Royal Ascot 2023 – Day 3 Handicap Races Tips and Betting Preview

The middle day of racing at Royal Ascot on Thursday sees three handicaps taking place across the seven race card and while much of the attention will be on the Ascot Gold Cup, the feature race of the day, these handicaps shouldn’t go unnoticed.

As ever at Royal Ascot the fields for these are pretty deep in terms of number so having had a good look through the cards for all three races we are going double handed in each of them in the hope of smashing the frame.

3.05 Royal Ascot


The first of 3 handicaps on the day is the King George V which is confined to 3 year old over a trip of a mile and a half.  It’s usually full of progressive, in form types and this year is no different; one interesting thing to note is that low drawn horses are often inconvenienced as it’s usually a rough race so runners that are drawn wider and stay out of trouble are often favoured.  Top weight in Ryan Moore’s Bertinelli who won the informative London Gold Cup at Newbury but the fact he has to give at least 7lbs to all of his rivals make this a very difficult task indeed.  Buick rides the favourite in Tagabawa who brings loads of potential to the table but this is his first start on turf and, whilst impressive last time, only won a Class 4 handicap beating just 3 rivals.  James Ferguson has 2 good chances with Land Legend and Wonder Legend, whilst Davideo is unexposed and should not be overlooked.  As with all handicaps today, I’m going double handed.


Struth – The Johnston’s have a good record in this race and this one will bid to add to their tally of 4 winners in the last 20 years.  On reappearance, he ran really well to come from off the pace to win at Chester, clear of his stablemate Demilion, the first 3 coming clear.  Upped 5lbs, he was even better last time out when, in Class 2 company for the first time, he finished 2nd at Doncaster behind Saint George who was 2nd in the Group 2 Queens Vase on Wednesday behind the unbeaten Gregory,  The fact the selection gave Saint George 7lbs in that Doncaster but only went down by 2 lengths is telling given the winner was narrowly denied here and they were well clear of the 3rd.   To add even more substance, the front 2 in the Doncaster race pulled over 3 lengths clear of the rest of the field.  He’s up another 4lbs in the handicap but that could underestimate his chances and I expect a big run at a massive price.

Desert Hero – Running in the most famous colours in racing, it would be fitting for William Haggas’ charge to land this for the King & dearly departed Queen.  Two starts ago,, he won at 1/7, giving the runner up a near 4 length beating whilst giving that horse 7lbs.  That was enough to make him favourite for the London Gold Cup and whilst he was beaten into 8th, he wasn’t beaten far just 3 lengths behind the winner.   That day, he went from the front which didn’t suit and he overrated a little in the early stages but, at the furlong marker, he was right in there pitching and I couldn’t see him finishing out of the frame.  It was evident those early exertions took their toll in a race where it paid to come from off the pace.  He’s bred to get further and I’m sure the extra 2 furlongs will see him in a better light.  That, coupled with a wide draw where he’ll be forced to race behind the pace, could prove pivotal & he’s another I expect to run well in a top class handicap.


Back Struth (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 23.00 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)

Back Desert Hero (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 23.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)


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5.00 Royal Ascot


30 runners, straight track, one mile trip.  Impossible to solve?  Maybe, but a great spectacle and one I cannot resist getting involved in.  Ralph Beckett who has saddled a big handicap winner already this week has the favourite in Quantum Impact and he’s secured the services of Frankie Dettori but a 5lbs higher mark will make this more difficult than the event he won at York last time.  Harry Eustace’s Docklands could be the proverbial Group horse in a handicap and he’s going to go well, you’d imagine, but you cannot say with certainty that he’s well in after being hit with a 14lbs hike in the weights.   Racingbreaks Ryder is bidding for a 5 timer but probably prefers softer ground.


Fort Vega – From a high draw, I like the chances of this Irish raider.  2 starts ago, when getting better ground, he won a maiden at Gowran Park staying on well to get up close home over 7 furlongs.  However, it was his run last time out in a really good handicap at Naas that caught the eye.  He was up with the pace that day, travelled really well and was going best 2 furlongs out.  He kicked on, went clear and never looked like getting caught from anything but a well regarded colt from the O’Brien yard in Broadhurst.  It’s worth noting the runner up is well entered up including the Group 1 Sussex Stakes so that indicates to me that he’s beaten a good ‘un.  His strong travelling style should suit and, if the rail is the place to be, he could go very close at a similar stiff track where you need to get every yard of the trip.  A 4lbs higher mark isn’t insurmountable and he looks a nice each way price.

Theoryofeverything – Arguably the most unexposed in the field, the selection still has form in the book that underlines his chances.  Making his racecourse debut in April, he won a novice event at Doncaster by 6 lengths and he instantly went into the notebook.  Connections were certainly impressed too as he was then pitched into the Group 3 Greenham where he ran well on soft ground to finish 3rd of 11 behind Isaac Shelby.  He disappointed last time out but Chester didn’t look to be his course and he was still in there pitching a furlong out before being eased off when beaten.  I’m sure he’ll be better off back on a straight track and I also feel like he could improve for the switch to faster ground.  If he finds improvement on his first run away from soft ground, his odds looks massively out of line and he should go well for his top yard.


Back Fort Vega (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 17.00 Boylesports BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)

Back Theoryofeverything (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 17.00 Boylesports BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)

Back them here:


6.10 Royal Ascot


The race I’m most looking forward to is the last race of the day, the 7 furlong Buckingham Palace handicap where Dettori’s Unforgotten and Buick’s Croupier are vying for favouritism.  Both have claims but there are others at bigger prices that interest me more.  Biggles looks an ideal type for this and should go well, whilst Rhoscolyn, who was 3rd in this last year, has dropped to a very attractive mark if retaining his old ability.  I thought long and hard about backing Totally Charming who was 7th in the Irish Lincoln when only fading inside the final furlong whilst last time out, here in the Victoria Cup, he ran well enough without threatening.   The concern is that he probably needs soft ground and if the rain does come, he’d be a bet.


Kingdom Come – This year, the selection has looked to be one of the most progressive handicapper’s in training and I don’t think he’s reached the ceiling of his ability yet.  He won 3 on the spin on the all weather over this trip, the latter 2 in handicaps off marks of 80 and 95.  The most recent of those, he comfortably beat Rainbow Fire who then went on to win a top Haydock handicap next time out, where the likes of Biggles and Rhoscolyn were in behind.  Back on turf last time out, he was 4th of 12 at Newbury in a race where Unforgotten was one place in front in 3rd, but watching the race back, he travelled best of all and it was that 8th furlong that was his undoing rather than any other factor.  Back at 7 furlongs, he’s going to prove a tough nut to crack provided his draw in stall 4 doesn’t hold him back.

Northern Express – The selection was narrowly denied in the Hambleton last time out behind Croupier and based on that run alone, he’s well worthy of a bet.  7 furlongs is his trip and he needs a strong pace so this set up couldn’t be better.    He likes to be held up off a strong pace, which he’ll get, and this stiff finish should bring him right into it.  However, the one thing that convinced me is the ground; he’s a different animal of firmish ground with form in handicaps of 311243 being as good as it gets.  Note that the 2nd was when he was beaten a neck behind Saleymm, the 4th when a length behind Fresh in the 21 runner Moet & Chandon last July and the 3rd when denied in that blanket finish in the Hambleton.  This is a career high mark but he still looks feasibly treated and I’ll be really disappointed if he’s not staying on best of all in the closing stages.


Back Kingdom Come (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 Sky Bet BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)

Back Northern Express (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 17.00 Sky Bet BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)

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