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Two down, three to go. The first two days of Royal Ascot 2023 have flown by, but don’t worry, we’ve still got three days of excellent flat action to get stuck into. Let’s look ahead to the races on the third day of the meeting.
14:30 – Norfolk Stakes
- 1 14:30 – Norfolk Stakes
- 2 15:05 – King George V Stakes
- 3 15:40 – Ribblesdale Stakes
- 4 16:20 – Gold Cup
- 5 17:00 – Britannia Stakes
- 6 17:35 – Hampton Court Stakes
- 7 18:10 – Buckingham Palace Stakes
Up first on the third day of Royal Ascot this year is the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes, run over five furlongs, open to two-year-olds only. In the early betting, speedster Elite Status looks set to go off as a red-hot favourite for Karl Burke, who really does seem to have an above average crop of young performers this season.
The twice-raced colt has made quite the impression so far, winning easily at Doncaster on debut, before making a very positive impression at Sandown last time out. On good ground for the first time, stepping up to Listed class, Burke’s runner blitzed a decent field, including his promising stable mate World Of Darcy. Such form is amongst the best on offer and he’s certainly the one to beat here.
Best Bet: Elite Status @ 7/4
15:05 – King George V Stakes
The second race of the say will be the 22-runner King George V Stakes, a fiercely competitive handicap run a mile and four furlongs.
Quite a few are fancied in the early betting, as three or four runners sway for market supremacy. The early market leader, though only a narrow one, is Tagabawa for the more than useful combination of William Buick and Charlie Appleby. On just his third start and his first race of the season, the three-year-old gelding impressed when winning a Kempton handicap over this trip back in April and has been kept for this since, so don’t be surprised if he runs a big race.
I really like Wonder Legend for trainer James Ferguson. This colt took a big step in the right direction when winning well on both turf and handicap debut last time out. Building on his all-weather win, he burst clear when asked the question by Daniel Muscutt, showing good to speed to put distance between him and his rivals. He’s been hit with quite the rise for that, though he did appear to be well ahead of the handicapper and ought to step forward and make his presence felt for a yard that had a very close second in the 2022 renewal of this race.
Best Bet: Wonder Legend (each-way) @ 8/1
15:40 – Ribblesdale Stakes
There may be 19 runners set to go to post for this renewal of the Ribblesdale Stakes, but if the early betting is anything to go by, there’s only one winner. Al Asifah currently heads the market at a very skinny 4/6.
Trained by John Gosden, this horse has won each of his first two races, winning a Listed contest a Goodwood with real ease earlier this month. The way he performed on that occasion suggested that he had plenty more to offer, so it’s no surprise that he’s a hot favourite for this, even if he is too short to get excited about.
At a bigger price I’d consider Warm Heart. This isn’t exactly a case of pulling one out from nowhere, as she’s trained by Aiden O’Brien and ridden by none other than Ryan Moore. Encountering good ground for the first time, this horse improved to win a Listed contest at Newbury last time out beating a couple of decent horses, one of which has since won in Listed company in France. She’s likely to take another step in the right direction for a trainer that has won this race three times since 2014.
Best Bet: Warm Heart (each-way) @ 14/1
16:20 – Gold Cup
Next up on day three is the stamina-sapping Gold Cup, which is run over two miles and three furlongs. To win this tough race, horses need heart, stamina, resilience and staying power in equal measure.
The narrow favourite in the early market is Coltrane, who it really is easy to make a case for. This prolific winner landed the Ascot Stakes over this trip at the Royal meeting last season and has since gone from strength to strength, winning a Listed contest, a Group 3 and a Group 2. Is without a Group 1 win, but his effort to win at this venue on reappearance back at the start of May gives him strong claims.
I’m going to chance the stamina of Yibir, who has a class about him that few of these can match. Winner of the prestigious Breeders Cup Turf in 2021, this horse also finished second in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic last season. He’s yet to go this far, but when he’s been on song, the gelding has always finished races with plenty in the tank. After a reappearance run should have got him race ready, don’t be surprised if he proves to be a big player here.
Best Bet: Yibir (each-way) @ 12/1
17:00 – Britannia Stakes
No less than 30 runners are set to go to post for this handicap race over a straight mile, so it’s a case of take your pick. Quantum Impact is an early favourite and given the field size, it quite a strong one at 11/2 in places. For the soon-to-be-retired Frankie Dettori, the colt seemingly has a solid chance on the strength of his York win last time out, though contending with 5lb rise in the weights won’t be easy.
Joseph O’Brien was somewhat unlucky with one in a handicap on Wednesday when Adelaise got stuck in traffic before thundering home to place and he looks to have another decent handicap type here in the form of Just An Hour. This colt kept on well to win a pretty strong Killarney Maiden over a mile last time out, showing a decent turn of foot inside the final furlong. He beat a subsequent winner rated 89 on just his third start, and if he comes on just a little bit, could easily have a say here for a wily handler.
Best Bet: Just An Hour (each-way) @ 18/1
17:35 – Hampton Court Stakes
The betting is competitive for this Group 3 contest. There is currently little between the top two in the early market, but that won’t bother John Gosden, who trains both Epictetus and Torito. The former hasn’t quite fired in Group 2 and Group 1 company since winning a Listed contest at Epsom, but this drop in class should aid his cause. The latter arrives here having cosily won a strong handicap at Epsom last time out and is well worthy of his place in a race like this.
For me, though, the best bet is Caernarfon, who just isn’t getting the respect that she deserves. Sure, she’s up against the boys, but the form of her Epsom Oaks third is the strongest on offer here, while she’s the highest rated horse in the race. She’s well worth a crack at this extra distance and could easily make odds of 12/1 look rather sizable.
Best Bet: Caernarfon (each-way) @ 12/1
18:10 – Buckingham Palace Stakes
The lucky last on day there is something of a minefield for punters and commentators alike. 29 runners go to post here, so find the winner is unlikely to be an easy task.
A case can of course be made for plenty, but I’m going to keep this brief and focus on Rhoscolyn, who is now starting to look well handicapped. David O’Meara’s runner hasn’t won since 2021, but he is twice a winner at this level, while he’s now dropped back to just 1lb above his last winning mark. What’s more, he was a running-on third in this last from much higher in the weights. Hasn’t been overly tried with of late, so he may just have been aimed at this. Well worth a go at a decent price.
Best Bet: Rhoscolyn (each-way) @ 20/1
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