Royal Ascot got under way on Tuesday with great races in prospect every day this week. Here is your guide to the third day of one of flat racing’s finest meetings.
Royal Ascot 2021 tips and best bets for Thursday
2.30pm Norfolk Stakes
It was not hard to spot KORKER finishing with a wet sail on his debut in a 5f novice at York’s Dante meeting, only to be narrowly denied by the re-opposing Project Dante. Sectional times point to Korker being unlucky in defeat there, having been slowly away, and it was pleasing to see him cope with softer ground when obliging at the 2nd time of asking 20 days ago in a 5f novice at Carlisle. This is much tougher, but Korker showed enough on debut to suggest he can be competitive here. Second Wind can chase the aforementioned pair home.
3.05pm Hampton Court Stakes
Following on from a solid run in the 2000 Guineas over a mile, the market support for ONE RULER in the Epsom Derby earlier this month was unmistakable and, having struggled to see out the 1m4f, he rates a most interesting contender now dropped to the intermediate distance of 1m2f for a stable that can do little wrong at present. 11th hour Derby withdrawal Mohaafeth is at the mercy of the weather once again; he would be the one to give the selection the most to think about if the ground stays dry. If the heavens open, Pythagoras’ soft ground form brings him right into proceedings; he looks the each-way play.
3.40pm Ribblesdale Stakes
There looks to have been an overreaction in the market to the below-par effort of DUBAI FOUNTAIN in the Epsom Oaks earlier this month, where she did not look comfortable at any stage on the track and rates a leading player back on a more conventional track. Her 4th placing in last year’s Fillies’ Mile arguably remains the strongest piece of form on offer, and she was very well supported for the Oaks off the back of her winning seasonal reappearance in the Cheshire Oaks. With stamina assured, strong form in the book and William Buick booked to ride, Dubai Fountain can bounce right back here.
4.20pm Gold Cup
Verdict: This race is all about superstar stayer STRADIVARIUS as he goes in search of history, bidding for a record-equalling 4th Gold Cup. His performance in last year’s renewal was eyewatering and, having made a victorious seasonal reappearance in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes last month, he looks primed to peak on the biggest stage once again. If a lot of rain falls at Ascot, Trueshan looks highly likely to provide the sternest opposition: he made a pleasing return this season in the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes, a race that was very much designed as a warm-up for this. Santiago completes the shortlist.
Nayef Road: Runner-up in this race last year but has well and truly bombed out on his two starts coming into this. Good horse on his day but has plenty to prove.
Rip Van Lips: German raider who won a Group 2 at his last start. This is far and away his toughest task to date and he looks to have too much to find in this context.
Spanish Mission: Admirable stayer who comes into this in excellent form, having won last month’s Yorkshire Cup. Soft ground is a small worry; looks a place chance at best.
Stradivarius: Domineering winner of his 3rd Ascot Gold Cup last year. Goes in search of an historic 4th with a fresh bunch of rivals to take him on. Loveable stayer; the one they all have to beat.
Trueshan: Looked a potential Gold Cup candidate when romping away with the QIPCO Long Distance Cup last year. The more rain, the merrier; serious candidate if ground goes soft.
Twilight Payment: 2020 Melbourne Cup winner, below-par in two starts this term. Needs to prove himself over this far, but consistent sort who cannot be dismissed.
Amhran Na Bhfiann: Last year’s Epsom Derby 3rd who has not come anywhere near that form since. Blinkers first-time here; he can play his part, but it is unlikely to be in the finish.
Ben Lilly: Has come a long way from a mark of OR53 less than a year ago, winning 7 races in the process. Still has far too much to do here and looks to be making up the numbers.
Emperor Of The Sun: Thrust himself into Gold Cup contention with a strong-staying win in the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown. This much harder but respected to a degree.
Santiago: Last year’s winner of the Queen’s Vase & Irish Derby. Two runs this term sure to set him for a peak run here, but is he good enough? Has some work to do in the formbook.
Serpentine: Wide-margin Epsom Derby winner who is yet to place in 3 subsequent starts. The fact that he is Ryan Moore’s choice is fascinating, but in truth he has quite a lot to prove at this level.
Subjectivist: Winner of the 2020 Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak on heavy ground, reappeared this year with a wide-margin win in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan. Not seen since; interesting contender.
Princess Zoe: Took the 2m4f Group 1 Prix du Cadran, relishing the heavy ground on that day. Not been in same form since and very much has work to do with many of her rivals.
5.00pm Britannia Stakes
AIR TO AIR (NB) and Jamie Spencer were a match made in heaven at Doncaster last time, cutting through their rivals from the rear to score by a comfortable 2 length margin, relishing the galloping nature of Doncaster’s straight mile. More of the same can be expected this afternoon, with Ascot’s stiff straight mile sure to play beautifully into both horse and rider’s hands, especially with the prospect of plenty of pace around them on the far side; they can continue a fantastic season for trainer George Boughey with a big run here. Laelaps is an improving sort who should cope with any rainfall; he can reward each-way support.
5.35pm King George V Stakes
A wide draw should prove little hindrance for PARACHUTE, who has made relentless progress in 5 career starts, with his only previous try on soft ground coming in novice company when runner-up to subsequent Group 2 scorer Hurricane Lane. A 4lb rise for his victory at Newmarket last month is highly unlikely to halt his progress, and he can give a very good account of himself here. In a race brimming with improving stayers, Lord Protector and Nagano are just two unexposed 3-year-old’s who can appreciate this step up to 1m4f and go very close for respective connections.
6.10pm Buckingham Palace Stakes
Last month’s Victoria Cup showed a sizeable bias to those that raced stand’s side, and therefore what JACK’S POINT (NAP) achieved from his track position must be commended in hindsight, shaping much better than his finishing position would imply to finish mid-division. Kept fresh for this, he rates a lively chance to better his 2nd placing in last year’s Buckingham Palace for his new trainer Tom Clover, having switched stables over the winter. Lord Campari takes a major step down in grade, having last been seen contesting the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes last month. Back in calmer waters, and dropped to 7 furlongs, he too can go very close here.
2.30 Instinctive Move
3.40 Ad Infinitum NAP
5.00 George Peabody
Marlborough nap: Ad Infinitum 3.40 Ascot