Day three throws at us a mix of some up-and-coming stars in the Chesham Stakes as well as the Jersey, the proven superstar quality of Stradivarius in the Gold Cup and even some genuine top-class form in the Wolferton Stakes.
How the surface truly behaves is anyone’s guess after Ascot started the week on ‘good’ ground, changed it to ‘good to soft’ despite some quick times and then back again. Whatever, the very best horses in their division should be able to handle what is basically fair racing ground and we go in confidently with another clutch of royal bets.
1.50 Ascot (Wolferton Stakes – Listed Race) – REGAL REALITY
This is a very competitive Listed event in which, at first glance at least, there are at around 10 contenders who all appear good enough to win a race of this nature.
Considering not just ground conditions – which are sometimes exaggerated as a factor anyway – but also expected rates of improvement or regression, the one who stands out is Sir Michael Stoute’s Regal Reality of the Cheveley Park Stud.
Competitively priced for this event, this son of Intello was brought along at the usual Stoute pace to the point that last year he showed very high-class form indeed. A Group 3 winner, placed in Group 2 and Group 1 races, he is probably the class act here and should be primed for this run.
The one for money has been Andrew Balding’s Fox Tal having finished third and fourth in Group 1 races in the past, but so often horses get dragged along to keep up in such events and the fact this one is running first up having had had only three runs in 20 months doesn’t fill me with confidence.
Sir Dragonet, a former Derby favourite, is likely to be overbet on what he has achieved in recent times and if it weren’t for the 6lb penalty he carries Winter Derby winner Dubai Warrior may well have been the one to be on, but Regal Reality looks value at the weights given his class.
2.25 Ascot (Jersey Stakes – Group 3) – KING LEONIDAS
It’s an interesting Jersey Stakes, one in which we should back the potential of King Leonidas over the proven Pattern form of Molatham and Monarch Of Egypt.
In Moltham’s case he reached a good level when winning a strong Listed race last season, beating Guineas second Wichita no less, but that horse has improved immeasurably and it’s unfair to compare him to that one.
On a line through Visinari and Berlin Tango who were both close up he’d probably look like a 110 horse give or take, which is decent but doesn’t make him a shoo-in for a Jersey.
Monarch Of Egypt for Aidan O’Brien is rated 111 based on a runner-up effort to Irish 2000 Guineas champ Siskin as a juvenile, but in three runs since he hasn’t got back to that level despite being highly tried. French raider Celestin is possibly also overrated unless he finds improvement at this trip.
King Leonidas, one of a bunch of supremely talented runners sent to John Gosden by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed last season, won at Newmarket in comfortable fashion last time but a combination of going down in trip, coming on for the run and his obvious quality could just send him to a level above his main rivals here under Frankie Dettori.
3.00 Ascot (Chesham Stakes – Listed Race) – MODERN NEWS
This is the race taken by Pinatubo last year in great fashion, and it could be won by the same connections of Godolphin, Charlie Appleby and William Buick once more as their Modern News seems best placed at this stage among this particular bunch.
His rivals include Battleground, only fifth on debut (second string) for Aidan O’Brien, and while he will improve it will take a very big leap to call him a Listed horse just yet although it of course remains possible given where he comes from.
Mark Johnston’s Golden Flame was good on debut but that was in defeat and his horses are usually pretty wound up first time leading to the potential for less improvement on a second run, while Bright Devil of Andrew Balding’s looks just one level below the required rate on what scant evidence we have to date.
Modern News however, up against a stablemate costing a few million pounds among others, showed the best speed figures of anything in this line-up to win on debut at Newmarket, flying by to win in good style and on breeding he will relish this extra furlong.
3.35 Ascot (Gold Cup – Group 1) – STRADIVARIUS
could wish to do all week, but he deserves a mention here for a couple of reasons.
First of all, he is sheer class within his particular division and we can’t let the race go by without writing about it, but also there may yet be a betting opportunity.
Just as Battaash has nothing to lay up with him in the sprinting ranks, Stradivarius is the undisputed king of the stayers’ division and unless he’s had a hard season and is on very soft ground it is unlikely something will go wrong.
So, whether like Battaash in the King’s Stand he drifts up towards even-money and becomes backable, or whether you throw him in with a handicap gimme like African Angel for example thus making him part of a win double, he can still be used in wagers which can make this race worth watching even more.
He is a true marvel and it’s hoped he lands an incredible third Gold Cup under Frankie Dettori, with his main rivals this time for info being Technician who may improve, and Godolphin’s Cross Counter.