather than forwards and she may have needed the run. She’s a big fillie, this track will suit her better, she’ll be able to use her stride more efficiently and will give Alluringly something to think about.
Order of St George is a beautiful horse, a real luxury liner of a stayer and incredibly hard to beat if he turns up in the same form as last year. We haven’t always seen that Order of St. George, but Aidan O’Brien has previously shown with Yeats that he’s got the knack of getting his horses to peak for the Gold Cup.
If I were Aidan O’Brien or indeed any who look to follow his horses on the big days, I wouldn’t be too worried about not having a raft of winners yet – Deauville ran very well, Murillo ran well in the Coventry and probably should have won and Lancashire Bomber has probably produced a career best – just remember what happened with Willie Mullins back at Cheltenham when the doom fraternity we’re suggested a change of gallops were need, the yard was wrong and it was all over!
Order of St George is no price though and it’s not a bad Gold Cup, so I think there’re probably one or two others worth considering; one is clearly Big Orange – people think he can’t stay 2 ½ miles but he seems to stay 2 ¼ well enough and I wouldn’t be surprised if he led them deep inside the final furlong. He’s some tough nut, who keeps getting better and better.
Another one I’d like to run a big race is Sweet Selection – she’s got a bit to find but gets the fillies allowance, we know she stays every yard and her comeback win was over this track. Hughie Morrison is brilliant with these stayers and hes had horses run really well in this race before, so I give her a chance I’ll probably be backing Big Orange and Sweet Selection.
The Britannia Stakes
I don’t have a strong view for The Britannia Stakes – it’s very hard to choose and you could make a strong case for any of them. The short list would include horses like Tricorn, Leaders Legacy and Sabador, but the one I’ve come down on is Keyser Soze, who could continue the dream week for Richard Spencer, after his first Royal Ascot winner on Day One.
Keyser Soze couldn’t have been more impressive on the all-weather last time and he’s a horse who’s improving very fast, so I think he could run a big race.
King George V Stakes
In the King George V, I think Atty Persse might be the way forward: it’s a tight handicap and Kieran Shoemark takes a valuable 3 pounds off. This is a bit of a lazy horse, but has cheek pieces for the first time and if they can motivate him then he’s got a great chance and that would continue a great week for Godolphin.
3 For Thursday:
Hampton Court Stakes 3.05 Mirage Dancer
Ribblesdale Stakes 3.40 Astronomy’s Choice
King George V Stakes 5.35 Atty Persse
All the best!
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.