A really competitive handicap to start Day 3 and I’m going to give an each-way chance to Highland Chief for Paul and Oliver Cole. A winner on soft ground over five furlongs on his debut at Newbury last season, that was a creditable effort as on breeding that trip would have been plenty short for him. The horse in second that day progressed enough to be Group 3 placed before the season was out, so it looks in hindsight to have been a useful maiden.
Highland Chief ran in the Chesham at last year’s Royal meeting and ran really well in third behind two top-class horses in Pinatubo and Lope Y Fernandez. He was beaten just over four lengths and proved that he had plenty of ability. He then had three months off the track before reappearing in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket but I believe he pick up a little injury in that race, so a line can be put through that run. With Paddy playing 5 places he looks worth chancing each way.
Aloe Vera may well be up against it here and ratings say she has plenty to find but I think it is very interesting that she has been kept in training as a four-year-old after missing the second half of last season. She only made her debut last May at Chepstow over 10 furlongs and she was little green early but came with a really strong run to get up near the line, showing plenty of ability in the process.
Just three weeks later she was stepped up to Listed level at Goodwood and took the rise in grade in her stride, winning quite easily suggesting here was plenty more to come. She obviously met with a set back as we haven’t seen her in over a year but at the price, I’m willing to have a small each-way bet to see if she can improve on the positive impression she made last season. For an extra bonus, Paddy’s offering your money back as a free bet if your horse finishes 2nd, 3rd or 4th in this race up to £/€10 per customer.
Final Song has decent course form, breaking her maiden on soft ground here last May and running a cracker when third in the Queen Mary when 6/1 favourite. That looked a particularly strong renewal of the race, with the winner Raffle Prize a Group 1 winner later in the season and the likes of Liberty Beach and Al Raya behind, both winning Group races.
She ran a fair race in the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting and the wheels came off slightly in her last start of the season at Newmarket. She was in fair form in Meydan in the early part of the season but wasn’t showing form that suggested that she would be a player in the 1,000 Guineas.
In the Guineas she ran a screamer, travelling so well that she hit 2.90 in the run, despite her being a 100/1 shot. She just backed out of it in the final 150 yards and the drop to seven furlongs looks a good move. She has bagged a nice high draw and with Paddy paying 4 places, she looks to have decent each-way claims.
We have very little form to reference here but I was quite taken with how Modern News won his maiden at Newmarket on Guineas weekend. That looked to be a decent maiden and he quickened up nicely to power home. He should relish the stiffer six furlongs that Ascot presents and he might well give connections back to back wins in this race.
Stradivarius is going to be extremely difficult to beat in his quest for a hat trick of Ascot Gold Cup wins but I think there is plenty of value in backing Technician in the betting without Stradivarius market. There is plenty of rain forecast for Thursday and the more we get the better chance Technician will have. He has four runs on ground soft or worse and has won all four and really progressed for staying trips last season.
He won at Listed level in Longchamp, Group 3 level in Newbury before winning at Group 2 level on Arc weekend in Longchamp. He then finished up his season by breaking his duck at Group 1 level winning the Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp, staying on strongly to beat solid yardstick Call The Wind. He is unproven at this extreme stamina test but he does look like a horse that may actually improve for it and I think he can account for the rest of the field behind Stradivarius. If the rain was heavy and the ground got proper soft, he might even surprise the favourite.
There are bound to be plenty of well-treated horses in this big field handicap but it is doubtful that any are as well treated at Finest Sound. He ran well in three maidens last season, finishing third three times behind nice horses like Palace Pier, Via De Vega and Kinross. He started off in handicaps last week at Haydock off a lenient looking mark of 82 and he was extremely impressive when winning by over five lengths.
The clock says that his closing sectional was exceptional and he only has to carry a five-pound penalty here. The handicapper has raised him twelve pounds, so he is seven pounds ahead of his mark and in reality, he could have far more in hand. He has bagged a lovely high draw, which has been important this week on the straight track races and while Paddy are paying 6 places, I think we won’t need them and that Finest Sound can just get the job done for the same connections that won this race in 2018.
African Dream is sixteen pounds well in after her run in Newbury last week and if the handicapper is correct, she won’t be beaten. That said, there are a couple of negatives and perhaps she was flattered by her proximity to the winner at Newbury. With Paddy offering 5 places here, I’m going to play each way against her and the one that looks very interesting is Waliyak for Roger Varian.
She has had three runs in maidens, starting favourite each time and was second on her first two starts both over seven furlongs at Newmarket when there was plenty of cut in the ground. She was an easy winner over an extended mile at Wolverhampton and she looks to have a fair opening handicap mark of 84. She has got a favourable draw in 18 and any rain that falls won’t hinder her in the slightest.
Frank Hickey’s tips for Royal Ascot Day 3:
Essential reading for Thursday’s racing at Royal Ascot:
- Matt Chapman’s Super 7 For Thursday’s Racing At Royal Ascot
- Jason Weaver’s Best Royal Ascot Bets On Thursday
- Royal Ascot Live Stream: How To Watch The Racing For Free With Paddy Power