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Royal Ascot Thursday tips – best bets for day three of the royal meeting

Royal Ascot

Our racing expert has run the rule over Thursday's Royal Ascot card.

14:30 Norfolk Stakes (Group 2), 5f

The Group 2 Norfolk Stakes over 5f attracts some seriously fast juveniles and opens up proceedings on day three of the royal meeting.

Who’s favourite?
The Ed Dunlop-trained Global Applause has impressed in winning both his starts over 5f and he had an excuse when beaten over 6f at Newbury in between as, according to his trainer, his subsequent blood tests came back wrong. A son of freshman sire Mayson, winner of the 2012 July Cup, he is the first winner produced by the Royal applause mare Crown, a three-time winner from 5f-6f. He’s all about speed then and he sets the standard on form having beaten Mehmas in the National Stakes at Sandown last time, with that horse running a cracker to beat all bar Caravaggio in Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes. He’s yet to race on soft but Dunlop is not concerned at the prospect (see trainer quote below) and he seems certain to go off favourite (2/1 general) with Frankie Dettori taking over from Ryan Moore (claimed for Peave Envoy).

Who else is fancied?
Godolphin’s Silver Line was a comfortable winner at Nottingham on his debut and while it’s hard to tell how much he achieved in success, he couldn’t have done it any easier and he has a Group 1 entry later in the season.

Wesley Ward’s juvenile runners at this meeting are always to be respected and he won this contest with No Nay Never in 2013, so his stablemate Red Lodge is entitled to respect. A beaten favourite (30/100) at Keeneland on his debut, he’s since made amends when beating rival rivals on grass at Belmont Park and, like all the stable runners here, he will have been trained to the minute. The worry with him is soft ground and Ward has expressed his concerns over that.

Richard Hannon won this in 2014 with Baitha Alga and he saddles another likely type in Legendary Lunch, who is 2-3 and has proved himself versatile over the ground. He only won on the nod at Epsom last time after quickening into a clear lead two furlongs out and being headed close home, but his rider reported that he took it up too soon. He will need to settle a bit better.

Aidan O’Brien has won this twice, including with Waterloo Bridge 12 months ago, and his representative Peace Envoy, a son of Coventry Stakes winner Power, is another worth considering with Ryan Moore booked.

Any decent outsiders?
The front five all hold solid credentials so it will be a surprise if the winner isn’t amongst them, but you should never discount Mark Johnston’s juveniles at this meeting and The Last Lion, who won the Brocklesby on soft ground, has each-way claims (25/1 with Sky Bet currently).

Trainer quote: “I’m not at all worried about the rain as he won’t mind any ground, although I’m not sure very fast would suit him. Winning two-year-old races at Royal Ascot is very difficult, but he has bags of class and should be a big player.” – Ed Dunlop on Global Applause.

Best bookie offer?
Each-way backers are advised to head to bet365 as they are offering one quarter the odds instead of the standard fifth.

Who’s going to win?
GLOABL APPLAUSE has clocked fast times in winning two of his three starts and his defeat of Mehmas last time sets a high form standard. He’s hardly an original choice but I think he’ll win.

SELECTIONS

Global Applause 2pts @ 2/1 bet365

15:05 Tercentenary Stakes (Group 3) (Formerly The Hampton Court Stakes), 1m2f

The Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes, run over 1m2f, is a key stepping stone for three-year-olds heading for better things, but it’s a decent race in its own right.

Who’s favourite?
An open renewal and Sir Michael Stoute’s Abdon is disputing favouritism with a couple of others, including Charlie Appleby’s Hawkbill. The pair clashed over this trip at Newmarket in April and Hawkbill ran out a length and a quarter winner, extending his unbeaten run to four in the process, having won three on the bounce on the all-weather. However, it was the Stoute runner emerged with plenty of credit as he was having his first race since landing a Newbury maiden over a mile last August and he would have benefited from more of a test. It should be close between them here.

Who else is fancied?
Blue De Vega has twice finished behind Awtaad this season, including when a well beaten third in the Irish 2000 Guineas last time, and the way he was staying on at the Curragh provides hope that he can stay this extra distance. He won twice on yielding ground as a juvenile so should handle today’s conditions, although connections have suggested on a couple of occasions that he needs better ground to show his best. A penalty for winning a Group 3 last season is another negative and it’s worth noting that not one of the last ten winners had triumphed in Group company.

The Hannon stable has never won this but they look to have a suitable candidate in Steel Of Madrid, who showed his appreciation for this trip when landing a Listed contest at Newmarket last time. The race developed into a sprint-off between the first three after a slow early pace and he perhaps would have won a bit cosier with a stronger gallop.

Any decent outsiders?
Godolphin look to have a solid second string in Prize Money. A son of Derby winner Authorised, he was only just run out of it by Algometer at Goodwood last time and was giving the useful Taqder 8lb when beaten by that horse on his reappearance. He should relish the ground as he did when bounding clear on his Newmarket debut last October.

It’s not very often that an Aidan O’Brien-trained runner goes under the bookmakers’ radar, but his Long Island Sound could be a tad overpriced at 9/1 (bet365) given he is 3-3 and looks a Group horse in the making. He does have his stamina to prove, though.

Best bookie offer?
Each-way backers are advised to head to bet365 as they are offering one quarter the odds instead of the standard fifth.

Who’s going to win?
Progressive horses are often the way to go in this with six of the last ten winners winning a handicap during their career and Richard Hannon’s STEEL OF MADRID fits the bill – he’s a value price too.

SELECTION

Steel Of Madrid 1pt each-way @ 13/2 bet365 (¼ odds, 1.2.3)

15:40 Ribblesdale Stakes (Fillies’ Group 2), 1m4f

The Ribblesdale Stakes is a Group 2 contest for three-year-old fillies and is run over a trip of 1m4f, with Irish-trained fillies winning four of the last five runnings.

Who’s favourite?
Oaks runners in the Ribblesdale have become a rare species and for a reason – there simply isn’t a big enough gap between Epsom and Ascot with trainers preferring to give their horses longer to recover. Indeed, only one horse in the last ten seasons has won this after running in the fillies’ Classic. That doesn’t bode well for Hugo Palmer’s Architecture, who ran a huge race to chase home Minding just 13 days ago, although Palmer has said she has come out of that race well. She’s the clear form horse but, with a big question mark over whether she can reproduce it here, is an uneasy 11/4 favourite.

Who else is fancied?
Aidan O’Brien, who sent out Bracelet to score in 2014, has whittled his team down to just one, Even Song. She was on the minds of plenty as the only serious danger to Minding for the Oaks until connections decided to let their superstar filly do it on her own, and she arrives here a fresh horse as a result. A half-sister to last season’s St Leger winner Simple Verse, she looked in need of the run when a well beaten third in the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on her reappearance and, having got going all too late in that 1m2f race, she ought to relish today’s extra two furlongs.

John Gosden’s Sovereign Parade is third in the betting and is the least experience runner in the field, having won a Salisbury maiden on her sole start. A 480,000gns yearling and a daughter of Galileo, she’s clearly held in high regard now being pitched straight into Group 2 company and she also holds an entry in the Group 1 Irish Oaks. Even so, this is a huge step up in class.

Any decent outsiders?
Ribblesdale winners can emerge from all quarters in terms of experience, form and race distance, so those with less obvious claims need closely looking at. Of these, Sir Michael Stoute’s Queen’s Trust has potential at this distance given how she kept on for fourth over 1m2f at Newbury in May, while Ralph Beckett’s Chicadoro is another with potential and could well have bumped into a top-class filly in Swiss Range when runner-up in the aforementioned Pretty Polly, with Even Song nearly three lengths behind in third. Her Haydock maiden win came on soft ground.

John Gosden and Hugo Palmer have solid second strings in The Black Princess and We Are Ninety, who would be a highly appropriate winner in this week of all weeks. Although beaten in a Chelmsford handicap on her penultimate start, she showed that form all wrong when winning a well-contested Listed race at Newbury last time and could outrun her 14/1 price tag.

Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes as a free bet (up to £25) if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite.

Who’s going to win?
It could pay to give Architecture a swerve for the reason given and the obvious alternative is Even Song at a best-priced 9/2 with Paddy Power, which is very tempting given their offer. But at bigger odds I’m going to take a chance on CHICADORO as she promises to come into her own over this trip and her trainer excels with improving fillies.

SELECTION

Chicadoro 1pt each-way @ 12/1 Paddy Power

16:20 Gold Cup In Honour Of The Queen’s 90th Birthday (Group 1) (British Champions Series), 2m4f

The Gold Cup is Ascot’s oldest surviving race dating back to 1807 and is the most prestigious prize of the week. At 2m4f it provides a unique examination in the staying division and few horses stay that far. This year it is being run in honour of The Queen’s 90th birthday.

Who’s favourite?
Order Of St George is even money favourite for a race his trainer Aidan O’Brien has won six times (from his last ten runners) and like his three winning stablemates before him – Yeats (2006-09), Fame And Glory (2011) and Leading Light (2014) – he will line up with his stamina to prove having not raced beyond 1m6f. That said, his form at that trip, which includes a wide margin winner success in the Irish St Leger last September, sets a formidable standard and, given his trainer is a master at developing top-class stayers and has prepared him for this all year, he thoroughly deserves his place at the head of the market.

Who else is fancied?

Willie Mullins’ Max Dynamite is seen as the main danger by bookmakers, with quotes ranging from 7/1 to 9/1, and he’s undoubtedly the form horse after bolting up in last year’s Lonsdale Cup over 2m at York and following that up with a valiant second in the Melbourne Cup when he didn’t get the best of runs. However, he was soon beaten when finishing only third of four behind Pallasator on his Sandown return and, while the fast ground may have been a factor, it was a disappointing effort nonetheless.

Flying Officer won over 2m here on Champions Day and was entitled to need the run when a close third behind Mizzou and Clever Cookie in the Sagaro Stakes over the same course and distance on his reappearance, when giving those horses 5lb. He promises to stay this far and has done most of his winning in soft ground, but I wouldn’t be so sure of him reversing the Ascot form here. Clever Cookie is looking as good as ever at the age of eight and has his ground, while Mizzou can be expected to improve on his seventh in this 12 months ago, when he was caught out by a slow pace and ground faster than ideal.

Any decent outsiders?
Of those at 25/1 or bigger, David Simcock’s Curbyourenthusiasm makes some appeal as an unexposed stayer coming off a career-best second in the Yorkshire Cup over 1m6f. His trainer is adamant that he will be even better over further. The rest are much harder to fancy.

Best bookie offer?
Anyone looking to take on Order Of St George should head to Paddy Power as they are refunding losing stakes (as a free bet up to £25) if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite.

Who’s going to win?
Order Of St George looks the most likely winner, but the recent rain will place even more of a premium on stamina and, with his trainer expressing some concerns over that, he is opposed at his miserly price. At least he makes the market for the other runners and I’ve a feeling that this year’s Sagaro could again be the key race – it has supplied two of the last four winners. MIZZOU was all out to beat Clever Cookie, but Luca Cumani’s runner would have needed the run more and this has no doubt been the plan since last year, when he needed a stronger gallop.

SELECTION

Mizzou 1pt each-way @ 12/1 Paddy Power

17:00 Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (Str), 1m

The Britannia Stakes is a handicap open to three-year-old colts and geldings and is run over a distance of a 1m on the straight course.

Who’s favourite?
An impossible-looking handicap and that some bookmakers go 10/1 the field tells you hard it is going to be to win it. A couple of the 30 runners are trading at single-figures with some firms and Defrocked is bet365’s clear favourite at the time of writing and Jamie Osborne’s gelding has certainly looked progressive this term in winning two of his three starts, including a competitive Doncaster handicap last time, despite hanging badly to the right approaching the final furlong. That quirkiness and the fact he’s now 10lb higher make me want to look elsewhere for the winner.

It might be worth stopping at William Haggas’ Out And About, who is disputing favouritism, as he looks a ‘plot’ horse and has a similar profile to the same stable’s Fast Or Free, who landed a gamble in this four years ago. Like that horse, he probably has plenty in hand over the handicapper who has been generous in raising him just 8lb for his tidy success in a Haydock handicap over 7f on his reappearance, his first run back since being gelded. A strapping individual with loads of scope, he is bred to get a mile doing handsprings (closely related to four winners at up to 1m2f) and Ryan Moore, who presumably could have ridden Aidan O’Brien’s Monarch, renews the partnership.

Who else is fancied?
There are plenty of others to consider of course and Sit Michael Stoute’s Mustashry has been well touted in the run-up in the belief he is on a competitive mark after winning a Thirsk maiden by six lengths on his reappearance and is open to bags of improvement after just three starts. He’s never encountered ground this soft, though.

Folkswood looked a stout stayer when winning over 1m at Newmarket but his rider William Buick described him as “immature” afterwards and, in that case, this very different test might come too soon in his development.

The progressive pair of Garcia and Chief Whip fought out the finish of a hot handicap at Haydock last time with the former just prevailing (Above N Beyond and Kingston Kurrajong were back in third and sixth respectively). The Richard Fahey-trained winner is fancied to lead that quartet home again as he is well at home on soft ground.

Any decent outsiders?
John Gosden hasn’t won this race for a while, but he landed it four times between 1996 and 2001 and he relies on Predilection, who was a close third in a Listed race on Lingfield’s Polytrack last time and looks the type to be suited by a big-field handicap. He’s a 20/1 shot with BetVictor, who go the same price on Richard Hannon’s Oh This Is Us, who is chasing a four-timer and may not have stopped improving yet.

Best bookie offer?
Most firms are offering five places to each-way backers, but Paddy Power have gone one step further as they are paying out on the sixth horse home!

Who’s going to win?
On the basis that half the field are priced at 40/1 or bigger and are hard to fancy, this might not be as impossible as it looks and a couple who look miles better than their marks are Mustashry and OUT AND ABOUT, with the latter just getting the nod.

SELECTION

Out And About each-way @ 10/1 Coral (¼ odds, 1.2.3.4.5) – Paddy Power go 9/1 and six places

17:35 King George V Stakes (Handicap), 1m4f

He’s hardly an original choice as he’s heading bet365’s market at 5/1, but Sir Michael Stoute’s impressive Newcastle winner SHRAAOH is potentially thrown in on a mark of 91 and must take all the beating if handling the dig in the ground. Mick Channon’s Harrison will find this far easier after taking on Derby contenders in the Dante Stakes last time and was a promising third at Sandown on his reappearance, when conceding weight to the first two, so he might reward each-way support at Paddy Power’s 14/1. Godolphin’s Lovell and Alan King’s Primitivo, who is chasing a four-timer, complete the shortlist.

SELECTION

Shaaoh 1pt @ 5/1 bet365

Good luck with your Royal Ascot bets!

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