ROYAL ASCOT Day 3
***Weather note – rain is expected tonight and this is factored into selections here.***
1.15 Golden Gates
Prediction: 1 – Maori Knight 2 – Acquitted 3 – Cepheus 4- Tritonic
Maori Knight is the form horse and starting point for me here – proven over the trip and won’t mind a little ease in the ground and has improved with every run – something I like and look for in these handicaps.
Acquitted is a horse to follow through the season but I would rather him over 8f than 10f but ultimately I think he could be the best of these and his quality can see him through most of the race.
Cepheus ran in the 2000 Guineas and is getting plenty of class relief here while stepping up in trip – he is a fine prospect and will enjoy this easier test.
Tritonic disappointed on his last run as a 2yo but I like the breeding here to make a fine 3yo and same trainer as Coeur De Lion – the vibes are quite good for this one.
Prediction: 1 – Mountain Angel (BEST BET) 2 – Sir Dragonet 3 – Extra Elusive
This is a very strong listed race and last year was won by Addeybb who came 2nd in the Prince Of Wales.
The more I looked at this race, the more I liked Mountain Angel. 5th in this last year against proper G1 horses, he then improved and was very competitive in group races on likely softer going. He goes very well fresh and as you saw from Roger Varian winning the last yesterday with Fujaira Prince, he is good at conditioning them off a layoff. He will be a price but I like him as my best bet.
The top 3 in the market are very strong but if I was to take one, it would be Sir Dragonet, he is super dodgy and not one to rely on but back over soft ground with a run under his belt, we may see a return to his electrifying performances at the start of last year.
I will also take Extra Elusive who had a progressive profile last year and I can easily forgive him his last run on the all weather. We get double the price as a result.
Prediction 1 – Celestin 2 – King Leonidas 3 – Ropey Guest
We get glimpses of classic form here but the class of the race comes in the form of novice stakes winner King Leonidas. He was very good 11 days ago and while the drop back to 7f might not suit, he seems to be the horse to beat.
I will though make Celestin my top pick – he brings French classic form and if it is soft, the ground and trip will be perfect – the addition of cheekpieces a big positive to eek out some more improvement.
Ropey Guest is a wildcard here – still a maiden but work is reported to be very good and he has sound efforts at big prices in Group company last year including at Ascot and on all kinds of ground. A must use in exactas and trifectas.
Prediction 1 – First Prophet 2 – Bright Devil
A tricky race like all the 2yo ones to assess. I will go against the top connections here at short prices.
On top, I like First Prophet who won over 7f last week, looked extremely green but connections say he took the race very well and is back today – he is the horse to beat for me over the trip.
Bright Devil looked very professional first time up over 6f and has subsequently been bought by Team Valor. He has also had the longest time to recover from his first race than the others.
Interesting horse to note is Battleground, the first offspring by Found, the Arc and Breeders Cup Turf heroine. By War Front, he was very green on debut coming 5th and while he will love the step up in trip, he may not like the soft ground. He will not go missing in the market and is a play against for me.
3.35 Gold Cup
Prediction 1- Mekong (BEST LONGSHOT) 2 – Technician 3 – Stradivarius
All eyes will be on Stradivarius to see if he can make it 3 Gold Cups in a row. I would be a bit worried about a) a hard race less than 2 weeks ago against serious G1 company where there was no hiding place (race was run in record time) and b) the potential soft ground. I will try to find 2 horses to beat him.
First is Mekong, he is the longest shot on the board but his run style should really suit this race and I think he will get an exaggerated hold up ride from man-of-the-moment Jim Crowley. If Withhold and / or Nayef Road go off very fast, it will play into this guy’s hand. I also think that he will be ridden to be placed which will help.
Mekong can win if the race dynamics upset Stradivarius – the only potential class upset of him would come in the shape of up and comer Technician. The trip is an unknown but he appears to thrive on soft ground and if the rain comes, the money is likely to come here too.
Prediction 1 – Great Ambassador 2 – Starcat 3 – Dance Fever 4 – Grove Ferry
An impossible race to fully get your head around and my handicapping on these races have been poor to non-existent so far this week. Time for a change.
Finest Sound is a worthy favourite after a very impressive performance 10 days ago and is 7 pounds well in. However, 2nd time after wind ops isn’t an angle I like to bet on especially at such cramped odds so I will avoid.
Great Ambassador – gelded first time, should make a better 3yo and his last run as a juvenile, he started getting the hang of things. He can run very well.
Starcat, like Cepheus in the first race takes a marked drop in class from 2000 Guineas. This colt didn’t run too badly and was away from the golden highway on the rail.
Grove Ferry – another steady improver who won’t mind the ground, trip and is drawn by the stands side.
Dance Fever – he is 3/3 so still untapped potential
Prediction 1- Declared Interest 2 – African Dream 3 – Odyssey Girl
African Dream looks to be a certainty on the ratings as she is now rated 16 pounds higher. The only thing stopping her would appear to be any potential bounce after such a big top. We will keep her on side but think there are legitimate threats and they will be a price due to the favourites contracted odds.
To win, I like Declared Interest – she won well at Chelmsford just 9 days ago but didn’t have the hardest of races. Soft ground is an unknown (some Declaration of Wars do go on it) but I will be happy to be with her and in combinations with the heavy favourite.
Odyssey Girl is a spot play with a confident trainer and first time cheekpieces. She has improved with every run of her life and if she can improve a few more pounds as per her progression to date, she will outrun her odds and I think she can be placed.