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Royal Ascot Day 3 Preview – Opinion Poll to continue our good fortune

June 16, 2011

Day 3 at Royal Ascot celebrates the stayers, with the feature the time honoured Ascot Gold Cup over 4000m.

The three year old handicapping stayers also have their opportunity in the King George V Stakes, while the three year old fillies line up in the Ribblesdale Stakes.

Just Horse Racing’s Andrew Hawkins was on the ball last night, tipping three winners on top (Strong Suit, Julienas and Rhythm of Light) – all at double figure odds – as well as snagging the trifecta in order in Race 1, which paid $223.60 for a $1 unit in Victoria.

He will be hoping to continue his good fortune on what is a day of likely value.

Here is his preview for Day 3 of Royal Ascot:

Race 1 – Group 2 Norfolk Stakes (5f)

This short course dash up the straight for two year olds was first run in 1843, and it was known as the New Stakes for 130 years. In recent times it has been a good indicator for future sprinters. Johannesburg and Radiohead are the most prolific winners in recent times.

Once again, big field of two year olds so it is hard to be confident! A number of scratchings have made it slightly easier to figure out. I don’t mind the look of SILVERHEELS. Keeping in mind that drawing wide was the best thing in earlier sprint races down the straight, he may get the good run and really, he couldn’t have been more impressive on debut. EVERYDAY DAVE has had two solid wins in both the US and France and the alternative formline may be the key – and Wesley Ward has been successful at this meeting before. BAPAK CHINTA was fantastic on debut, when he beat subsequent Royal Ascot winner Frederick Engels. The draw is the query but should go on. At odds, throw in BURWAAZ for all exotics.

18 – Silverheels
11 – Everyday Dave
3 – Bapak Chinta
6 – Burwaaz

Race 2 – Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes (1m 4f)

Originally run at a mile for three and four year olds, the race was established in 1919. However, the race with which we are familiar today only came into being in 1950. It is usually seen as a consolation for those horses that didn’t win the Epsom Oaks and is one of the prime lead ups for the Irish Oaks.

Tough as the fillies are a very even bunch. ZAIN AL BOLDAN was disappointing in the Epsom Oaks, but her previous efforts suggest that she is much better than that and I’d be willing to give her another chance. RUMH won a Listed race over 1m 2f by 6L last time out. She should stay the trip and is a definite hope. Godolphin also have a fabulous record in this race so it may be that this filly continues that record. HIGHEST is by Dynaformer, the sire of Melbourne Cup winner Americain, so the distance should be no problem, while ARIZONA JEWEL may be the improver.

12 – Zain Al Boldan
10 – Rumh
6 – Highest
1 – Arizona Jewel

Race 3 – Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup (2m 4f)

One of the world’s oldest races, it was first run in 1807. Considered to be Britain’s best staying race, it is a gruelling test of stamina. In recent times, the name most associated with the Gold Cup is four time winner Yeats. Other winners familiar to Australian audiences include the Dermot Weld-trained Rite of Passage, Godolphin’s Kayf Tara, Enzeli, Double Trigger and Drum Taps. It is a race which tends to throw up the same horses every year, so horses that have run well in this race in the past tend to do well every year.

What a fascinating race we have here! The most notable thing first up is that there seems to be a lack of stamina amongst the favourites. They look like perfect two mile horses, but this is a whole new kettle of fish. It would be like saying that an AJC Derby winner will definitely stay 3200m – many of them struggle when they step up in trip. It is also a very open race – I can make a case for ten of the fifteen runners. So it is about deciphering all the different factors to try and come up with a winner. There is no doubt in my mind that Fame and Glory is the classiest horse in the field. But this is his first time past 2800m. That said, Yeats was very similar when he attempted this in 2006 for the first time. He was a Coronation Cup winner the year before (as was Fame and Glory). But does Fame and Glory really look like a stayer? I reckon he’d be a good Melbourne Cup horse, but in this race – look, I’m hesitant. I was really keen on Godolphin’s two runners, but the rain is falling at Ascot which could ruin Holberg’s chances. I harken back to some of Opinion Poll’s runs last year, where he produced a very nice turn of foot to win. He gets a bigger field here too, so should be suited. And he likes it a bit soft underfoot. So at odds, I’m going to go for OPINION POLL. For second, I have to go for FAME AND GLORY. Classiest horse in the race and if he stays, we could see a sensational performance. I don’t think he’ll be as strong at the trip as some others but class will get him close enough. KASBAH BLISS is one enigmatic horse but at his best, he’d go really well here. Remember, he ran a head second to Alandi in the 2009 Prix du Cadran, then dropped in distance to run third to Daryakana in the Hong Kong Vase. He’s probably not going as well now, but I don’t know if he needs to be. For fourth, I’m looking at either Duncan, who I don’t think will stay the 2m 4f, Holberg and Manighar, who will be totally unsuited by the rain tumbling down at the moment, and comeback king Geordieland – who, incredibly, is first up in this race after two years off the scene! I might go with MANIGHAR for fourth, but I’m not sure. Here’s hoping for the blowout with Opinion Poll!

10 – Opinion Poll
5 – Fame and Glory
8 – Kasbah Bliss
9 – Manighar

Race 4 – Britannia Stakes (1m)

The name of the race alone makes me want to burst out in song. Rule, Britannia anyone? Anyway, this race was first run in 1928. Featuring three year olds, it has become one of the handicap highlights as there is always a big field and as such, a spirited betting race. The last three winners have been at greater than 20/1 – perhaps an omen?

History says it is a race for those at double figures, so let’s go for the knockout. Right down in the weights, CATALYZE could be one at huge odds. Was poor on his seasonal debut but his form last preparation behind 2000 Guineas placegetter Dubawi Gold would be good for a race like this, particularly in a handicap. BRIDGEFIELD is right up near the top of the weights. He didn’t stay 1900m at his last run when he was beaten 12L by former Sydney filly Reem (remember her?) and he’ll improve back to the mile. Carries a lot of weight but Dettori is on board. CHAIN LIGHTNING has to go in for the pure fact that Hannon’s stable jockey Richard Hughes had the pick of four mounts, four very good mounts – and he chose this fella. SAGRAMOR is potentially going to start favourite and on his form, you’d say it is deserved.

29 – Catalyze
2 – Bridgefield
14 – Chain Lightning
11 – Sagramor

Race 5 – Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes (1m 2f)

Named this year to celebrate 300 years of Royal Ascot (so that is what a Tercentenary is! It makes sense…), the race is normally called the Hampton Court Stakes. Run for three year olds over 2000m, two of the past three winners are horses that are now fairly familiar with Australian punters. In 2008, the winner was Collection. He went on to win the Hong Kong Derby at four and has become a fixture in Group 1 racing in Asia. Meanwhile, in 2009, the winner was subsequent Eagle Farm Cup winner Glass Harmonium. I’m sure the likes of Chris Waller, Mike Moroney, Lee Freedman and Lloyd Williams will be watching this race eagerly.

The favourite is likely to be Tazahum, sired by Australia’s own Redoute’s Choice. To be honest, I’m not sure how Redoute’s Choice will go as a sire of middle distance horses in Europe – it will be very intriguing. Nevertheless, I’m going to steer clear. MARKSMANSHIP was good on debut and Aiden O’Brien has a good record in this race. He’ll be thereabouts. ALKIMOS is an improving type and I can see him going on under the watchful eye of Luca Cumani. HUNTER’S LIGHT won his maiden last start very impressively, discarding of a prior stakes placegetter with ease. The form stacks up and he’ll get the trip. Definite chance. SLUMBER was slightly disappointing last start but she did finish third in a race where the winner, Treasure Beach, went on to finish second in the Epsom Derby. On that alone, must be conceded some chance.

9 – Marksmanship
2 – Alkimos
5 – Hunter’s Light
14 – Slumber

Race 6 – King George V Stakes (1m 4f)

If you think Australian trainers and owners were watching the last race closely, well, they’ll be glued to their sets for this race. In my opinion, given the handicap conditions of the race, the big field size and the fact that many of these have scope to improve, these will be the best stayers in the future from an Australian perspective. And this is the single race which has produced the most imports in recent times. Out of last year’s race, Chris Waller now has Contract Caterer, while Lloyd Williams bought London Stripe – who is yet to race in Australia. In 2009, multiple stakes placegetter Above Average and Adelaide Cup winner Muir were among the runners. In 2008, the Ball and Chain Syndicate bought runner up Savarain, with another acquisition Trenchtown also amongst the field. So I am sure it is a safe bet that one of these runners will be here in the future.

I’d dearly love for that horse to be BROWN PANTHER. What he did at his last start at Haydock was incredibly impressive and I will be surprised if he isn’t in the placings. CENSUS looks a good colt in the making, and Highclere always has something striking form at this time. Last year, they had both Harbinger and Theology. I reckon this colt could give them another Ascot victory. SUD PACIFIQUE looks like he’ll appreciate the 1m 4f, or 2400m, here, while PICTURE EDITOR looks the best at odds. But I’m hoping to see a big victory from Brown Panther.

8 – Brown Panther
4 – Census
5 – Sud Pacifique
2 – Picture Editor

Coming up tomorrow…the fillies go for gold in the Coronation Stakes over a mile, the colts and geldings run in the King Edward VII Stakes and the three year old stayers (and potential Melbourne Cup horses) run in the Queen’s Vase

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