The racing broadcaster has four selections for Royal Ascot on Thursday, including his pick for the Gold Cup and an outsider in the lucky last.
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Day three and the large fields continue apace at Royal Ascot.
The Gold Cup (16:20) holds centre stage with a competitive but non-vintage renewal on paper. Personally, I am already behind here having backed Haskoy ante-post but she has been retired to the paddocks after suffering an injury last week.
A repeat victory for Subjectivist would be a great story – and it is a weaker renewal than his victory two years ago – but I am struggling to rate his Dubai form highly enough to convince me that he is back to that level yet.
ELDAR ELDAROV has seen his St Leger win work out well with Haskoy among those to frank it. He was weak in the market for his reappearance in the Yorkshire Cup but shaped as if this greater test of stamina will suit and still had Broome and Siskany, representing the Dubai form, behind him. He also has a Royal Ascot win on his CV having just got up to win last season’s Queen’s Vase.
My first two-year-old selection of the week comes in the opening Norfolk Stakes (14:30) in the shape of NOCHE MAGICA .
From a commentating perspective, the two-year-old races, with their large number of little-known horses, represent the biggest challenge. As a result, I have found in recent years that the best way to get the colours to sit comfortably is to trawl through videos of their runs. While doing this for Givemethebeatboys – who ran well in the Coventry on Tuesday – I was impressed by Noche Magica, who travelled better than him that day but seemed to not quite see out the 6f trip.
I wasn’t quite as convinced about the hype surrounding Elite Status and, although I very much respect Karl Burke’s record with juveniles at the Royal meeting, he does help make the market for Noche Magica. The yard have won with three of their last five runners and have an excellent record in Pattern races with an actual/expected ratio of 1.14.
OTHER ASCOT SELECTIONS
The London Gold Cup often turns out to be a decent form race. All six to have run from it so far have been well beaten, but they are largely those who finished down the field.
Bay Bridge is a past winner of that race and BERTINELLI , who scored this year with a strong late run, looks highly likely to be suited by 1m 4f trip in the King George V Stakes (15:05). He is a fine-looking horse so carrying weight should not be an issue and the wide draw at this trip is historically not the disadvantage that logic would suggest.
The finale (18:10) could see REDARNA go off at a big price for the underrated Diane Sayer yard. Neil Callan first got aboard the horse in the Shergar Cup and it is interesting that he has chosen to keep the partnership after a run at York where cut in the ground was against him.
He has just sneaked into the bottom of the weights and has a victory over course and distance in the now-defunct Lady Amateur Riders race at the King George meeting. He will be committed to the far side from his gate but, at the time of writing, is the outsider of the whole field and is worth a bet each-way.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
TANGO ARUMBA looks to have been found a good opening by David Pipe (18:00, Uttoxeter). He failed to last home last time out over a longer trip at the same track, but it was his first run back after wind surgery and the race has already thrown up a subsequent winner in Astroman. With less of an emphasis on stamina and in a weaker-looking race, he is worthy of support.
Finally, when I was first getting interested in racing, Sir Mark Prescott was an absolute master of knowing his way around the programme book, which was far more varied than it is today. A personal favourite was prolific winner Misty Halo who won over 20 races but none for over £1,500 as, had she done, it would have made her ineligible for those races in the future. She would be sent to the Isle Of Man in the days when it had a racecourse, exploiting every nook and cranny that Sir Mark could find.
My interest has therefore been piqued by WHATAWIT . He is dual bumper winner including in a complete non-event and has now been sent over to Leopardstown for a Flat Maiden (20:20) with Harry Swan (Charlie’s son) booked at a time when everyone is focused on Ascot.
There could also be the longer-term objective of a tilt at the Amateur Riders race at the Galway Festival. It’s vintage Sir Mark and I can’t let him go unbacked, hopefully not just for old time’s sake!
NOCHE MAGICA (14:30, Royal Ascot)
BERTINELLI (15:05, Royal Ascot)
ELDAR ELDAROV (16:20, Royal Ascot)
REDARNA (18:10, Royal Ascot)
TANGO ARUMBA (18:00, Uttoxeter)
WHATAWIT (20:20, Leopardstown)