The races are flying by at Royal Ascot as the third day of the royal meeting already approaches. After a brilliant first day for us the second wasn’t quite so successful, even if we still managed to find two winners and a decent priced place.
The obvious highlight was the win of Highland Reel. It might not have been the strongest Group One but the way in which he won and just the way he goes about his racing makes him such a great racehorse. We don’t often get to see these top class flat horses race on for so long or build the attachments like we do with the great jumpers, so it’s great to see a horse like him performing time and again at the top meetings.
On to the day three action and our picks for Ladies Day.
2:30 Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) 5f
Wesley Ward has already had two winners at the meeting with the brilliant Lady Aurelia and a surprise winner coming over a mile in the Sandringham, and he can add to his tally with MCERIN. He may have been beaten last time out but I just can’t get away from the Ward speedsters who seem so far ahead of the rest and at 5/1 is very backable. The biggest threat will come from Havana Grey who has been very impressive so far and perhaps even Consequences at a bigger price.
3:05 Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3) 1m2f
A very competitive field with a number of beaten horses from various Derby’s lining-up. I think it will be tough for those following up from Epsom to figure so will be looking elsewhere and the pick goes to TAMLEEK. I can’t confess to being the biggest fan of Saeed Bin Suroor but Tamleek heads here fresher than others and will like the quick going, on breeding and having won on good to firm at Newmarket earlier this year. Orderofthegarter will be a threat if over his French Derby exertions, whilst Mirage Dancer could be good but I can’t be having him at the prices on what we’ve seen.
3:40 Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f
MORI is impeccably bred and gets the pick here. Beaten on debut she looked in need of the experience that day and wasn’t pushed all that hard; the experience obviously had a positive effect as she has won her two starts since and I was really impressed with how she did it at Goodwood last time out. She wasn’t remarkably flash but went about her business well, battled impressively and got the job done when it mattered. There could be further improvement and she’d be my pick of the day.
Alluringly is the obvious danger given her run in the Oaks, whilst the Haggas filly Coconut Creme interests at a bigger price.
4:20 Gold Cup (Group 1) 2m4f
An extreme trip for a Group One and the highlight of the Thursday card in which ORDER OF ST GEORGE can follow up his victory of last year. It might be an obvious choice at the prices and I recognise the concerns some have, but if O’Brien has him fully geared up for this his class will be too much for anything else in the line-up. He was good enough to finish third in an Arc, form which nothing in this field could get anywhere near on their day.
There are plenty of other very good horses in the line-up who would be worth backing each way in case the favourite doesn’t perform, most notably Big Orange, but they also have their own various concerns so it may pay to take a chance with last year’s St Leger winner Harbour Law who is sure to enjoy the marathon trip.
5:00 Britannia Stakes (Class 2 Hcap) 1m
Another of the ultra competitive handicaps at the meeting where it’s tempting to just chuck a dart at the paper and take your chance. Son Of The Stars is favourite and you can see why, but at the price he is likely to go off at he is a win only proposition so I will be looking elsewhere.
The pick goes to AFAAK who is potentially better than we’ve seen and could appreciate the conditions having won on good to firm on his second start. If he can get himself well positioned and avoid the obvious danger of trouble in running I can see him going close at a price that is playable each way. At a bigger price I might try Via Serendipity who is dropped a couple in the handicap and has been gelded since his last run, which could calm him down and bring some improvement.
5:35 King George V Stakes (Hcap Class 2) 1m4f
The closing race on the ladies day card looks a tough nut to crack with a number in the field who look like potential winners. Atty Persse is current favourite and the son of Frankel is sure to popular with punters. He should appreciate the step up in trip and I could see him winning but the choice goes to another who is also likely to improve for going over a longer trip. TARTINI is from a family John Gosden knows extremely well and all of his best siblings, including the St Leger winner Lucarno, have been seen to their best over a mile and a half and beyond. His form over shorter distances has a solid enough look to it and he can progress to figure here.
2:30 McErin @ 5/1 (Betfair)
3:05 Tamleek @ 9/1 (Bet365)
3:40 Mori @ 11/4 (SkyBet) & Cocunut Creme e/w @ 25/1 (Stan James, ⅕ odds, first 3)
4:20 Order Of St George @ EVS (Bet365)
5:00 Afaak @ 16/1 (Bet365) & Via Serendipity e/w @ 66/1 (Stan James, ¼ odds first 5)
5:35 Tartini @ 12/1 (Betfair)