‘The Steeple Times’ analyses the selections for a somewhat damp Gold Cup Day at ‘Royal Ascot At Home’ – very much a day to stay indoors and watch Stradavarius, Frankie Dettori and Sir John Gosden
Rain could shake everything up today at ‘Royal Ascot At Home’ – as this year’s closed doors meeting has been branded – and though Stradivarius will not especially love any significant downpours, he is the horse that will surely be the highlight of Gold Cup day.
Trained by the Sir John Gosden, ridden by Frankie Dettori and owned by Bjorn Nielson, here is a horse seeking to secure a Royal Ascot hat-trick. Speaking to the Daily Mail’s Marcus Townend, Sir John commented: “He is in good form” whilst GG.co.uk concluded: “Stradivarius, and Frankie Dettori of course, are the undoubted top bill on day three of Royal Ascot 2020.”
1.50pm – Wolferton Stakes (15 runners) – Ryan Moore and A. P. O’Brien’s Sir Dragonet at 12/5 has been branded as “among Thursday’s worthy support acts” (GG.co.uk).
Racing Post not especially enthusiastic: “Shade disappointing since close fifth in last year’s Derby but still has time on his side.”
3.35pm – Gold Cup (8 runners) – The horse of the day is Stradivarius at 8/11 (The Telegraph, The Sun TREBLE).
Racing Post concludes: “Top-class stayer, including winning this race for the last two years; hard to beat.”
4.40pm – Sandringham Stakes – Sir John Gosden’s African Dream at 13/8 (The Telegraph, Guardian). As Simon Rowlands of At The Races sensibly concludes: “The very short price makes him unplayable to me.” Watch and enjoy.
Chris Cook of the Guardian comments: “It is hard to resist the claims of African Dream, who ran way above her rating when second at Newbury last week. Whether she can reproduce that effort in these very different circumstances is a fair question but her connections give her every chance.”
1.15pm – Golden Gates Handicap (16 runners) – Sticking with the combo of the Dettori-Gosden dream team, Hypothetical is an appealing each way at 9/2 from 4/1 earlier (Radio 4).
Racing Post says: “Opening mark is reasonable and profile points to strong potential for improvement” with their verdict being: “Despite the big field Acquitted makes a good bit of appeal. Hypothetical may be next best, ahead of Maori Knight.”
‘Templegate’ for The Sun adds: “Hypothetical comes from John Gosden and Frankie Dettori and is dropping in class after a solid fourth in the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown on comeback. He went well until the lack of a recent run appeared to take its toll. It would be a surprise if he doesn’t take a step forward from that.”
3.35pm – Gold Cup (8 runners) – An each way on the James Doyle-Charlie Appleby combo Cross Counter could be a more appealing each way at 11/1 (The Sun ‘Next Best’).
Racing Post says: “Held behind Stradivarius when in the frame in this (4th) & at Goodwood (3rd); could be 2nd.”
4.10pm – Britannia Stakes (24 runners) – An each way on Ralph Beckett’s Great Ambassador at 12/1 (Guardian NAP, At The Races) could be worthwhile.
Chris Cook of The Guardian says: “His final outing as a juvenile suggested Great Ambassador was in line for a big three-year-old season. From a hot yard and drawn on the favoured side, he is on a handy rating in view of some of his form, which includes a close second in Pyledriver’s maiden.”
Hugh Taylor for At The Races says: “Great Ambassador had five runs as a 2yo and might look too exposed for a race like this, but those runs really do stand up to close inspection… I think he’s capable of proving much better than his current mark when everything drops right, and although he lacks a recent run, he looks well worth chancing on his reappearance, especially from a potentially handy draw… He carries a 5lb penalty here, but goes up 12lb from Saturday, and given he’s a keen-going type who promises to be well suited by the demands of a big-field handicap, he has clear claims here.”
Racing Post adds: “Hacked up on final 2yo start; should stay 1m; enters calculations.”
Also in the 4.10pm – Britannia Stakes (24 runners) – Our wildcard is Richard Hannon trained Ziggle Pops at 22/1 from 20/1 earlier (Radio 4).
Racing Post says: “Came home strongly to beat a few of these in 7f AW handicap; up 5lb; should stay 1m.”
With no Ladies Day fashion parade due to lockdown, today is one to stay indoors, pour yourself a glass of something special and enjoy a happy afternoon’s racing. Cheers to y’all!
Watch Gold Cup Day at ‘Royal Ascot at Home’ on ITV1 from 1.30pm to 5pm.