Thursday is Gold Cup day at Royal Ascot as the Royal meeting rolls into its third day. Last years Ascot Stakes winner Coltrane narrowly heads the betting as Andrew Balding’s star stayer seeks a third course win. Coltrane’s defeat of Trueshan in Septembers Doncaster Cup marked him out as a potential star in this division and the Gelding may yet deliver on that promise after a bloodless success in a Group 3 event here last time out.
St Leger winner Eldar Eldarov is likely to put up a much bigger fight than he did when finishing well down the field behind Coltrane in the Champions Long Distance Cup here at the end of last season. The Classic winner looked in good heart on a recent reappearance at York and should be ready for this test as a result.
Having won a Curragh Group 3 over 2 miles on heavy ground last October, Emily Dickinson could be a filly who relishes this grueling stamina test tomorrow.
Frankie Dettori has never been far from the headlines this week given it’s the Italians last Royal Ascot and he rides the unbeaten four year old Courage Mon Ami for John & Thady Gosden. The Gosden’s and Dettori will always be synonymous with this race thanks to the brilliance of three-time race winner Stradivarius.
Day three gets underway at 2.30 with the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes over 5f’s. At the time of writing, we’ve just seen our first USA trained winner with Crimson Advocate (trained by George Weaver) ensuring the Queen Mary trophy will head to North America. America hold some strong chances in this two years old contest with the Wesley Ward trained American Rascal and George Weavers No Nay Mets. Both American raiders are either by or out of Royal Ascot winners although it should be noted American Rascal is yet to race on the turf.
Nobody has trained by 2yo winners than Karl Burke in Britain this season and he has the favourite Elite Status who was ultra impressive when landing the listed National stakes at Sandown last month.
One of the weeks big handicaps is due off at 3.05 as the King George V Stakes takes place. Last years Coronation Cup winner Hukum won this race back in 2020 with plenty of this years lineup holding future big race entries. Last years race was won by the joint-fav Secret State with the winning connections of Buick and Appleby again represented by the market leader in the shape of Tagabawa who is 2/3 on the track after an impressive handicap debut win at Kempton last time out (form since boosted).
We could see a potential superstar in action at 3.40 with the unbeaten Shadwell filly Al Asifah odds-on favourite for the Group 2 Ribblesdale. The daughter of Frankel never came off the bridle when blowing away a decent looking field is a listed race at Goodwood last time on what was only her second start. Simply put, she could be anything for John & Thady Gosden.
30 runners will go to post for the days big betting race the Britannia Stakes at 5.00. The last 5 winners of the race have been drawn in 10 or above which may dampen the enthusiasm of those getting ready to side with the favourite Quantum Impact (6) who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori for Ralph Beckett.
Docklands (18) was handed a 14lb rise by the handicapper after bolting up in a C&D handicap last month but with the Irish 2,000 Guineas having previously been on the agenda according to connections this 3 year old could be good enough to defy such a hike in the weights under Hayley Turner for Harry Eustace.
Meanwhile, any horse who completes a four-timer can not be overlooked with Racingbreaks Ryder holding winning Ascot form and is drawn in 22 under crack Aussie jockey James McDonald for trainer Charles Hills.
The Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes is the penultimate race on Thursday with owner George Strawbridge and the Gosden’s represented by the joint-favourites Epictetus and Torito. Frankie rides Group 1 Vertem Futurity runner-up from last season Epictetus while top apprentice Beniot De La Sayette rides the half-brother of Group 1 winner Journey.
Aidan O’Brien last won this race in 2020 with Russian Emperor, who is now trained in Hong Kong and recently won a Group 1 at Sha-tin, with the master of Ballydoyle relying on Drumroll here. Drumroll was runner-up to Paddington at the Curragh in Listed company this season before scooping a Group 3 prize next time out. The colt must carry a 4lb penalty as a result but is likely to be popular for obvious reasons.
Day three of Royal Ascot concludes with another wide-open big field handicap with the Buckingham Palace Stakes due off at 6.10. Tuesday’s Kings Stand runner-up Highfield Princess is among the recent winners of this contest.