PUNTERS GUIDE TO ROYAL ASCOT – DAY THREE
2.30 NORFOLK STAKES – Only 9 runners ( possibly 8 with Tuesday runner Mind Of Madness considered doubtful ) but still looks a strong renewal headed by the Aidan O’Brien-trained THE GREAT WAR who was a strong ante-post favourite for Tuesday’s Coventry before being switched here. The War Front colt has won both his starts with his head in his chest and could turn out to be one of the stable’s better juveniles but at a best price of 5-4 could be worth taking on. BAITHA ALGA ran out a clear winner of Epsom’s Woodcote Stakes on Derby day and is sure to expose any weaknesses in the favourite but it is the Mark Johnston horse MUKHMAL who has caught the eye this season. The son of Bahamian Bounty gave 5lb and a beating to hot favourite Cheerio Sweetie on his debut at Musselburgh and followed that up by winning Chester’s Lily Agnes Stakes, making all and giving up to a stone to his 8 rivals on a course that looked unlikely to suit.
ADVICE – MUKHMAL 1 POINT EACH-WAY – 6-1 BET365
3.05 TERCENTENARY STAKES – Another 9-runner contest in which most can be given a chance, the exception being Tom Queally’s mount STORMARDAL. BARLEY MOW, MUTAKAYYEF, POSTPONED and CLOUDSCAPE all met in the Listed Newmarket Stakes in which the Richard Hannon colt just edged out Paul Hanagan’s mount and it should be close between the two once again. CANNOCK CHASE is stepping up in class after winning a Newbury handicap and could easily develop into a Group performer while OBLITERATOR will find this easier than when last behind Kingman in the Irish 2000 Guineas. Unless Richard Hughes decides to make the running aboard BARLEY MOW it is possible that Royal Lodge runner-up SOMEWHAT could be allowed a soft lead and the Mark Johnston-trained colt would be the value if allowed to dictate affairs as he is surely better than his two runs this season.
ADVICE – SOMEWHAT 1 POINT EACH-WAY – 14-1 PADDY POWER
3.45 RIBBLESDALE STAKES – An international affair with runners from France and Italy. The Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained VAZIRA has the strongest form on offer after finishing second to the well-regarded We Are in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp although Peter Chapple-Hyam’s INCHILA would probably have finished runner-up in the Investec Oaks behind Taghrooda with a clear run and could challenge the French filly for favouritism. It is hard to evaluate the form of the unbeaten Italian raider FINAL SCORE and the daughter of Dylan Thomas should not be underestimated despite having to concede 3lb to the opposition. In what looks a very open contest it could pay to take a chance with the John Gosden-trained second-string CRITERIA ( also responsible for BRIGHT APPROACH ) who was soundly beaten by INCHILA on her seasonal reappearance but has impoved for that run since and with more to come should run well at a decent price.
ADVICE – 1 POINT EACH-WAY CRITERIA – 18-1 CORAL
4.25 GOLD CUP – The betting is dominated by last year’s St Leger winner LEADING LIGHT whose only defeat as a 3-year-old came when twelfth behind Treve in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. Won the Queen’s Vase over two miles 12 month’s ago so stamina unlikely to be an issue but at a best price 11-8 makes little appeal as a betting prospect. TAC DE BOISTRON would have been a confident choice against the Ballydoyle representative granted soft ground but that eventuality is highly unlikely given the settled weather forecast. It will take a fantastic training performance from Sir Michael Stoute to win back to back Gold Cup’s with the Queen’s ESTIMATE who has not seen a racecourse since finishing seventh behind fellow rival ROYAL DIAMOND on Champions Day last October. BROWN PANTHER looks the chief threat to Joseph O’Brien’s mount after winning last year’s Goodwood Cup and most recently the Henry 11 Stakes at Sandown but it could be worth chancing ALTANO taking the cup back to his native Germany. This Galileo gelding got going far too late when fifth in last year’s race and again when third in the Goodwood Cup. If this thorough stayer can be ridden more prominently on this occasion he will be finishing better than anything at the business end of the race.
ADVICE – 1 POINT EACH-WAY ALTANO – 12 – 1 BETWAY
5.00 – BRITTANIA STAKES – An impossible-looking one mile handicap in which just none of the 30 runners can be completely ruled out but northern trainer Mark Johnston will saddle multiple entries and it would be no surprise to see CROWDMANIA, choice of Joe Fanning to go close at a big price. This son of Shamardal proved frustrating as a juvenile but since being gelded has started to show some decent form, winning three times on the all-weather earlier this year but it is his most recent victory which puts him in with every chance off a lenient mark of 88. Sent off a 7-1 chance in a Beverley Conditions Stakes race dominated in the betting by a highly-regarded southern raider in Basem from the powerful Godolphin stable of Saeed Bin Suror the 4-9 favourite could never get to grips with Crowdmania who made all for a comfortable victory. This front runner is drawn 28 of 30 and may well grab the nearside rail and could take some catching off his light weight.
ADVICE – 1 POINT EACH-WAY CROWDMANIA – 28-1 CORAL
5.35 KING GEORGE V STAKES – Not as many runners as the previous heat ( 19 ) but competitive all the same. WINDSHEAR, WRANGLER, ARAB DAWN and CAPTAIN MORLEY are all improving colts who look sure to play a hand in this 1m 4f contest but the vote goes to the Godolphin runner ELITE ARMY. The winner of a Kempton maiden at two the son of Authorized was fancied to take a Sandown handicap on his seasonal reappearance but found the concession of 6lb to Windshear too much but is taken to overturn the form on 7lb better terms. The mount of Kieren Fallon went on to win his next start and despite racing off a 8lb higher mark can continue his improvement by proving too good for the opposition.
ADVICE – 1 POINT EACH-WAY ELITE ARMY – 8-1 WILLIAM HILL