DAY 3 at Royal Ascot is all about the Gold Cup at 4.20pm. It says much about the staying division over the last year that despite winning his six last starts, Stradivarius’ rating has remained almost unchanged. Eight runs ago he had a mark of 116. Now he’s on 120. But that is not the fault of Stradivarius, who quite simply has the will to win that every racehorse needs to score at the top level.
With Kew Gardens out, it looks a three-horse affair with the Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee and Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter the main dangers. In both cases I think Stradivarius has more speed and stays stronger, so he is very hard to oppose for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. That said, on the official scale he only has 1lb in hand of Cross Counter, who is a real threat.
The day starts starts at 2.30pm with the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes over 5f. The one I like here each-way is VENTURA REBEL, who was a surprise winner at Ascot last time for Richard Fahey. I was at the track that day for Sky Sports and there seemed no fluke about the success at all. Appears tough and clearly has ability. Big mount for former champion jockey Paul Hanagan.
Next up is the Hampton Court Stakes, a Group 3 over nearly 1m 2f at 3.05pm. FOX CHAIRMAN has every chance of hitting the frame for Andrew Balding and Sylvestre de Sousa. He never got a chance to shine at Chester last time when boxed in, but he showed enough behind Circus Maximus (who won again here on Tuesday) to suggest after just two runs, there could be much more to come.
The fillies take centre stage at 3.40pm in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes over 1m 4f. FRANKELLINA didn’t really act at Epsom in the Oaks and has ground to make up on Fleeting. However, having run green at York the time before I wasn’t surprised by that. I suspect the William Haggas-trained runner is much better than we saw in the Classic and she is a fair each-way bet on Thursday.
The Britannia Handicap over 1m at 5pm has loads of improvers in it but BEATBOXER really improved for John Gosden last time. After two dismal runs he might just be coming to form at the right time. A strong pace will suit my hope as he likes to close in and should give Robert Havlin a good spin.
We end the day with the King George V Stakes Handicap 5.35pm over 1m 4f. SINJAARI could be another to run well for the Haggas stable. I was at Windsor when he scored with ease recently and he was far from disgraced when second at Newbury on his next start. The step up in trip is likely to suit.
So best of luck and hope for Yeeehaaas! You hear me Paddy?