Royal Ascot, Kyprios with Ryan Moore up wins the Ascot Gold Cup at Ascot racecourse, 16.06.2022 GB. Photo GALOPPFOTO/Racingfotos.com

Royal Ascot 2023: Day 3 (Thursday) Preview, Tips

To the middle day of five, and the feature race of the entire week, the Gold Cup. Run over two and a half miles, and evoking recent memories of both Frankie Dettori and Stradivarius, but perhaps more poignantly of Her late Majesty The Queen and Estimate's win a decade ago. The Queen's enthusiasm and social mandate for the sport is irreplaceable, and it is to be cherished that King Charles - and perhaps especially Queen Consort Camilla - are sprinkling some of their patronage across a meeting so fondly enjoyed by the former sovereign.

Let's get to the sport: Thursday's septet of sizzlers tees off at two-thirty with the...

 

2.30 Norfolk Stakes (5f, Group 2, 2yo)

Presented by the "Cleeve Racing" service

Your first 30 days for just £1

A favourite has not won the Norfolk in the last 12 renewals; however it is not quite as open as you may first perceive, with 8 of the last 12 winners coming from the 2nd and 3rd favourite spots, respectively.

Unlike many races at the Royal meeting prior course form is not required with none of the last 12 winners having won at Ascot, but a win somewhere looks to be a must: 12/12 winners having had a previous run, and 11/12 having had at least one win in the build up to the race.

The question therefore is will Elite Status be the trend-destroyer? He was impressive on second start at Sandown, running a time way above par at the course and winning by an impressive five lengths. Surely if any horse is going to turn the grim record for favourites around, he is.

Noche Magica was beaten by Givemethebeatboys at the Curragh, that one running well in defeat on Tuesday in the Coventry Stakes. Noche Magica should improve for the surface and is dropped back to 5f, having won over that trip at Cork on debut. The 15/2 available at the moment looks more than fair, and it is of some note that the price is shortening. It is also very much worth mentioning that, from a small sample size, trainer, Paddy Twomey has his horses flying in the last 14 days.

A race where it typically pays to be up with the pace, the Wesley Ward talking horse, American Rascal, is likely to give them all something to aim at. Ward is quoted as saying, “he really is something” and, being the first foal of Lady Aurelia, herself a two-time winner here, in fantastic style in 2016 and 2017, out of the Breeders' Cup Classic winner Curlin, he could well be. If you are backing the Ward horse however, you are doing so out of the talk and hype largely and maybe, just maybe, that's enough!

Another horse, shortening as I write, is His Majesty for Ryan Moore and AP O'Brien, 10s in most places. A drop back to 5f will suit and he will be expected to improve for the surface, having won in Listed company at the Curragh on debut. It can pay to be drawn high and held-up in this race, and His Majesty will definitely make the short list.

Outside of those mentioned, nothing else leaps out of real interest. Elite Status looks to be the horse to break the trends and justify favouritism, but I will focus my attention on Noche Magica and His Majesty, the latter being one the market has caught on to.

Shortlist:
His Majesty 10/1
Noche Magica 13/2

 

3.05 King George V Stakes (1m4f, Class 2 handicap, 3yo)

Presented by Gavin Priestley's "Festival Trends" service

25 of the last 26 winners finished top 3 last time out which is quite remarkable for such a competitive handicap while all of the last 13 winners finished top 2. Since 1997 there have been 22 winners to have won at least one of their last two starts with all four exceptions being maidens coming into this race.

All of the 13 winners since 2010 were rated 85-95. If we forget 2020 (the year of covid and a delayed start to the flat) we can also see that all of the last 13 winners had raced within the previous 40 days and had run at least twice that flat season.

Since 2007, all 32 horses to have raced in a maiden last time out have been beaten as have all 21 runners dropping down in trip compared to their last run. All 19 horses to have had their last run in a Group race this century have been beaten (Listed race runners are 1 win from 30 runners) while all five horses to race in a class 5 handicap last time have finished unplaced. Only two winners this century (2009 and 2012) had run more than seven times in their career up to this point with those two winners coming from the 59 horses with eight or more career starts.

Last year's winner, Secret State, was the first winner to carry more than 9-03 to victory since 2001. There had been 49 horses carrying 9-04 or more between those two winners.

John Gosden won this race in 1997 but has seen all 22 runners since then beaten with just four making the frame. His losers include 11 last time out winners, 20 that finished in the top four last time out and ten at under 8/1 including three favourites. He runs three this year with Burglar the mount of Frankie Dettori and the shortest price of the trio. He's won two of his three starts, both novice events either side of a defeat at odds on but the form from all three of those races looks poor with not a single winner coming from the 19 horses he's beaten.

Mark Johnston loved to have runners in this race and he won it five times between 2002 and 2018. He also had seven placed runners including the 3rd in 2020 and the 4th in 2019 from a total of 64 runners in the race. All five of his winners had run at least four times in their career, were rated 85+ and finished first or second last time out. Backing these Johnston types that were 12/1 or shorter would have given you the following results: 113014041017000 That's five winners and three places from 15 runners for a profit of +34.5pts. Son Charlie will be looking to restore the stable's great previous record in the race with Struth, who looks to fit the bill best of their two entries.

Another trainer looking to turn back the clock to former glories in this race is Sir Michael Stoute who won the King George V four times between 1998 and 2008 but has seen all 12 of his runners since get beaten (three placed). He's decided against running Nader King, despite having him jocked up earlier in the week, and that's thrown me a little as I had him down as my best handicap bet of the meeting. Back to the drawing board for me but that's probably a good sign to the chances of Perfuse who is now the only runner from the stable's three original entries.

I'm going to look away from the big name yards, though, to back a couple of outsiders. The first is DOUBLE MARCH who is one of only four runners to pass all the trends. He won at the course last time out in a race that has worked out very well with the 5th, 6th and 7th all winning since and both of the other two horses to have run since finishing second. In fact, in all of the races he's ever contested, there have been multiple subsequent race winners behind him including the Southwell maiden he won at the end of last season which has seen the runner up win his first two starts this season (now rated 91), the fourth win a maiden next time out at 28/1 (now rated 92) and the 5th win a novice event on his next start. Even the 9th home, beaten 12 lengths, is two from two this season and now rated 80. At Ascot last time Double March stayed on well to go clear in the final furlong before being eased close home and looking well worth a try at this longer trip. Up 7lb to 87 for that win I still think he's ahead of the handicapper and I fancy him to outrun his odds.

My other selection doesn't quite fit the trends but comes from the Hughie Morrison stable whose runners since 2010 have finished 35522. His runner this year, MR MISTOFFELEES is therefore greatly respected especially as he has been dropped a pound since his last run in the London Gold Cup handicap, a race that always provides lots of winners through the season. Plenty of subsequent winners have come out of the novice event he won at Kempton last December and he was only six lengths off Dante winner The Foxes in the Craven on his seasonal debut where subsequent easy winner Mostabshir was only a nose in front of him. We'll take as many places as we can and back him each way.

SELECTIONS: DOUBLE MARCH EW 25/1 / MISTER MISTOFFELEES EW 33/1 (6 PLACES)

Click here for news of Gavin's 'Horses to Follow from Royal Ascot'

 

3.40 Ribblesdale Stakes (1m4f, Group 2, 3yo)

Preview by Matt Bisogno

The Ascot Oaks as almost literally nobody calls the Ribblesdale has attracted a bumper field of 19 this year. That is the biggest since at least 1988, and the implication is that there's no standout contender. The betting suggests otherwise, however, with the undefeated-in-two Al Asifah a shade of odds on despite the massed ranks in opposition.

You'd be forgiven for asking, "Who?", because Al Asifah, trained by the Gosdens and ridden by Jim Crowley, only made her debut four weeks ago, in a Haydock maiden. She won by half the track, or just shy of five lengths to be more scientific, and then dished up in a Listed contest, again over ten furlongs, at Goodwood. The margin that day was six and a half lengths and she's clearly 'could be anything' material. Regardless of what she could be, she already is seven pounds clear of her nearest rivals on RPR's and, naturally after just the two appearances, retains a bundle of upside.

So what are the negatives? Well, one is inexperience and two is the chance of a troubled passage in such a congested field: she was held up on debut and raced mid-division last time out, but those were six- and seven-runner races respectively. It's one of the quirks of Ascot that a high draw over a mile and a half is actually a positive, which is counter-intuitive but well supported by any of win or place strike rate, or percentage of rivals beaten as the image below attests. Actually, it may be more accurate to say that low is inconvenienced because middle draws have done just fine, too. Al Asifah has stall 13.

She is also stepping up in trip and, though she's by Frankel, her dam was a miler though with stouter-staying horses close up in the pedigree: she's likely, but not certain, to stay on breeding for all that her visual impression was that she'll relish the extra quarter mile. The fact that the Gosdens have won four of the last six renewals of the Ribblesdale is another string to the bow of her chance.

 

 

But there are plenty of unexposed ascendant types bidding to topple her, led by Infinite Cosmos, Bluestocking and Warm Heart. The first named was only third to the Gosdens' Soul Sister in the Musidora, an Oaks trial, at York; but she had an unorthodox journey that day, missing the kick then pushed into the lead before fading from a furlong out. She may again be handy granted a level beginning but I'd expect a slightly more patient ride than bidding to make all. She is very much bred for this range, and beyond.

Bluestocking represents the Ralph Beckett Midas Touch with fillies; a dual Oaks-winning trainer, he's the only handler apart from Gosden and Aidan O'Brien to win the fillies' Epsom Classic since 2012! Bluestocking was a head behind Warm Heart when they met in the Listed Fillies' Trial at Newbury (10f, good) last time and was closing all the way to the line. Her pedigree doesn't scream middle distances but she'll get help from Frankie, who takes over from Rossa Ryan, in the saddle.

Ryan Moore partnered Warm Heart at Newbury and stays on board here. She's a typically well-bred Galileo filly, out of a mare who won three G1 sprints in Australia. Not necessarily a natural for twelve furlongs, then, and she was all out at the line over a quarter mile shorter last time; but she'd won over the same ten furlong trip on soft to heavy the time before and may see the longer yardage out.

One definitely bred for the gig is Maman Joon, by Sea The Stars out of a Norse Dancer mare. Her siblings include Candleford, a mile and a half winner at Royal Ascot last year, and Atty Persse, also a mile and a half winner at Royal Ascot, in 2017. Maman Joon is a two-race maiden, but the more recent of that brace was when fourth in the Oaks last time out. She's drawn wide in 15 and can improve enough to hit the frame with a reasonable conveyance through the race.

From France, Crown Princesse, trained by Fabrice Chappet, is an interesting contender: she has raced only on all-weather and very soft turf to date but the last of her four races - when a close third in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary over ten furlongs, puts her in the mix. The fact she's travelled implies no going concerns, and she's the sort to have a strong turn of foot as can be seen from the sectionals at Parislongchamp:

 

She may need more luck in the run than many from stall five, but if the gaps open she is expected to finish well.

Of the massive outsiders, perhaps Understated's case may be exactly that: she's yet to finish outside the first two in three starts, and looked to struggle with the track at Goodwood when second in a Listed race there last time (good, 10f). Back on a more conventional circuit, and emerging from a middle draw, she's expected to race handily and is bred to stay well.

In summary, this is all about Al Asifah, who will very likely win if getting a clean run. That 'if' makes odds on unattractive, and I'd rather risk a cup of tea win and sticky bun place about the chance of something at a price. In that context, 22/1 Maman Joon is the unfortunate to be encumbered by my wild speculation.

 

4.20 Gold Cup (2m4f, Group 1, 4yo+)

Presented by John Burke's "Victor Value" service

The Gold Cup, run over 2m 4f, is one of the world’s most prestigious flat races, which has a long history dating back to 1807 and is arguably the highlight of Royal Ascot. The race attracts some of the best stayers in training, with notable winners including Yeats, who won the race four consecutive times from 2006 to 2009, and Stradivarius, who matched that feat between 2018 and 2021. In 2013 it was the late Queen’s mare Estimate who came out on top on a memorable day for the sport.

This year’s line-up doesn’t include a Yeats or Stradivarius. That said, fourteen have been declared for one of the trickiest renewals I can remember. I’m not really a trends player but I have noticed that four-year-old’s have a good recent record providing eight of the last 15 winners of the race. It’s also not really been a race for a shock winner with just one winner from 102 runners (-81, 9 placed) being returned 14/1 or bigger since 2008.

The bookies were going 10/3 the field on Wednesday morning with recent course winner Coltrane and last year’s St Leger winner Eldar Eldarov vying for favouritism.

Given that not many horses in the modern era stay a truly run 2m 4f it’s a bonus for supporters of Coltrane that the six-year-old is proven over course and distance having won the Ascot Stakes 12 months ago. He’s suited by a sound surface and won’t be far away. 

Eldar Eldarov was a good ½ length 2nd of 6 in Yorkshire Cup on his seasonal return. Has the class to win this and was doing his best work at the finish at York; he could well stay and may even improve for the step up to 2m 4f.  Trainer Roger Varian’s horses are going well so far this week.

Broome was a length further back in third in the Yorkshire Cup. I had fancied him for this after his win in the Dubai Gold Cup (2m) at Meydan, but Ryan Moore seems to prefer stablemate Emily Dickinson. She won a Listed race at Navan (1m6f) on her seasonal return but disappointed at Leopardstown last month. She has looked a thorough stayer, but it may depend what sort of mood she’s in: on a going day she’s a major contender. You have to respect Ryan’s choice, but Broome is a confirmed stayer and I think he’s overpriced. 

Subjectivist won the 2021 renewal but has only had two starts since suffering a serious tendon injury. He looked to have retained plenty of his old ability when a five-length 3rd of 15 to Broome at Meydan last time and, if he was back to his 2021 best, he would have an obvious chance. 

Courage Mon Ami made it a perfect three from three when winning a Goodwood handicap (1m 6f) on his appearance 26 days ago. On the evidence of his Goodwood success, he should stay 2m but whether he’ll stay 2m 4f is a an unknown, but looks worth a try. This is a huge step up in class.

Yibir was returning from a ten-month layoff when a respectable two length 4th of seven to Haskoy in Aston Park Stakes at Newbury last time. He shaped like the run was needed there and wants further than 1m4f these days. It is unclear if he will stay this marathon trip but he has the class to go close if he does.

Echoes In Rain is a smart hurdler who won a mares' Grade 1 hurdle at the Punchestown Festival last time. The seven-year-old showed she stays two miles on the flat when a neck 2nd of 30 to Waterville in the Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh last September and, while she has plenty to find on Official Ratings, she’s trained by Willie Mullins so you can’t totally dismiss her.

Trueshan looks on the downgrade, and usually only runs with soft in the description; but he’s had wind surgery since finishing a seven length 4th of six to Coltrane in the Sagaro Stakes here last month.

Verdict: Coltrane and Eldar Eldarov are worthy market leaders and of the pair I prefer the claims of the latter. If 2021 winner Subjectivist was back to his best, then he would be tough to beat. Courage Mon Ami is open to any amount of progress but we must take a chance on his stamina as well as his class. BROOME might be overpriced due to Ryan Moore opting for stablemate Emily Dickinson and he’s my pick at double figure odds. 

Broome – 12/1 general

Royal Ascot 2023: Victor Value

 

5.00 Britannia Stakes (1m, Class 2 handicap, 3yo)

Presented by Josh Wright from "Racing To Profit"

Ah, The Britannia Stakes… 33 unexposed 3 Year Olds, all still open to improvement run to run. Some will relish the occasion and relentless gallop we could see here, many will not. Nearly half the field won on their last start and you won’t be shocked to hear I’m relying on some help from my trends and trainer pointers…

 

The trends…

15/424, 60p (total winners, runners, placed horses)

  • 15/15 were top 2 at least once last three starts (were not: 067,4p)
  • 15/15 0-3 runs this season (4+ : 0/42, 2p)
  • 15/15 won by trainers with 1 or 2 runners in race (3+ : 0/71, 11p)
  • 14/15 had run over no further than 8.5f in career (had: 1/85, 10p)
  • 14/15 had not run at Ascot previously (had: 1/86, 8p)
  • 14/15 had won at least once last three starts (had not: 1/127, 13p)
  • 14/15 Top 5 last start (6th or lower: 1/98, 8p)
  • 14/15 did not run in a C1 race last start (did: 1/64, 6p)

 

Applying those pointers would have found 11 of the previous 15 winners (11/128 runners, 32p, +127 Betfair SP), although was 0/11 last year – that’s how it can go with this approach. If these trends bounce back this year, we’re looking at a long list of eight…

Quantum Impact, New Endeavour, Good Karma, Fort Vega, Naxos, Royal Cape, Highbank, Thunder Ball

 

The odds have been some guide in this, those sent off bigger than 28/1 SP 0/185,13p in the period. That could be something to keep an eye on.

An official rating of OR87-96 has been a sweet spot (excludes the top six in the weights this year) as has six or fewer career starts. Applying those pointers would leave five…

Quantum Impact, Good Karma, Fort Vega, Naxos, Royal Cape

 

The trainers…

Those to have won the race in the last fifteen renewals, with runners this year, are…

  • Quantum Impact (R Beckett)
  • New Endeavour (R Varian)
  • Royal Cape (H Morrison)
  • Carracci (A P O’Brien)

Of those trainers with runners in the race who look in particularly good form in the previous 14 days… Aidan O’Brien (6/19,11p, 75% RB - rivals beaten), Charlie Appleby (5/15,7p, 75% RB), Charlie Johnston (19/73, 31p, 57% RB), Jessie Harrington (6/25,10p, 62% RB), Dominic Ffrench Davis (3/9,3p, 57% RB)

That’s not to say other trainers are out of form of course, just those five yards are going particularly well.

In the last fifteen renewals this isn’t a race where the likes of Charlie Appleby (0/10,1p), Richard Hannon (0/20,2p) or John Gosden (0/25,5p)  have done overly well. Charlie Johnston has officially taken over the license from his dad Mark, and played an active role in recent years; but it isn’t a race they’ve done that well in either, now 0/34,3p. Maybe Charlie will have more luck under his own name. Of course, racing here is ultra-competitive and maybe one of those will get on the board this year, with nine runners between them.

 

To the horses…

In a race packed with unexposed 3YOs, including fifteeen last time out winners, I’ve stuck to my trends and trainer pointers and hope they work again. They may well do of course, and I’ve still picked the wrong ones from the long-list but my three against the field…

Quantum Impact – SP – the bookies are not taking many chances with Frankie’s rides this week but a few of his have drifted out nearer the off and it could be worth taking a chance on SP, if you don’t have ‘best odds guaranteed’. 6s could be getting on the short side in a race of this nature but the horse hits my profile and Ralph knows what’s required to win this race. Frankie is good friends with the owners and it will be significant he’s on.  He’s 8/21,12p +12 SP when riding for Ralph in the last year. There appears an even spread of pace on paper and it awaits to be seen if it’s best to be high or low. Hopefully there isn’t a track bias. The horse knows how to win and improved again stepped up to 1m on his last start. The 3rd there won a Class 2 on his next start so there’s substance to the form.

Royal Cape – 20/1 – another drawn low. Tom Marquand does well when riding for Hughie Morrison, 3/14,5p +18 SP in the last year, and the trainer knows what’s required around here. This horse was a bit keen at Haydock, got shuffled back and wasn’t in the best position when the tempo lifted. He ran on well under gentle encouragement, on ground he may have found plenty quick enough. The winner that day is fancied for the Group 3 Jersey Stakes on Saturday. He could well enjoy this sort of race set up, if patiently ridden and if settling early. Hopefully the occasion doesn’t get to him but he’s a big price for some fun interest.

Fort Vega – 22/1 – I thought it best to have one drawn high onside also, with pace that side also. Connections were thinking about the Irish 2000 Guineas and The Jersey Stakes for this horse, which suggests they think plenty of him and if they’re correct, he should be leaving behind a mark of OR89 in handicaps at some stage. Such Group level thinking may be fanciful but he’s got a progressive profile having won narrowly the last twice. He’s a powerful mover which should help in this sort of race and a more patient ride could also aid him, having hit the front plenty soon enough last time, but showing a great attitude to hold on. The third that day won his next start, adding some substance to the form. He’s a likeable horse who can hopefully outrun his odds, in another very tricky looking contest.

*Keep in mind almost all bookmakers are paying 1/4 1-2-3-4 in this race, with all profits on the race going to charity.

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5.35 Hampton Court Stakes (1m2f, Group 3, 3yo)

Preview by David Massey

Another race where, in recent times, you’ve not had to delve too deeply to find the winner, although Claymore’s upsetting of the applecart last year, defeating the long odds-on Reach For The Moon in a small field, bucked the trend a little. There will be no such odds-on poke this year and it looks a much more competitive event, with a few with recent solid form taking on horses with a little to find on the figures, but for whom improvement may well be forthcoming. It makes for interesting punting. 

We’ll start with the form horses and on that score Caernarfon comes out as well as anything. I had her pegged as a soft ground horse but she showed that thinking all wrong with her third in the Oaks, where she improved enormously. She arguably shaped like the second-best horse in the race and was only run out of the silver very late on after trying to chase the winner down; and, for all that was a big step up in trip, I don’t see a drop back to ten furlongs here being a problem. She gets a useful 3lb fillies' sex allowance, and stall 10 is no disadvantage - the last time we had a 16-runner Hampton Court, the winner and second both came from double-figure draws. She holds strong claims and heads up my shortlist. 

Waipuro’s sixth in the Derby was a solid effort and afterwards trainer Ed Walker thought he didn’t stay and that a drop back to 10f would suit; but he had a pretty hard race there and might have left his effort for this behind. I like the horse and am happy to be proved wrong but I feel it may be another day for him. 

Frankie rides Epictetus for the Gosdens and he too has form in the bank, but their other runner, Torito, ridden by Benoit de la Sayette, holds better claims from my perspective. This fast-improving colt won the Lester Piggott Handicap at Epsom with a bit left in the tank, where runner-up Silver Sword had impressed me when scoring easily at Southwell the time before, so I rate the form strongly. He has a turn of foot, never a bad thing when Ascot is concerned, and looks smart. He’s second on my shortlist and will be in my placepots, too. 

If there’s one at a big price - and I can’t resist a big price, you all know that - Oviedo fits the bill nicely. Having had six starts already he’ll be ignored by most punters but I can put the line straight through two of those as they were on soft/heavy ground, which I don’t think he wants. Concentrate purely on his good and good to firm ground form and things look a bit brighter. He won his maiden at Doncaster in eyecatching fashion (the pair behind both next-time winners) before being thrown in against Chaldean in the Acomb, again shaping very well for third. He didn’t encounter good ground again until last time out at Redcar where, stepping up to a mile and a quarter, he easily took care of City Streak, himself a ready Chester winner the time before. That form leaves him short by a few pounds but a 40-1 price tag makes up for that, as does his wide draw in 16 which could be ideal for one that will be ridden prominently. Extra places are on offer and I won’t be able to resist a couple of quid each-way. 

 

6.10 Buckingham Palace Stakes (7f, Class 2 handicap, 3yo+)

Presented by Sam Darby's "Winning Post Profits" service

It was great to see this race return in 2020 after it was replaced on the card for five years and, it has to be said, this year’s renewal looks as difficult as ever! On Tuesday the rain not only had an effect on the ground but also seemingly on the draw. Prior to the morning downpour it was the stands’ side that had the highest going stick (higher means faster ground) but after the rain fell the far side had the highest reading. The action developed far side to middle in the straight course races so at the time of writing a lowish draw does seem to be preferred.

Wednesday’s racing will tell us more, especially the Queen Mary Stakes and the Royal Hunt Cup which are the biggest field straight course races on day two. It’s worth noting that the near side is yet to be explored and, according to Tuesday’s going stick readings, the near side was faster than the middle so you may wish to hold your bets until those races have been run in order to gain more evidence.

Pace will also play its part in determining where the best part of the course will be and the pace map, as usual, makes interesting reading.



It looks like all the pace is together in the centre stalls so they may end up coming up the middle in an arrowhead formation rather than splitting into multiple groups.

The market is heavily leaning towards the more unexposed runners and it’s easy to understand why. Of those at shorter prices I’d probably want to be against Biggles and Baradar (ground, assuming they don’t get thunderstorms on Thursday) and also Croupier (trip) whilst I think Unforgotten could land a race of this nature but he’s short enough all things considered now that he’s favourite.

Kingdom Come is closely matched with Unforgotten on their most recent outing and I think over this shorter trip Kingdom Come will reverse form with that rival, so I much prefer him at the prices given some bookies have Unforgotten at less than half the odds.

Northern Express is another one near the head of the betting that I quite like. This looks the ideal race for a smooth traveller like him and he was unlucky to be beaten by Croupier last time out at York so Northern Express should be the shorter of the pair here. Michael Dods’ runner looks an improved performer again this year and he ran an excellent 4th in the International Stakes 11 months ago off a 5lb lower mark.

There is no standout bet for me in this and to get involved in a race where half the field have valid claims I really want some big prices on my side.

There are several things NOT to like about Spirit Of The Light in this race. He’s well exposed, he has a poor win record for a horse of his quality and he ran very poorly in not one, but two course and distance races last season which is a big red flag. However, so many of his runs this season give him claims here. He ran some excellent races at Meydan in the early part of the year and then continued that form back here. His 2nd at Musselburgh in April on ground that was softer than ideal was brilliant form given the 4th and 5th have won since and the 1st, 3rd and 6th have also gone close. He holds Northern Express on that form.

He followed that up with an excellent 3rd at Newmarket where he finished on the heels of the subsequent 1st and 3rd in the Victoria Cup. On his most recent start he found 6f at York too sharp but he was making up eyecatching ground after meeting trouble in running and he again shaped extremely well. His price ranges from 14/1 to 25/1 at the time of writing and I’d be inclined to back him win only given he’s drawn very high, which could be a negative. Those poor course runs are also a factor in suggesting he shouldn’t be a place bet.

I’m even more keen on Accidental Agent, though, who is pretty much the outsider of the field at 50/1. The 2018 Queen Anne stakes winner is clearly on the decline but his rating may have declined more than his ability at this stage. He’s run some of his best races at Ascot and Newmarket: those venues have been the scene of his last five successes on turf. He looks to be at his best on straight courses and on decent ground, he’s won five from 22 on straight courses on good or better ground which is a fine record given he’s been highly tried in his time.

On last season’s form he has a decent chance in this. He was beaten 3½ lengths and 2½ lengths in similar course and distance handicaps last season off marks of 112 and 109 respectively and he’s now down to a mark of 101. He’s 16lbs better off with Northern Express for a 2¼ length beating in the International Stakes so has clear claims of finishing ahead of him. Even on his seasonal debut spin this year at Newmarket, on good ground off a 3lb higher mark, he has a decent chance given he wasn’t beaten far after being held up off one of the steadiest gallops you’ll ever see. Stall 8 might be just about perfect for him and he should be seen to best effect here on what will hopefully be decent ground.

So, to summarise, I’m looking to have an each way wager on Accidental Agent at around 50/1 and a smaller win only bet on Spirit Of Light at 20/1.

Sam Darby - Winning Post Profits. You can join my private service for just £1 if you click here.Sam Darby's Winning Post Profits

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That's a wrap on the third day of five for Royal Ascot 2023, and the third day of four here at geegeez.co.uk. It's tradition that readers are invited to rely on their own wiles for Saturday's card; but, before that, tune in again tomorrow for our 'home and away' previews of the Friday action.

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