Royal Ascot’s third day gets under way at 2.30 with the Norfolk Stakes for two-year-olds over five furlongs. Aidan O’Brien is represented by Gale Force Ten who could step up on his workmanlike success at the Curragh. Richard Hannon is always a threat with his youngsters at this meeting and saddles both Annunciation and Mister Marc.
The Ribblesdale Stakes (3.05) has attracted a smart field of fillies, notably the second, third and fourth from the Epsom Oaks. The Fugue was nearly brought down in the early stages of that race but rallied bravely to finish an unlucky third. She will be the choice of many punters to reverse the placings with runner up Shirocco Star. The feature race on Thursday is the Ascot Gold Cup (3.45) in which O’Brien’s Fame and Glory bids to win the race for the second consecutive season. Godolphin provide two of his toughest opponents in the ultra-consistent Opinion Poll and their recent recruit Colour Vision. An even bigger threat could be his compatriot Saddler’s Rock who looked very classy last season.
The Britannia Stakes at 4.25 is one of the toughest races of the week to forecast with a maximum field of three-year-olds, many of which are pitched into a handicap for the first time. The rapidly improving Fast Or Free catches the eye at the foot of the handicap after a good win at Newmarket. Born To Surprise is another who looks likely to feature. He held classic aspirations after a fluent win in a Newmarket maiden but things did not go his way in the Craven Stakes. Michael Bell has a good record in this race and will be expecting a prominent showing.
The Tercentenary Stakes at 5.00 features the first and second from a good handicap at Epsom’s Derby meeting in Wrotham Heath and Grandeur. The winner did not really relish the undulations on the Surrey course and did well to win so it would be no surprise if he confirms the placings. A bigger threat could come from Sir Michael Stoute’s Tales of Grimm who will come on for his recent race. The day’s action finishes with another competitive heat in the King George V Stakes (5.35). Godolphin has a strong hand with three runners, the pick of which may be runaway Newmarket winner Anomaly.
William Hill have early prices on all the races at this week’s Royal Ascot meeting along with a number of special bets at the five-day festival.
Author Profile: Harvey Mayson+