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Andrew Balding Betway blog: Royal Ascot Thursday runners

19 Jun | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Andrew Balding Betway blog: Royal Ascot Thursday runners

The Betway ambassador reflects on Dashing Willoughby's victory in Wednesday's Queen's Vase before previewing his Thursday runners at Royal Ascot.

It was fantastic to win the Queen’s Vase with Dashing Willoughby on Wednesday.

It had been the plan for some time and we got a bit of a fright on Saturday morning when he was lame and had a blood blister. The team worked really hard through the night to get it right and happily he was fine 12 hours later.

He’s a really strong stayer and loves soft ground, so all the rain we’ve had this week has been perfect for him.

I’m not sure where we’ll go next, but we could look at the St Leger as a possible target in September. We’ll enjoy this and then sit down with the owners to discuss where we go next.

On to day three where the highlight is always the Gold Cup. We don’t have a runner but it looks a great race, as it should be.


First up is the Norfolk Stakes where Sunday Sovereign is the one they all have to beat.

King Power bought him recently after he comfortably saw off Arizona in a Curragh maiden in early May. That was Arizona’s first run and the form was given a boost when he won the Coventry on Tuesday.

I know Sunday Sovereign has always been very highly regarded, he looks a strong favourite in this.

You always have to respect Wesley Ward’s horses in Ascot sprints, so Maven will surely try to burn them off from the front.


We’re looking forward to running Fox Chairman in the Hampton Court, he’s one of our best chances of the week.

His Chester form got a boost on Tuesday when Circus Maximus won the St James’s Palace. I felt he was a bit unlucky that day, he got trapped behind runners coming round the home bend and then didn’t have a clear run.

He’s been a very pleasant surprise in all honesty as he doesn’t show that much at home. That said, he looks absolutely great and has been working very solidly.

Both his starts have been hugely promising and I think 1m2f on slow ground is what he wants. He’s got a nice draw, is going there in good shape and we’re hopeful he’ll be there or thereabouts.

But it’s obviously a very good race. Aidan O’Brien’s horse won the Derby Trial at Epsom and then ran well in the French Derby.

Headman won the London Gold Cup and Roger Charlton pulled off the same double with Time Test, so he is another that has to be respected.

Sangarius was a very good two-year-old with Group form and looks like he will stay a bit further, while both Roseman and King Ottokar have some strong form. As always, it’s going to be a very good race.


I hope Queen Power  will have every chance in the Ribblesdale for King Power, she won very well at Newbury last time.

I remember seeing her as a yearling and always thought she was a lovely looking filly. She is improving quickly and the fact Sir Michael Stoute rates her so highly is an endorsement in itself.

Fleeting is the obvious danger after her third in the Oaks, although there has been a bit of a patchy record with Oaks fillies following up in this and Derby colts in the King Edward VII.

There’s a longer gap between the two than normal, though, so that might make things easier, but I’m in the Queen Power camp.


The Gold Cup is always one of the highlights of the week and I’ve been really impressed with Dee Ex Bee  this year.

He was placed in last year’s Derby, which goes to show the class he has. The fact he looks as though he stays two and a half miles adds an extra element to the race.

Stradivarius is an amazing horse and I hope he wins but I think this is his toughest task to date.

Capri was a high class three-year-old and if he is back to his best he could be in the mix.

I’m sometimes a little bit sceptical about horses coming straight from Dubai to Ascot but it didn’t do Blue Point any harm in the King’s Stand on Tuesday.

Cross Counter had a fantastic season last year winning the Melbourne Cup and he adds even more spice to what looks a very good renewal of the Gold Cup.


The Britannia is a very tough race to be confident in but we’ve been pleased with Hero Hero at home.

We were all impressed with him when he won his novice at Chester last month, particularly Silvestre de Sousa. It was a good time seeing as he won on the bridle and I quite like his draw in stall 25.

He’s fairly uncomplicated, a strong galloper and happy making the running, so we hope he’ll run well.


We have two solid candidates for the King George V, both stepping up in trip.

This time last year I thought Fox Premier was the best horse we could have. He’s always worked very well at home but he was disappointing last season.

He’s done much better this season and was very good at Sandown last time. I hope he’ll handle the ground and if he does cope with it I’m sure he’s well handicapped.

Good Birthday  is very solid and reliable. He ran well from a bad draw in the London Gold Cup last month and he will enjoy the conditions. I’d say he is probably a bit overpriced.

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