Thursday 22 June 2023

Royal Ascot Day Three: Thursday 22nd June 2023 - Eldar Eldarov To Be the Ultimate Gold Cup Champion

It’s Ladies Day on Thursday at Royal Ascot, at least in a colloquial sense. More officially it’s Gold Cup Day on day three of the meeting and what a belter of an afternoon it promises to be.

We have selections in all seven races once again, beginning with the flying two-year-olds in the Norfolk.

2.30 Ascot (Norfolk Stakes – Group 2) – AMERICAN RASCAL

A potentially lightning quick Norfolk Stakes to start us off.

Elite Status was outstanding on his second run for Karl Burke four weeks ago at Sandown and he’s unbeaten in two. He is also my second choice here. It’s too hard to ignore the speed of American Rascal however who is the selection.

Wesley Ward may be controversial for some, but he has 12 Royal Ascot winners for a reason and he’s certainly due another one. This horse was blistering over 4½ furlongs at Keeneland in April and he may be just too hard to catch.

Noche Magnica is worth watching, while it’s competitive in behind between the likes of No Nay Mets, His Majesty, Devious and Mon Na Slieve.

3.05 Ascot (King George V Stakes – Heritage Handicap) – BURGLAR

It could be a very good day in the handicaps for John & Thady Gosden. They train both Inquiring Minds and Burglar for Anthony Oppenheimer, the latter being fancied off a mark of 92 having once been entered in the Derby.

Charlie Appleby’s Tagabawa could be well in if handling the turf, Perfuse is a real improver and Bertinelli won the London Gold Cup (see the 5.35).

3.40 Ascot (Ribblesdale Stakes – Group 2) – AL ASIFAH 

The selection here is a very short price but, in the hope that she either drifts or can be used in multiple bets, we still have to mention her.

At the risk of sounding like the archetypal armchair critic, though I very rarely castigate jockeys, no rider is more guilty of sitting still on a horse and looking like they’re pulling a cart, only to be beaten, than Jim Crowley.

On Battaash, Mohaafeth and of course Baaeed however he has been able to do that and win in style and he did it again on Al Asifah just eleven days ago when she won with such ease in a Listed race at Goodwood.

That was only her second in start, in decent company too, and it was barely a piece of work. She’s a star. Unless something goes wrong, she can take the race she was supplemented for ahead of the likes of Infinite Cosmos, Bluestocking and Village Voice who is overpriced for place punters.

4.20 Ascot (Gold Cup – Group 1) – ELDAR ELDAROV 

A peak, pre-injury 2021 Subjectivist, a Kyprios or a classic Stradivarius would have this race won.

As it stands, the top-level stayers’ division needs a new star this year and as such this race has an open look to it at first glance.

Echoes In Rain needs a big step forward, while Courage Mon Ami is one for the future but could find this a little too hot.

Yibir (Charlie Appleby) is very intriguing. Should he get back to his mile and a half peak then he may just win, but there naturally has to be a big doubt over whether or not he can over this 2½-mile trip.

Subjectivist is back now and will have been given every chance by Charlie Johnston. There is no writing him off, but it is genuinely doubtful as to whether he can get right back to his very best.

Aidan O’Brien’s pair are hard to split. Broome is rock solid and has form with Subjectivist, while Emily Dickinson could be a star but her profile suggests she’s happier on much softer ground.

Coltrane has improved so much even as a six-year-old for Andrew Balding and is right there with a chance after his Doncaster Cup win and his prep here in May. He is the biggest danger to the selection, but Eldar Eldarov is that choice and he could be the star we’re looking for.

The Queen’s Vase winner here last year, he relished an even bigger test of stamina when smoothly winning the St Leger at Doncaster in September. Giving away weight and not being 100% for his return, he ran a blinder when only narrowly beaten in the Yorkshire Cup and now we will surely see him at his very peak.

Trueshan also runs in what could be a classic.

5.00 Ascot (Britannia Stakes – Heritage Handicap) – THEORYOFEVERYTHING

The Britannia is a hugely tough race for punters, given that the width of the straight mile is covered with unexposed and improving three-year-olds.

Highbank and One Nation may outrun their odds, while Just An Hour is going the right way too. The one I like however is the Gosden horse Theoryofeverything.

Third to Isaac Shelby on his second start in the Greenham, both there and when a very strong favourite at Chester he hated the deep ground and wants a sounder surface. He’ll get that here and will get to Group level before long, making his mark of 94 look very lenient.

5.35 Ascot (Hampton Court Stakes – Group 3) – BOLD ACT 

This is the ten-furlong Group 3 race for the three-year-olds. It often throws up a mix of improving, lightly-raced types and those having come out of the Classics.

I get eight of these runners within 8lbs of each other on private ratings. We have some coming from handicaps, some from top conditions races, some comfortable at the trip and some dropping back from a mile and a half.

With all information available taken into account, Charlie Appleby’s Bold Act may just be the one. He represents the always reliable London Gold Cup form, a race in which he was only a neck second to an Aidan O’Brien horse giving him 4lbs.

Bold Act won a Kentucky Derby qualifier in the spring, but Charlie Appleby said then that he’d give his horse a trial which suggests there was an outside chance he could make a Derby over here.

Waipiro, Epictetus, Torito, Caernarfon, Canberra Legend, Exoplanet and Drumroll are all interesting for various reasons, too many in fact to fit on this page.

6.10 Ascot (Buckingham Palace Stakes – Handicap) – UNFORGOTTEN

We finish with the seven-furlong handicap in which one-time Lincoln hope Unforgotten can get the big win his talent deserves.

The Gosden horse was just learning the ropes back on turf last time and it is to be remembered that he was expected to be rated 100+ three months ago now, so his 97 underestimates where he’s at. Montassib is also dangerous.

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