We hit the middle day of the Royal Ascot meeting on Thursday when the Gold Cup is the headline attraction on what appears to be another excellent day of racing at the Berkshire venue, with some of the best horses in racing lining up.
The Gold Cup is the only Group 1 on the card on Thursday but there are three other group races on the schedule as well. We’ve had a sift through the runners and riders and have come up with one horse to get stuck into.
2.30 Royal Ascot: Norfolk Stakes
The opener on Day 3 is a 5 furlong sprint for 2 year olds &, continuing the trend from the week, Wesley Ward has a well fancied runner. Lucci won his only start by around 3 lengths but given the yard is yet to have a winner this week, he can be opposed. Aiden O’Brien has a potentially smart colt in the shape of Cadamosto but his only run (& win) was on the all weather.
At bigger prices, Project Dante, Korker & Navello could all run well but with the race being all about potential, I’m happy to sit it out.
3.05 Royal Ascot: Hampton Court Stakes
Just the 10 runners go to post for this Group 3 race for 3 year olds over a mile and a quarter. I’m not sure this race is as deep as some people would have you believe with only 1, in my opinion, capable of troubling the top 3 in the market. Mohaafeth is the favourite off the back of an incredibly impressive victory in a Listed race at Newmarket that propelled him towards the head of the Derby market. However, he was declared a non runner for that on account of the ground which has to be a slight worry if the forecast deluge arrives.
Lightly raced Movin Time has been well backed off the back of Kemari’s win in the Queens Vase, a horse he gave a 4 length beating too last time out. That was an ultra impressive performance but it was just a maiden & he’ll still need to show the same improvement as the Appleby horse to be involved here. At less than 3/1, he’s a bit too short in the market for me. One Ruler is a class act with his last 2 runs being in the 2000 Guineas & the Derby. He was 6th in both & this intermediate trip should suit but the concern is the 4lb penalty he has to shoulder. Of the others, Roman Empire’s run in the Dante wasn’t anything special whilst Snapraetera is thoroughly exposed having raced 12 times already.
The one I like is The Rosstafarian. He’s seen the track 4 times & despite only winning on debut, he’s performed creditably in defeat. His first run as a 2 year old was eyecatching as he came home 4 lengths in front at Salisbury before running a close 3rd of 7 in a Pontefract Listed race. Whilst he’s out of sprinter Starspangledbanner, he does have stamina in his pedigree too in the shape of Teofilo & it was somewhat of a surprise he wasn’t stepped up in trip for his 3 year old campaign. He started out in the Craven & whilst 5th of 10 doesn’t sound that great, he was the eyecatcher. Held up out the back, he was badly hampered 4 furlongs out & got himself stuck at the back of the field, looking outpaced. He did, however, stay on really well & I feel he’d have been 3rd at worst over an extra furlong. He clearly showed enough to connections as he was pitched into Group 1 company where he went over for the Irish 2000 Guineas. Again in the rear from the widest draw, he was outpaced but again stayed on really well to finish 7th of 11, 8 lengths behind Poetic Flare & 4 lengths behind Lucky Vega who were the 1-2 in Tuesday’s Group 1 St James Palace Stakes. He looks to be crying out for this step up in trip & he’s sure to be staying on all the way to the line. Whether he’ll get outpaced at a crucial stage is a small worry but at the prices, I’m prepared to take that chance. As Mohaafeth could really prove to be above this level, I’ll also take him without the favourite.
Back The Rosstafarian (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 13.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-4)
Back The Rosstafarian (e/w) in the ‘without Mohaafeth’ market for a 0.75/10 stake at 9.00 Bet365 (⅕ odds 1-3)
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3.40 Royal Ascot: Ribblesdale Stakes
A mile and a half for this Group 2 featuring 13 3 year old fillies. There are an awful lot of formlines to assess here & the result is that it’s pretty inconclusive. Noon Star could be a star & is probably a worthy favourite whilst Divinely did run well enough behind a runaway winner in the Oaks. The 1-2-3-4 from a Newbury Listed race reoppose & it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top here whilst Ad Infinitum & Taslima, both at big prices, could easily outrun their odds.
Unfortunately, I just cannot find an angle so am keeping my powder dry here too.
4.20 Royal Ascot: Gold Cup
Stradivarius bids to win his 4th Gold Cup and who am I to bet against him? He is now a 7 year old & has 12 rivals to overcome but he loves it here & cannot be dismissed with any confidence. If I’m honest, I think the front 3 look pretty solid here, with Trueshan marginally favoured over Subjectivist.
The market has this right & any value in Trueshan has now gone so on a light betting day in the Group races, I’ll sit out my 3rd race in 4.