Royal Ascot 2018 – Day 3

2.30pm Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) 5f

Wesley Ward’s horses have been a touch underwhelming and I can’t have Shang Shang Shang, a few of these are also quite closely matched based on the National Stakes at Sandown so I’m looking away from the head of the market. Glory Fighter is a likeable type for Charles Hills whose form is working out well, he ran promisingly on debut where the third has come out and won since (they were 8 lengths clear of the rest). On his second start at Lingfield, Glory Fighter broke the 5f course record for two year olds which is some effort, the second has also come out and won impressively since which gives that run an extremely nice look to it. In a wide open race, he’s the one I’m siding with.

Advice – Glory Fighter 0.5pts Each Way (12/1)

3.05pm Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3) 1m2f

This strikes me as the sort of race where people want to take the favourite on, but I have looked away from Key Victory and keep on coming back to him. Both his wins at Newmarket were impressive despite him not really handling the track and the form of both is seriously strong. When he hit the rising ground there he really hit top gear and the stiff nature of Ascot should really suit him. He was fancied to go well in the French Derby but was slightly disappointing, that however can be forgiven on the soft ground and this race is easier, a return to a faster surface should suit him. His Dam is a full sister to the talented Poet’s Voice and Key Victory himself is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Blair House, given that he’s only had the three runs, there should be plenty more to come.

Advice – Key Victory 2pts Win (4/1)

3.40pm Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f

I’m not sure this is a particularly strong Ribblesdale and given that Wild Illusion was slightly disappointing over this distance in the Oaks, for me anyway, she also has to concede weight all round so I’m going to take her on. When a horse on the flat wins a race by 12 lengths, you have to stand up and take note, that’s exactly what Sun Maiden did at Salisbury in a good time. The bare form will no doubt need improving upon, but she looked an extremely high class filly on that occasion and with only 2 starts under her belt, is bound to improve. The step up in trip will definitely suit and her breeding gives you more than enough encouragement that she’s a top class group performer. By Frankel out of Midsummer, she’s a half-sister to 6-time Group 1 winner Midday and if she’s going to be hitting the lofty heights like her gifted family member, she’ll be going very close in this.

Advice – Sun Maiden 2pts Win (3/1)

4.20pm Gold Cup (Group 1) 2m4f

This is going to be a great race with a number of contenders, headed by 2016 winner Order Of St George and the talented yet tricky Vazirabad. But there is only one winner for me and that’s Stradivarius, who could hardly have been more impressive on his return to the track in the Yorkshire Cup, hacking up as he liked by 3-lengths. He’s the up and coming stayer that keeps on improving, he has plenty of speed but there doesn’t seem to be any end to his stamina as of yet and I believe he’ll relish the extra distance. He’s three from three on Good To Firm ground, including the Queen’s Vase at this meeting last year and represents an in-form trainer/jockey combo in the shape of John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. I think he’ll announce himself as the new staying star.

Advice – Stradivarius 2pts Win (2/1)

5.00pm Britannia Stakes (Class 2 Heritage Handicap) 1m

A 30 runner race that’s really tough to solve, but I’m going to be incredibly boring with my main pick and that’s Crack On Crack On. But I’ll say if you haven’t watched his Lingfield win, go and do so now, he traded 999/1 in running before coming out of the clouds with a rattling run to lead close home. He stepped up to a mile at Haydock last time which was bound to suit and he came from far back on that occasion as well to get the win. He’s so strong at the line and I think there’s plenty more to come, a mark of 93 is still underestimating him. This race looks tailor-made for the son of Havana Gold, a frenetic pace that he come off of on a stiff track, ideal. I’m also taking one at a bigger price in the form of James Cook, this brother to superstar Found is completely unexposed and makes his first appearance in a handicap off a mark of just 97. His only win came at a mile and he only just lasted home on soft ground that day, having been campaigned over 1m2f so far this season I’m not actually convinced he’s stayed the distance. Ryan Moore was very easy on him in the closing stages of the Dante and he faded rapidly inside the the final 50 yards or so. I feel dropping back to this distance is what he needs at the moment and I think he’s capable of better than he’s shown so far, his price looks too big.

Advice – Crack On Crack On 1pt Each Way (15/2), James Cook 0.5pts Each Way (25/1, 6 Places, 1/4 odds bet365)

5.35pm King George V Stakes (Class 2 Handicap) 1m4f

I’ve been keeping a very close eye on Dubhe throughout his career thus far as his breeding screams talent, he’s a son of Dubawi and Irish Oaks winner Great Heavens so this step up to a mile and a half has been a long time coming. He finally put it all together on his last start when comfortably beating the London Gold Cup winner Communique by 4-lengths, hitting the line really strongly. There’s plenty more to come and if handling this better ground he won’t be far away. I also think Cassini could be well-handicapped for John Gosden following a maiden win at Windsor. He was only 2¼ lengths behind Dubhe on his debut and followed that effort up to be third in a good race behind Crossed Baton and Stephensons Rocket over a mile, his stamina started to kick in and he stayed on strongly inside the final half furlong. He beat a promising sort of Roger Charlton’s last time when they were 6-lengths clear of the third and he’s another who will definitely benefit from this extra couple of furlongs.

Advice – Dubhe 0.5pts Each Way (12/1), Cassini 0.5pts Each Way (18/1, 5 Places, 1/4 odds bet365)


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