Betfred TV’s Matt Hulmes and Gil Woolley share their tips for day three of Royal Ascot
It’s Gold Cup day at Royal Ascot, and history awaits as superstar stayer Stradivarius bids to emulate Yeats and win the race for a fourth time and a fifth victory at the meeting.
I’d recommend a weather watch as thunderstorms are forecast for the area over the next 48 hours, so a keen eye will be kept on the sky.
The Norfolk Stakes is for the speediest juvenile colts, and once again Wesley Ward saddles the favourite. Lucci made all to win easily at Belmont on firm ground six weeks ago and looks to give Wesley Ward a third win in the race.
No favourite has won the Norfolk in the last decade, but the biggest SP was 14/1 and eight started at single figure prices.
GO BEARS GO won at Ascot on debut last month, making all and pulling out more at the line. That was on soft ground, so he may be looking for the storms to hit, although there are good ground winners in his pedigree.
Cadamosto, Nakatomi, Instinctive Move and Project Dante all won their only starts so far, while Second Wind is two from two for William Haggas.
The Hampton Court revolves around the exciting Mohaafeth.
Trained by William Haggas, the son of Frankel was withdrawn from the Derby on the day of the race due to the ground, so will hopefully relish the quicker conditions in Berkshire. Having looked potentially top class when bolting up at Newmarket, it would be no surprise to see him run very well.
There are dangers though, including the likes of Roman Empire, who was not beaten far when finishing fourth in the Dante, and Movin Time, who looked very classy when easily winning a Newmarket maiden.
Godolphin’s One Ruler was disappointing at Epsom, but going back down in trip will help his chances and if he can settle he can certainly be competitive.
The selection, however, is PYTHAGORAS.
He boasted some good form last season, and the plan was to run in the Derby – but having finished fourth in the Blue Riband Trial and then sixth in the Dante, the son of Zoffany was rerouted to the Hampton Court and can give Richard Fahey, who doesn’t normally target in this race, his first win in the race.
The key piece of form for the Ribblesdale lies at Newbury five weeks ago, when Eshaada sprung an 18/1 surprise to beat Gloria Mundi and Twisted Reality in a Listed contest.
The winner needed every yard of the ten furlongs, so will most likely appreciate the extra trip, while connections were sweet on Twisted Reality who should come on plenty for that run and get closer to the winner.
That is the key form, but the best form looks to be the Musidora at York which saw NOON STAR finish just over three lengths behind Oaks winner Snowfall.
She was a well-backed favourite that day but hung right under pressure, so a switch to this track should help on that score. She was impressive when winning at Wetherby, beating Loving Dream and subsequent Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Sherbert Lemon. She is another on the card who would appreciate a little bit of rain.
Divinely comes directly from the Oaks at Epsom where she ran a solid third, but was eighteen lengths behind the winner and it’s a quick turnaround to back up that effort just thirteen days later.
John Gosden saddles three in his quest for a fourth success in five years in the Ribblesdale – as well as the aforementioned Gloria Mundi under Frankie Dettori, he saddles Taslima (third in the Pretty Polly on her second start behind oaks runner-up Mystery Angel) and Loving Dream, who has two and half lengths to find on Noon Star on their Wetherby running.
Stradivarius bids for history as he tries to emulate Yeats by winning four Ascot Gold Cups.
In what is likely to be his last season in training, the evergreen seven-year-old has been prepared slightly differently this season having won the Sagaro Stakes, and he goes int othe race as the one to beat.
A fascinating contender is Serpentine, who will be the first Derby winner to run in the race since 1970. Ryan Moore will be on board and the vibes around Ballydoyle, who also have Santiago and Amhran Na Bhfiann, are very positive.
Mark Johnston will rely on Dubai Gold Cup hero Subjectivist and last season’s runner up Nayef Road as he looks for a fourth win in the race.
The ground may have gone against Trueshan for Alan King, who bolted up to win the Long Distance Cup on QIPCO Champions Day. Another who may have come into the reckoning if it were soft is Princess Zoe, who showed flashes of brilliance last season but has disappointed so far this season.
The selection is RIP VAN LIPS, who brings a completely different form line to the race and will relish going up in trip. The German stayer is a huge price and will have to run a career best, but after good runs at Chantilly and most recently Hoppegarten, there is every chance he can hit the frame.
The Britannia Stakes is an absolute lottery this year, with 30 three-year-olds spread across the track in this cavalry charge. It’s already a punter’s puzzle, and only gets worse when you factor in the prospect of any rain that may fall in the meantime. It could be wise to take a horse from each side of the track and tread carefully.
First I will go for one on the far side, AIR TO AIR, who has the services of Jamie Spencer who won this race in 2016 and 2017. George Boughey’s runner is on a hat-trick after victories at Newmarket and then over the mile at Doncaster in impressive style twelve days ago. He gets in here off just 8-7 and is a likely player having won on different types of ground.
I also like the look of Silver Bowl winner RAADOBERG, who sluiced through the mud at Haydock to win that prize quite easily, settling it with a turn of foot about two out. He was being closed down at the line, but he looked like a future Group horse the way he quickened, and he won his maiden on good to firm ground so it all comes alike. Roger Varian won the race with Khaloosy last year and despite the 11lb rise, he is a major player.
Mithras will be popular for Frankie Dettori and John Gosden. He won a decent early season handicap at Newbury but was well held in Listed company at Sandown since and needs to bounce back.
Aerion Power is on a four-timer for Sir Michael Stoute now the penny has dropped – but he’s up another 7lbs for his latest win. He’s the choice of Silvestre De Sousa over fellow King Power runner and hat-trick seeker Siam Fox.
George Peabody kept finding for pressure when winning under a penalty at Thirsk two months ago, while Perotto flew home to just get up at Goodwood last Sunday. That was over seven furlongs and he is 4lbs wrong under a penalty but has the Champion Jockey on board this time.
One to keep an eye on at a big price is Big Narstie for Richard Spencer under Hayley Turner. He ran second at the track behind the progressive Aldaary (runs 6.10) over seven furlongs. He is having just his fifth start and could be well-berthed in stall 29, while Summa Peto deserves a mention for spreadeagling the field in what looked like a decent Wolverhampton handicap recently but has a 9lb rose to cope with.
Qaader was second in last year’s Coventry and brings some solid juvenile pattern form to the table. He is closely matched with Legal Attack on their Goodwood meeting at the end of April.
Aidan O’Brien has somewhat surprisingly only won the King George V Stakes once, and could double that tally this year with Sir Lamorak. Having won both of his starts so far this season, the son of Camelot will enjoy a stiff test and with a quick pace all but guaranteed he could be very hard to stop.
LORD PROTECTOR has looked potentially very good so far this season and remains unbeaten. The German-bred colt will be stepping up in trip but should have no issue with the extra two furlongs and is the selection.
Roger Varian’s Nagano has looked good in two starts at Nottingham and Newcastle respectively, but this is a big step up in class – while, of the others, Parachute for Ed Walker and Surrey Gold for Hughie Morrison could both run well.
The final race of the day is yet another devilishly difficult puzzle to solve, with 29 runners tackling the straight seven furlongs. Each of the last seven winners have returned a double figure price.
Aldaary is likely to be popular after he bolted up here on seasonal return (ahead of Big Narstie who runs at 5.00pm), and there was no disgrace in losing his unbeaten record at Goodwood subsequently. The winner of that race followed up at Epsom on Derby Day though, franking the form, and he gets a valuable 9lb weight-for-age allowance as the only three-year-old in the field who won’t have finished improving just yet.
The vote goes to PERSUASION for Charles Hills and James Doyle. He beat subsequent winning stablemate Dulas at Haydock on his seasonal debut and has only been put up 3lbs.
He was highly-tried as a juvenile after a winning debut and ran in the 2000 Guineas without troubling the principals. He showed a bit more on his final 3yo start and started this campaign in the best fashion.
Boardman has been a revelation this season, rattling of a hat-trick and climbing the handicap ladder, rising 21lbs in total. The manner of his latest Chester win suggests this latest 6lbs rise may be within his compass.
Lots of Ascot regulars are in the line-up too, with Raising Sand, Blue Mist and Ropey Guest all having claims on their best form – while Danyah and Tomfre are consistent four-year-olds who are likely to give their running but may not be as well handicapped as a few others as a result.