Stradivarius takes aim at further Gold Cup glory on Thursday, here we provide a betting preview for Royal Ascot day three with a look at all the big races.
Last year's Epsom Derby favourite Sir Dragonet heads the market alongside Andrew Balding’s Fox Tal. The former looked like another superstar in waiting for Aidan O’Brien but has struggled to make an impact since that day on the Downs and ready preference would be for Balding’s charge who put in a valiant effort in last year’s Champion Stakes.
Of those at bigger prices, Dubai Warrior has failed to transfer his all-weather success to the turf but this is his first run at Ascot where form on the sand generally holds up much better and, if he puts his best foot forward, would hold a good chance.
King Leonidas has carried all before him in his two runs to date and could well make a mockery of this field, but the Jersey has generally gone to those with more experience and there are some interesting candidates should the favourite falter.
The chief threat looks to be Celestin, who finished an admirable fourth in the French 2000 Guineas and won’t mind if the ground deteriorates, nor the drop in trip. Roger Varian’s Molatham is also an interesting contender given he managed to get his head in front against Guineas runner-up Wichita but he may find this a tough assignment first time up.
At a massive price, Ventura Lightning could go well stepped up in distance for last year’s winning trainer Richard Fahey. He was staying on well in the Rockingham and while this is a big step up in class, it would be no surprise to see him run into a place.
Stradivarius is obviously a short price here to accomplish an incredible feat in winning his third Gold Cup in a row, and competition looks fairly thin on the ground. Any further forecast rain however could bring Technician forward as a threat - his win in the Prix Royal Oak at the end of last year was impressive and makes him a likely candidate for the forecast.
Mark Johnston’s Nayef Road can fill the places having run out a ready winner of the Sagaro Stakes earlier this month. He looks a stayer going places.
Even with a reduced field this remains a fiendishly difficult puzzle to solve. Of those at the top of the market, the eye is certainly drawn to Verboten for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori, who was sent off at a single figure price for last year’s Vertem Futurity and has landed a good draw in stall 18.
Enemy finished behind Mister Snowdon at Yarmouth last time so it will be interesting to see how the latter gets on in the Jersey earlier on the card. At bigger prices, Dubai Mirage is interesting for Godolphin - turned out quickly after easily winning at Kempton last time but stall 3 is somewhat off-putting.
Archie Watson saddles Shared Belief and Harrison Point who were both thought good enough to compete at Listed class. The former would appreciate softer conditions but Harrison Point is unexposed on turf and makes each-way appeal at a big price with a run under his belt in France and a plum draw in 27.