The main dish is served on Thursday afternoon as the mighty Stradivarius bids to complete a hat-trick of wins in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Can any of the other promising four-year-olds lining up upset the dominant force?
Our tipster has been through all seven races on Thursday’s card.
1.15 Golden Gates Handicap (1m2f)
The Richard Hughes-trained
8/1* chance MAORI KNIGHT did everything bar win on his handicap debut at Haydock recently and will have learned a great deal from that experience of tackling this trip for the first time. He looks to have something in hand racing from the same mark now on just his fifth start and should find these conditions ideal here under David Egan.
9/1) found a Newmarket Group 2 too strong on his final start last year, but that was a deep field and there’s every chance Alan King’s charge gets involved today, with champion jockey Oisin Murphy back on board on first run for new owners.
1.50 Wolferton Stakes (1m2f)
Four-year-olds do especially well in the Wolferton, both in its former guise as a handicap and now as a Listed race. John Gosden bids for a fifth win in nine years and has two leading players in DUBAI WARRIOR and Crossed Baton.
The latter is ridden by Frankie Dettori but Lingfield’s Winter Derby hero appeals more at
9/1 with Rab Havlin on board. He’s conceding weight to the field, but he was impressive last time on the Polytrack and may have plenty of scope for better back on turf.
The likeliest winner is FOX TAL for Andrew Balding and Silvestre De Sousa. He thrived upped to this trip when scoring at Doncaster during the St Leger Festival and then posted an excellent fourth in the Champion Stakes over this C&D behind Magical. He’s a very worthy favourite at
11/4 on his return to action for the Guineas-winning trainer.
2.25 Jersey Stakes (7f)
King Leonidas will be popular here having conceded 7lb and given a sound beating to a useful rival recently at Newmarket. His claims are straightforward.
MONARCH OF EGYPT pushed Siskin all the way in their clashes last season and that now looks strong form after Ger Lyons’ charge won the Irish 2,000 Guineas in push-button style. One of an army from Ballydoyle in that contest, this American Pharoah colt had no luck in running and ran on eye-catchingly late in the day. The drop in trip should suit and he’s a cracking chance at
Having outrun a three-figure price in the 1,000 Guineas, don’t discount a big run from the filly FINAL SONG here for Godolphin, with a return to 7f also in her favour.
3.00 Chesham Stakes (7f)
Four of the nine-runner field in the Chesham won on their recent debuts and this looks a decent renewal. Interestingly, one that didn’t win was Ballydoyle representative Battleground and much better can probably be expected from him today.
MODERN NEWS took out an expensive fellow Godolphin-owned stablemate on his debut at Newbury recently and the Shamardal colt is likely to raise his game again for the bang in-form Charlie Appleby yard now. He’s a major player and heads the betting at
Frankie Dettori rides GOLDEN FLAME for Mark Johnston and the
11/2 chance can have a big say. He cut out the running on debut at Haydock before engaging in a proper battle with Devious Company and just losing out. The experience will stand to him now and, coming from Johnston’s team, a stiff 7f and a battle will be factors he relishes.
3.35 Gold Cup (2m4f)
John Gosden and Frankie Dettori will be excited at the prospect of STRADIVARIUS winning a third Gold Cup and he’s the strong
8/15 favourite to become only the third horse to manage the feat.
He enjoyed a perfect prep in the Coronation Cup over an inadequate 1m4f recently but will be firmly back in his own ball-park now. He’s unbeaten over 2m+, with five wins from five, and likely will break the will of his rivals in the closing stages.
Four-year-olds have won six of the last eight Gold Cups, so don’t discount the coming generation. NAYEF ROAD was a smart sort last year, winning the Gordon Stakes and placing in the St Leger; he improved again to win the re-routed Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle (2m½f) recently and at
14/1 offers some value tackling this extra yardage.
4.10 Britannia Stakes (1m)
This comes around quickly enough for him but JOHAN was most impressive at Newbury six days ago. He was very strong at the finish and is 3 from 5 overall. Pleasingly, he was able to settle in rear there, having previously raced prominently, and that will be a big plus-factor today. He’s up 5lb but surely remains capable of better and looks fair value at
Clive Cox’s DANCE FEVER is unbeaten and looked a useful prospect when taking a Kempton nursery in December. His time on the clock was very good and this speedy sort should have the gears to be a player now tackling the mile. He’s solid as an each-way player at
4.40 Sandringham Stakes (1m)
A race that is set to revolve around John Gosden’s AFRICAN DREAM after she pushed a smart rival all the way at Newbury last week. She was conceding 7lb there and, on official figures, she looks to have been let in lightly for this handicap bow as such. Backing her at
15/8 is clearly a risk, however.
There are plenty dangers, with Huboor, Soffika and Declared Interest prominent amongst them, but one lurking under the radar might be ALABAM WHITMAN at
22/1 for trainer Richard Spencer.
Fourth here in the Albany last year, she contested Group 2/3 races in France and at Newmarket after opening her account at Carlisle in July and may improve again this year in handicaps. She has Oisin Murphy for assistance here.
*All odds correct at time of writing