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Richard Hoiles: My picks for every race at Royal Ascot on Thursday

19 Jun | BY Richard Hoiles | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Hoiles: My picks for every race at Royal Ascot on Thursday

The horse racing broadcaster offers his best bets for the entire card on the third day of the Royal Ascot meeting, including the Gold Cup.


Usually, the Coventry is touted as the best two-year-old race of the week at Royal Ascot. With three outsiders leading them home, though, it could be the 5f Norfolk – which gets us underway on Thursday – thatcould turn out to be the most significant. Whistlejacket is the short-priced favourite after his defeat of Arizona Blaze was franked by that horse’s victory at the Curragh. It will not be one-way traffic, though, and owners Wathnan Racing, who peppered the flag on Tuesday, have a strong hand with Breeze Up purchases Shareholder and AESTERIUS / . Personally, I prefer what looks to be the second string given James Doyle’s choice of Shareholder. I called Aesterius at Bath, where he traveled well and despite being pressed for the lead, saw it out strongly. Shareholder looked much more rough around the edges and had been reported by Karl Burke to have taken a while to settle into the yard. Aesterius arrived earlier into Archie Watson’s and is a terrific looking horse. While he will need to take another big step forward, he looks a plausible alternative to Whistlejacket at a much bigger price.


The first handicap of the day is the 1m 4f King George V Handicap, which as usual is full of progressive handicappers. A couple of them, Poniros and CHANTILLY / , lined up in the London Gold Cup, which has traditionally proved a strong form race. Chantilly should be able to get a decent spot from stall 7 in a race where the bias towards the outside stalls seems to defy logic as they should cover more ground. Hold-up horses drawn low seem to find themselves shuffled back and surrounded, and it can be a messy race. Going The Distance and Royal runner Gilded Water both have upwardly mobile profiles, but jockeyship is crucial in this sort of scenario, so Ryan Moore is a major plus.


The suspicion about this year’s Oaks at Epsom is that it had a good winner in Ezaliya from a field that lacked depth. Runner-up Dance Sequence made no show in the Prix De Diane on Sunday, and it could be that come the end of the season DIAMOND RAIN / could prove to be Godolphin’s main middle-distance three-year-old filly and can win the Ribblesdale. She has only seen the racecourse twice, and at Newbury last time looked a potentially top-class prospect. Out of an Oaks winner in Dancing Rain, she really looks the part and is taken to confirm form with Siyola, who was third that day and also sports a top-class pedigree. The Epsom form is represented by You Got To Me, Forest Fairy, and Rubies Are Red, so it will be interesting to see how the two lines of form line up.


The centerpiece of Day 3 is the Gold Cup, which features one of the shortest priced horses in the week in Kyprios. It has hardly been plain sailing since his win in the race in 2022, when he looked destined to dominate the scene for years to come. An injury after a very wayward but successful run in France and defeats in both his starts last season mean it has been a climb back to the top. His two wins this season have been a bit lethargic but he is clearly the class act in the field, and therein lies the rub. He owes his price partly to the paucity of opposition rather than rock-solid credentials, which is never really a comfortable reason to take a short price.

Gregory won the Queens Vase last season and finished one place behind Vauban on his return at Doncaster, while the talented but enigmatic Sweet William and Caius Chorister represent the Henry II form at Sandown. With so many with question marks, last year’s runner-up COLTRANE / looks the solid option. He beat Caius Chorister and Sweet William here in May and looks by far the most likely to give his running, and fast ground will be a plus.


The Brittania is a similar type of race to the earlier King George V but with even more runners! A shortlist of Starlore (unlucky in running at Goodwood last time), Volterra, and FOLLOW ME / with the Irish raider getting the verdict. Ross O’Sullivan has his horses in good form, and the horse appears to have improved since joining from France at the start of this campaign.


Check out how Poniros and Chantilly fared in the King George as a guide to the likely favorite Kings Gambit‘s chance in the Hampton Court. Winners of the London Gold Cup invariably make the step up to Pattern company, and he has obvious chances to do the same. The only worry in the back of my mind is that the yard was flying at the time but have just hit a bit of a flat spot. He comes up against French Derby runner-up FIRST LOOK / , who seemed to run a bit above himself that day but ran up against a promising winner in Look De Vega, and there is certainly nothing of that caliber in here.


The card closes with another big field 7f handicap. Awaal comes here rather than Wednesday’s Hunt Cup in which he placed last year and is certainly well enough treated to run another big race. The form of the yard has been a bit in and out, though, and even though he does have form fresh, it is quite an ask to win first time up if his preparation has not been straightforward. Northern Express is a regular in this sort of race and placed last time at York in the same race as twelve months ago before finishing third in this race last year. He is a solid each-way bet but had the chance to go by last time and could be booked for a place again. Preference is for ENGLISH OAK / despite a hefty 9lb rise for his win at Haydock last time. 7f looks his perfect trip, and he can make up into a Group performer later on in the season, which would still make 99 look a fair mark.

Another competitive day in prospect.

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Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.