2.30 Ascot Norfolk Stakes 5f (Group 2)
Day 3 is kicked off with one of the most competitive contests of the week with the five furlong Norfolk Stakes. You could make a case for most of these and i’ve been staring at the card for a absolutely ages trying to find out where to begin. Most firms are doing four places on this one so i’ll try and pin point a few possible selections. The market leader is another Wesley Ward raider in McErin trading at a general 6/1. Wesley to these races is pretty much what Rafael Nadal is to Roland Garros, he’s a master at them so whatever he sends he commands massive respect. McErin won well on debut and was just beaten in a three way photo the next time out, there’s a big chance of another bold showing from a Ward trained horse. One I like at a bigger price is Frozen Angel for Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote, he finished just behind Havana Grey after a strange race in a Listed contest at Sandown where he seemed to fade mid race before running on again, he was an expensive yearling and if settling better throughout the race as he did in his solitary victory over course and distance in May he may well feature at the business end again. Another each way selection looks to be Cardsharp for Mark Johnston, he’s had a few runs in quick succession as you’d expect for Johnston horse but he seems to have a bit on these with his decent second in the Woodcote at Epsom before winning at Beverley. He could produce another big run. Viscount Loftus and Koditime could also outrun their odds.
Selections McErin 6/1 E/W – Frozen Angel 10/1 E/W – Cardsharp 16/1 E/W
3.05 Hampton Stakes 1m 2f (Group 3)
This year’s Hampton Stakes is another massively competitive affair and has four horses at the top of the market that i’m a huge fan of so it’s been increasingly difficult to split them. The first of these is Benbatl for Saeed Bin Surror at around 9/2. I saw him make his debut at Doncaster when winning in taking style and I then saw him follow up when finishing second in the Dante at York. His last outing was a very decent fifth in the Derby which clearly makes him a huge player. Next up is Mirage Dancer for Sir Michael Stoute, another Frankel offspring and i’ve seen this one on both of his starts, his debut win at Doncaster last October and his fourth in a Listed contest at Chester’s May Festival. He was very unlucky that day at Chester and was arguably one of the eye catchers of the week when finishing strongly in fourth, I think he has a lot more to come and with a better run he could very well start that progression here. Two of the Irish raiders have been battling it just below them in the market in Orderofthegarther and Irishcorrespondent, the first of these Orderofthegarter for O’Brien has been contesting some big Group 1 races over in France since his two impressive wins at the start of the season. Whereas Irishcorrespondent was a good third behind Churchill in the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh. Both of these are players on their respective form.
Selections – Mirage Dancer 9/2 E/W – Orderofthegarter 6/1 E/W
3.40 Ribblesdale Stakes 1m 4f (Group 2)
The Ribbslesdale this year is headed by one of the best bred horses of the week in Mori for Sir Michael Stoute and Irish Champion Jockey Pat Smullen. This one is by Frankel and Midday and bids to make Sir Michael the most successful trainer in Royal Ascot history taking over ironically from Frankel’s trainer the late Sir Henry Cecil. Mori comes here on the back of two very impressive Listed victories and looks certain to make a serious bid. Alluringly is Coolmore’s challenge on the back of her defeats to Enable in the Cheshire Oaks and the Epsom Oaks, if those too big runs haven’t took it out of her she’s sure to be a big player. The each way selection here looks to be Coronet for John Gosden and Olivier Peslier, she was a staying on third in the Prix Saint-Alary and was a bit below par at Epsom when fifth. I think she can bounce back here and make a bold bid to get into the frame. The Irish raider Naughty Or Nice could be one to outrun her odds.
Selections: Mori 9/4 – Coronet 9/1 E/W
4.20 Gold Cup 2m 4f (Group 1)
The big one of the week now the Gold Cup and it’s headed by last year’s winner Order Of St George for AP O’Brien and Ryan Moore. AP has won this several times with the same horses year after year most notably Yeates a few years back and this looks to be the plan with Order Of St George. Lets be hones’t he should be taking this, there’s not all that much to take him on with and if he shows the form that won this for him last year’s he’s going to be very difficult to peg back. The slight issue with him is that he’s been beaten three of the last five outings at short odds and he is known for having an off day, he did finish a brilliant third in the Arc within those outings though and he returned to form with a decent reappearance win at Leopardstown last time out, he’s a general even money chance at the top of the market. Big Orange for Michael Bell will be a popular bet and he will likely take things up from the front, he won a Group 3 well at Sandown front running last month. There’s a couple of each way alternatives to the market leader in here that I like and the first of these is Simple Verse for Ralph Beckett and Oisin Murphy. She’ll have a slight weight allowance and has appeared to return to her brilliant 2015 form after winning the Park Hall at Doncaster last year with a brilliant third here on Champions Day and a very close up second in the York Cup last month. I was at York that day and it was a fine run from her and she looked brilliant in the paddock. The other one I like is Sweet Selection for Hughie Morrison and in form rider Silvestre De Sousa. Granted he does have a bit to find on the majority of these with form but he is one of the few that is guaranteed to stay the trip and he’s progressed massively within the past year the latest run being a Group 3 success at this track. If anywhere near his best Order Of St George should be winning but there’s a few that could give him a bit to think about.
Selections: Order Of St George 1/1 – Simple Verse 17/2 E/W – Sweet Selection 16/1 E/W