Some interesting new opponents line up against Stradivarius in this Gold Cup, suggesting the chestnut is still seen as beatable in some quarters. This is hard to fathom. As he has shown repeatedly over the last two years, he is an exceptional stayer and can prove it with a second success in Royal Ascot’s feature race.
Versatile as to ground and increasingly hard to outbattle, Stradivarius (4.20) has the right men around him to make the most of his exuberant talent. He can outclass Dee Ex Bee and Cross Counter, whose globetrotting exploits, while impressive, still leave him something to prove here.
2.30 Norfolk Stakes Billy Lee had a dismal experience in the Queen Mary, when Ickworth refused to start, but hopefully Sunday Sovereign can brighten the Irishman’s week. The colt has improved in leaps and bounds and inflicted the only defeat so far in the career of Arizona, winner of the Coventry Stakes.
3.05 Hampton Court Stakes Aidan O’Brien had three beaten favourites in a row on Wednesday but Cape Of Good Hope can do something to restore punters’ faith. His plugging-on fourth in the French Derby was a bit dour but reads well in this company and, as a brother to Highland Reel, he should have plenty of improvement in him.
3.40 Ribblesdale Stakes Fleeting looks like being a short price on the strength of her running-on third in the Oaks but she was ridden to pick up the pieces that day. This will be more of a test and it is by no means clear she will thrive on it. Queen Power did well at Newbury to overhaul talented rivals who had first run off a steady pace and the well-bred filly can prove hard to beat.
5.00 Britannia Stakes In a wide open contest a case can be made for the 40-1 shot Eclipse Storm, who has suggested he may be on a handy mark for this first venture into handicap company. He ran on into a never-nearer second in a Listed contest at The Curragh last time, sparking memories of the same stable’s Son Of Rest, winner of the Ayr Gold Cup a week after being a never-nearer second in a Group One. Migration has a big chance but the betting market is well aware of his claims.
5.35 King George V Stakes O’Brien evidently feels Constantinople is leniently treated since this return to handicapping is a surprising move after the colt won the Gallinule. He has plenty more to offer and the extra quarter-mile promises to help.
Chris Cook's tips
2.30 Sunday Sovereign 3.05 Cape Of Good Hope 3.40 Queen Power (nb) 4.20 Stradivarius 5.00 Eclipse Storm (nap) 5.35 Constantinople
1.50 Hard Nut 2.20 Paddy A 2.55 Enigmatic 3.30 Lexington Empire 4.05 Kirstenbosch 4.45 Furious 5.20 Lord Lamington
2.10 Al Aakif 2.45 Dancing Rave 3.20 Battle Of Wills 3.55 Ummalnar 4.35 Earthly 5.10 Shortbackandsides 5.45 Gold Arch 6.20 Rich Cummins
5.50 Napping 6.25 Green Door 7.00 Time To Reason 7.30 Ruby Gates 8.00 Crazy Spin 8.30 Cherokee Mist 9.00 Young Merlin
6.00 Topofthecotswolds 6.35 Dawnieriver 7.10 Cillian's Well 7.40 Clever As A Fox 8.10 Follow The Bear 8.40 Sizing Tara 9.10 Blue N Yellow