The Ascot Gold Cup is the highlight on Day 3 of the royal meeting with Stradivarius bidding to retain his crown from last season. He faces strong opposition from a former St Leger winner and an Epsom Derby second placed colt, and that race is analysed alongside the five other contests on a competitive card.
This 5f Group 2 race for 2-year-olds has attracted the attention of American trainer Wesley Ward who will probably saddle Maven after the colt was a comfortable winner of his only start on the Aqueduct dirt. It is said that he has subsequently adjusted well to turf.
Irish raider Sunday Sovereign is another horse to note for this race having won by seven lengths at Tipperary last time although it is difficult to evaluate the strength of that form.
Of more appeal may be the Godolphin horse Expressionist who is already a course and distance winner and who won his only start more convincingly than the narrow margin suggests.
Betting Tip – Expressionist to win (12/1 with William Hill)
Both Aidan and Joseph O’Brien have earmarked horses for this Group 3 1m 2f contest for 3-year-olds, with the former trainer expected to saddle Cape Of Good Hope. The colt won a listed race at Epsom over this distance before producing a decent effort when finishing fourth in the French Prix Du Jockey Club.
Buckhurst will represent Joseph but has failed to build to upon a narrow winning debut at Leopardstown during early April and there are suggestions that he may need further than 1m2f.
The Irish trainers may have most to fear from the Michael Stoute trained Sangarius who was third on his seasonal debut at Sandown but offered the impression that this distance will be more suitable. He also meets another contender Roseman on 3lb better terms for a one-length defeat.
Betting Tip – Sangarius to Win (8/1 with Paddy Power)
Staged over 1m4f for 3-year-old fillies, this Group 2 event should suit the Michael Stoute trained Queen Power who appeared to need further than ten furlongs when narrowly winning a Newbury Listed event last month. This race represents a much tougher assignment.
She will probably be opposed by Frankellina who may not have produced her true running when sixth in the Epsom Oaks, but the third-placed filly in that contest could be a better option. Aidan O’Brien’s Fleeting was finishing strongly in the classic after a disappointing effort in the 1,000 Guineas and has been supplemented for this race.
Betting Tip – Fleeting to Win (13/8 with Ladbrokes)
The big question for this 2m4f race is can any horse topple reigning champion Stradivarius who rarely wins by a wide margin but who has won all four races since his victory last June, including a fairly comfortable Yorkshire Cup victory last month.
Aidan O’Brien will hope to lower the colours of Stradivarius with Capri set to run for the Irish trainer. The 5-year-old won the St Leger in 2017 but has claimed victory just once since that triumph and he has yet to race beyond the 1m 6f+ Leger distance. O’Brien also saddles Flag Of Honour who was beaten by Stradivarius at the end of last season and was receiving a weight-for-age allowance.
It could also be that 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter emerges as a serious contender after his subsequent success over two miles at Meydan during March, while the claims of Dee Ex Bee should not be ignored. Second behind Masar in the 2018 Epsom Derby, this consistent colt has both races this term over two miles at Group 3 level and appears to have thrived running over this extra distance.
Betting Tip – Stradivarius to Win (7/1 with Paddy Power – SIGN-UP OFFER)
Another multi-runner handicap staged over one mile with 3-year-olds contesting this prize and Davydenko appeals as good each-way value. He has won both Class 5 events very easily this term and deserves his chance at this much higher level. Set to carry just 8st 6lb, he is worth noting for trainer Michael Stoute.
Betting Tip – Davydenko EW (14/1 with Paddy Power)
Constantinople from the Aidan O’Brien stable heads the weights for this Class 2 Im4f handicap for 3-year-olds, and this Galileo colt won a Group 3 event at the Curragh last month. His trainer is hopeful of another decent performance but suggests he may be a better horse next season.
Lower down the weights, Sir Ron Priestley has won both races this term at short odds, and trainer Mark Johnston ran him at Haydock last month primarily to increase his rating for Ascot qualification. He is a lightly-raced improving horse with Johnston winning this race last year.
Betting Tip – Sir Ron Priestley to Win (13/2 with bet365)
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