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Mark Your Card: Gold Cup day at Royal Ascot

Niall has spent the morning studying the form for Day Three at Ascot. Here are his best bets from today’s card.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

THE ASCOT GOLD CUP (15:45) is the undisputed highlight on the third day of racing in Berkshire and, following the shock defeat of So You Think yesterday, Aidan O’Brien and Ballydoyle will be looking to Fame And Glory to help them back onto their feet.

The five-year-old son of Montjeu has been one of the standout performers on the flat in recent years, winning nine first class races including back-to-back victories in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and the Coronation Cup last season. Undoubtedly a classy horse, the main concern will be over his ability to stay the distance; today’s race will be run over six furlongs more than he has ever travelled, introducing an element of the unknown into the form. O’Brien has been dominant in this race in recent years with Yeats taking home the main prize four years on the bounce and Age of Aquarius finishing a game second last year.

Godolphin’s main entrant, Holberg, is fancied by many to spring a second surprise in as many days for Sheikh Mohammed. The ground and the trip will certainly be in his favour, but he will need to reverse the form with another of today’s contenders, Blue Bajan, who won the Henry II Stakes at Sandown last month, typically a good indicator of a horse’s prospects in this race.

After the favourite, however, the highest-rated horse in the field is John Gosden’s Duncan, winner of the Yorkshire Cup in his only seasonal outing to date. He is another who is untested over two-and-a-half miles, though as a son of Dalakhani, his lineage certainly suggests that stamina shouldn’t be a problem. Further down the betting order, Tastahil may be worth consideration if he can reproduce the form shown in his second place finish to Overturn in the Chester Cup.

The day’s first race is the Norfolk Stakes (14:30), a five-furlong sprint that really is wide open. At the head of the market is Everyday Dave, a two-time winner over this distance already this season. A two-year-old who clearly has pace to burn, it will be interesting to see how he handles this step up in class, as it will be for Bapak China, another speedster who has only proven himself among lesser luminaries thus far.  The most experienced horse in the field, Michael Owen’s Pyman’s Theory, is an 8/1 shot across the board and could just be good enough to hold the improvers at bay.

The other Group Two race on the card, the Ribblesdale Stakes (15:05), looks set to be an intriguing contest between Godolphin’s Rumh and Jim Bolger’s Banimpire. Banimpire’s third-place finish to Lolly For Dolly at the Curragh earlier this season was rubber-stamped by the latter’s victory in the Windsor Forest Stakes yesterday, and with her credentials over the distance proven, that factor may just give her the edge.

Nap of the day

Take Alkimos in the Tercentenary Stakes (17:00). A son of High Chaparral and a stablemate of last year’s winner Afsare, trainer Luca Cumani clearly knows how to ready a horse for this race. His win at Doncaster at the beginning of the month is an excellent indicator of his prospects and, with Kieren Fallon on board, 11/2 represents value too good to turn down.

Each Way

At 16/1 in the Ribblesdale Stakes (15:05), Aidan O’Brien’s Make My Heart Sing might be worth a small tempter. She has only run once this year, winning a Fillies’ Maiden in Cork last month, but the signs were encouraging and with a bit of improvement she could go close.

Think again: Dettori and Rewilding land Ascot upset >

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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