The race of the day as far as Royal Ascot’s most loyal racegoers over the last 70 years is concerned, but it seems that the Queen will be watching from Windsor Castle as Reach For The Moon goes to post as one of the warmest favourites at the meeting for several years. He is the form horse, for sure, having finished close behind My Prospero – who was placed in the St James’s Palace Stakes here on Tuesday – on his first start for 250 days at Sandown in mid-May, but he is nothing like as far clear of a couple of his rivals as the betting might suggest.
Timeform, for instance, reckon that Claymore has 4lb to find with the favourite, and after just three starts, there is a decent chance that he will do so. His latest run in the French 2,000 Guineas can be ignored as he had the worst of the draw and tried to do too much, too soon to overcome it. His run behind Native Trail, the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner, in the Craven Stakes was full of promise and Reach For The Moon makes the market, which means he can be backed at a very generous 8-1.
Frankie Dettori is a mercurial character and he is going to be in some awful mood after the last two races. A very bad run on Stradivarius followed by an agonisingly close defeat on Saga for the Queen in the Britannia Stakes. He’ll have to make it up for Her Majesty in the next race on Reach For the Moon or he’ll be off to the tower!
1 Thesis (R L Moore) 14-1
2 Saga (L Dettori) 12-1
3 Jimi Hendrix (Rob Hornby) 20-1
4 Whoputfiftyinyou (A Kirby) 6-1
Also: 4-1 Fav King Of Time
Never been heard of before … the temperatures are going to be so hot on Friday at Ascot that gentlemen will be able to take their jackets off … in all enclosures!
And they’re off … Jimi Hendrix leads with Malex … Saga is well towards the back … Jimi Hendrix stays on and Saga finishes fas to finish second to Thesis.
- King of Time – 5/1
- Wanees – 6/1
- Whoputfiftyinyou – 13/2
- Tranquil Night – 8/1
- Amortentia – 8/1
- Thesis – 14/1
- Saga – 16/1
- Koy Koy – 16/1
- Atrium – 20/1
- BAR – 22/1
- Full Oddschecker betting
There are several immense tests of a punter’s diligence, intuition and willingness to rise to a challenge over the five days of the Royal meeting, but the Britannia Stakes is perhaps the sternest examination of them all. A full field of around 30 lightly-raced three-year-old milers is guaranteed, and any one of them could find the improvement required to land the first prize (which, in the horse’s case, is generally a gelding operation and a one-way ticket to Hong Kong).
Big-priced winners abound on the roll of honour, and even at around 6-1, the market leaders offer little value. Whoputfiftyinyou is perhaps the pick of those at shorter odds, having posted a strong time on his latest start (as had Perotto, last year’s 18-1 winner), but I’ll happily delve a lot further down the list for a bet and Jimi Hendrix is the eye-catcher in the prices at around 25-1. Ralph Beckett won this three years ago with Biometric – who derailed the Dettori bandwagon after four straight wins at the top of the card – and his runner today showed significant improvement on his fourth start last time, coming from nearly last to first to win by a length in a strong time.
Selection: JIMI HENDRIX
Frankie Dettori will not be happy after that run on Stradivarius in the Gold Cup. He put on a brave face on ITV Racing just now when he said: “He ran good – I had an inside draw so I had to be careful and the pace wasn’t that strong. I don’t think [the interference] cost me the race and the younger horse had fresher legs. He’s been a star and you have to pass on the baton at some time.”
1 Kyprios (R L Moore) 13-8 Fav
2 Mojo Star (Rossa Ryan) 15-2
3 Stradivarius (L Dettori) 2-1
Also: 18-1 Burning Victory 4th
Non Runner: 4
And they’re off … Stradivarius is handier than last year and Earlofthecotswolds takes it up as expected … Tashkhan is in second but they are all closely bunched with a full circuit to go … Mojo Star is close up in third with Princess Zoe in fourth … Stradivarius is in about sixth spot … Kyprios is just ahead … Bubble Smart has moved up into third … Earlofthecotswolds still leads with five furlongs to go … Stradivarius being held in again … Kyprios gets the lead but Mojo Star challenges and it’s the favourite Kyprios who wins the Gold Cup with Stradivarius back in third behind Mojo Star. Stradivarius again does not get the run of the race and Frankie appears to have been caught out again or did not have the horse to go when he wanted.
Cheers for Stradivarius as he goes down to the start. Frankie Dettori has now got off the horse near the start. The jockey reports to ITV Racing “that he does this at home – he stops”. So the rider has dismounted and is leading him the rest of the way down to the stalls.
Stradivarius, who can get worked up to say the least, appears relaxed ahead of the Gold Cup …
- Kyprios – 7/4
- Stradivarius – 5/2
- Princess Zoe – 13/2
- Mojo Star – 10/1
- Burning Victory – 18/1
- Tashkhan – 22/1
- Bubble Smart – 40/1
- Earlofthecotswalds – 40/1
- Alignak – 50/1
- Full betting at Oddschecker
Andrew Fisher (see earlier note) was turned away for this!
The highlight of the meeting, the Gold Cup is a stern test of a thoroughbred’s stamina and was once seen as the Derby winner’s obvious target in his four-year-old season. Those days are long gone but it is still a magnificent spectacle against the backdrop of a packed grandstand on Ladies’ Day, and there is potentially history to be made here too if Stradivarius can match the great stayer Yeats and win the race for a fourth time. In some ways, it would be even more of an achievement to win four times in non-consecutive years – Stradivarius was the beaten favourite behind Subjectivist last year – and Frankie Dettori is guaranteed to milk the moment for all it is worth if the chestnut gets it done.
Even with Trueshan predictably absent due to the fast ground, however, he still faces a very tough opponent in Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old Kyprios, who pulverised his field by 14 lengths at Leopardstown last month. He’s a hard-galloping type who likes to be up with the pace and if Stradivarius hits his customary flat spot three out, he could find Kyprios has gone beyond recall when his second wind arrives. Kyprios is a worthy favourite but other interesting runners include Princess Zoe, who was in front of Stradivarius when finishing second 12 months ago, Mojo Star, last year’s Derby runner-up, and also Willie Mullins’s mare Burning Victory.
Most of her big moments to date have come over jumps, including her fortuitous win in the 2020 Triumph Hurdle after Goshen crashed out at the final flight, but she has won two of her three starts on the level for Mullins and would presumably have had an option in the Queen Alexandra Stakes on Saturday. She’s an interesting each-way option if the favourite looks too short.
1 Magical Lagoon (S Foley) 11-4
2 Sea Silk Road (Tom Marquand) 15-8 Fav
3 History (R L Moore) 13-2
Also: 8-1 Mukaddamah 4th
And they’re off … Sea Silk Road got off fast but Mystic Wells takes the lead … Magical Lagoon is second … Mystic Wells has gone clear but will be caught soon … Life of Dreams leads the charge … Sea Silk Road comes fast and late and heads Magical Lagoon who fights back to win!
The 1954 Bloomsday (on a day when the Gold Cup was also run) sounds wonderfully riotous!
- Sea Silk Road – 9/4
- Magical Lagoon – 5/2
- Life of Dreams – 6/1
- History – 13/2
- Mukaddamah – 7/1
- Mystic Wells – 33/1
- Full Oddschecker betting
It doesn’t happen often but the running of the Gold Cup today coincides with Bloomsday, when fans of James Joyce’s modernist classic celebrate the exact day the action in his most famous work, Ulysses, was set. It is Ascot Gold Cup day as it was in 1904 when Leopold Bloom made his odyssey around Dublin in the book, and here is the background to the significance of the race in Joyce’s tome.
A disappointing turnout of half a dozen for this Group Two for three-year-old fillies – at least nine have gone to post for every previous renewal this century – but there is only one apparent no-hoper so the betting is reasonably competitive. Sea Silk Road, unbeaten in two runs this season, was the early favourite after the declarations on Tuesday but she has been joined at the head of the market by Magical Lagoon, from Jessica Harrington’s much-respected stable in Ireland. Life Of Dreams, a fairly distant runner-up behind Emily Upjohn in the Musidora at York last time, will also be popular as the winner there was narrowly beaten in the Oaks next time up.
It may come down to the two principals, though, and while Sea Silk Road has done nothing wrong so far this year, the form of Magical Lagoon has a more solid feel to it. She was a short-head behind Concert Hall at Navan last time, and the winner there went on to run third in the Irish Guineas while the third and fourth both won next time up.
Selection: MAGICAL LAGOON
1 Secret State (W Buick) 4-1 Jt Fav
2 Deauville Legend (Daniel Muscutt) 14-1
3 Israr (Jim Crowley) 11-2
4 Savvy Knight (James Doyle) 18-1
Also: 4-1 Jt Fav Post Impressionist
Andrew Fisher has been regularly featured over the years on TV coverage of Royal Ascot for his hats — now he’s been turned away!
And they’re off … Achnamara and Secret State get a fast start with the latter grabbing the lead … Berkshire Rebel is at the back … Franz Strauss now takes up the lead under Frankie Dettori … Vina Sena makes a big move into second … Israr is there too … Secret State hits the front with Israr and Deauville Legend challenging, but Secret State holds on.
- Post Impressionist – 4/1
- Secret State – 9/2
- Israr – 13/2
- Newfoundland – 8/1
- Deuville Legend – 14/1
- Mandobi – 14/1
- Yashin – 14/1
- Flying Dolphin – 14/1
- Savvy Knight – 20/1
- Surrey Mist – 25/1
- Franz Strauss – 25/1
- Vina Sena – 33/1
- Schmilsson – 33/1
- Full betting at Oddschecker
I think Hugh Taylor, the At The Races pundit, could well be right and that opening race at Royal Ascot would well be a watershed moment in the “dangerous riding debate”
This ultra-competitive handicap has taken a big jump in the running order, not least with an eye on the big money swirling around in the Hong Kong-based World Pool, which has become a major revenue earner for Ascot. The time switch ensures that the race will go off before midnight in Asia, and the punters in Hong Kong will find this difficult to resist. Quite a few of the runners are making their debut in a handicap, including Post Impressionist, the likely favourite, and second pick Secret State, both of whom are also trying this mile-and-a-half trip for the first time.
That pair are due to be ridden by Danny Tudhope and William Buick, who start the day with three and two winners this week, so it could be prove to have been a key race when the jockeys’ prize is totted up at the end of the meeting. Newfoundland, who ran over 13 furlongs (or a mile and five) at Navan last time, is also prominent in the betting for the Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore combo, while Israris more exposed in handicaps – he’s run in two already – but looked to have considerable room for improvement when winning at Newbury last time. A 6lb rise is bearable and he looks like the way to go.
The trainers of the second and third are very unhappy with that result and this one will run and run … (John Berry is a Newmarket trainer and his tweet is pretty forthright)
We are now seeing live pictures from the stewards’ room on ITV. Plenty of disquiet about this result but, in fact, the stewards have decided the first-placed horse isn’t affected so the jockeys won’t be brought in for an official inquiry involving them.
Look at this bit of evidence …
Here’s the head-on from the first race. It’s fair to say there’s plenty of controversy over this as many think the rules in this country now are encouraging dangerous riding.
1 The Ridler (P Hanagan) 50-1
2 Walbank (Rossa Ryan) 7-4 Fav
3 Crispy Cat (S De Sousa) 7-1
Also: 6-1 Brave Nation 4th
Non Runner: 5
The Ridler has won but there’s an inquiry after that race as the winner went across the field … there was a riding offence and it’s liklely winning jockey Paul Hanagan will be getting a five-to-seven day ban. The big question for the stewards is whether the interference was sufficient to change the result. Hanagan tells ITV racing: “I don’t think [the other jockeys] have had to be stop riding so I think I’ll be fine.” Steve Cauthen, the American jockey who rode here, says he thinks the winner would have been thrown out if this race was in the United States.
And they’re off … Bakeel, Walbank and Crispy Cat are prominent … Jungle Fever showing speed … The Riddler takes the lead, goes onto win and that’s a massive shock already on this Gold Cup day!
- Wallbank – 7/4
- The Antarctic – 9/2
- Brave Nation – 7/1
- Pillow Talk – 8/1
- Crispy Cat –10/1
- Bakeel – 11/1
- Redemption Time – 20/1
- Thunder Moor – 33/1
- The Ridler – 50/1
- Jungle Fever – 125/1
- Full Oddschecker betting
Perfect Power, who prevailed in a blanket finish for last year’s Norfolk Stakes, went on to win two Group One races later in the campaign and it will be no surprise if the latest winner proves to be just as good as this looks like a very warm renewal on paper. The Antarctic is the one that leaps off the page on breeding as he is a full-brother to the mighty sprinter Battaash, while Walbank was second to the highly promising Noble Style – who missed this meeting after suffering a setback – on debut and then bolted up in his next race at York.
Those two head the market but there is a long list of contenders with the potential to improve past them, including Brave Nation, Pillow Talk, Bakeel and Crispy Cat. I’ll be taking a chance that Karl Burke, who took the opener yesterday with Dramatised, can continue his hot streak with Pillow Talk, the only filly in the field. She improved significantly for her debut to win a race at York’s Dante meeting which was packed with previous winners and gets a potentially useful 3lb from the colts.
Selection: PILLOW TALK
Here’s your racecard for this afternoon:
- 2.30pm – Norfolk Stakes (Group 2), Class 1, 5f
- 3.05pm – King George V Stakes (Heritage Handicap), Class 2, 1m 4f
- 3.40pm – Ribblesdale Stakes, Class 1, 1m 4f
- 4.20pm – Gold Cup (Group 1), Class 1, 2m 4f
- 5pm – Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap), Class 2, 1m
- 5.35pm – Hampton Court Stakes, Class 1, 1m 2f
- 6.10pm – Buckingham Palace Stakes (Handicap), Class 2, 7f
The Queen will not be attending Royal Ascot for Thursday’s Gold Cup, according to reports, despite the card also featuring the Hampton Court Stakes in which the Queen’s colt, Reach For The Moon, will start as odds-on favourite.
Reach For The Moon is top-priced at 4-9 to win his race at 5.35pm, 75 minutes after the field sets off for the Gold Cup, the most prestigious and historic race at the Royal meeting.
If successful, Reach For The Moon will be the Queen’s first winner at the Royal meeting since Tactical won the Windsor Castle Stakes in 2020. He in turn ended a four-year wait for the monarch at her favourite meeting, after Dartmouth survived a stewards’ inquiry to win the Hardwicke Stakes.
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall have taken the Queen’s place in the leading carriage of the Royal procession over the first two days of the meeting, but the Princess Royal will lead the procession today with her husband, Sir Tim Laurence, and her daughter and son-in-law, Zara and Mike Tindall.
My First Rodeo (No5) is a non-runner in the 2.30pm race.
Even though the Queen is set to be absent there is still the strong likelihood of at least one royal winner today in the shape of Reach For The Moon (5.35pm), which the folks at horse.bet in a rather frothy press release (while stating that if Sage [5.00pm] and Tactical [6.10pm] win for Her Majesty as well that’s a tasty 99-1 treble) tell me has been the best-backed horse of the week. Patriotic punters have clearly latched onto the wager as the market leader in the Hampton Stakes, who was 4-7 when betting opened is now an unbackable 2-5. All the national newspaper tipsters are predicting a royal victory aside from the Daily Mirror and, er, the Guardian. Make of that what you will!
Looking at that Royal Procession list it does rather beg the question again as to when the royal family and Royal Ascot will make its way into the 20th, never mind the 21st century, and modernise. In the first carriage, for instance, is Mrs Mike Tindall, or Zara as she is known in the real world.
The Princess Royal
Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence
Mr. Mike Tindall
Mrs. Mike Tindall
Mr. Daniel Chatto
The Lady Sarah Chatto
The Viscount Brookeborough
The Viscountess Brookeborough
The Duke of Bedford
The Duchess of Bedford
Sir Johnny Weatherby
Mr. Martin St. Quinton
Mrs. Martin St. Quinton
Mr. John Warren
The Lady Carolyn Warren
It’s almost that time again … the royal procession down the track is back at about 2pm (after being seen for the first time since 2019 yesterday) and we can expect the details of who will be in it at midday. The Queen is again a doubtful runner at Ascot this afternoon according to reports this morning.
This, of course, is also the time when I mention the Serpentine gallery exhibition by artist Mark Wallinger I saw back in 1994 when one of his installations, called ‘Royal Ascot’, consisted of a series of video monitors on top of wheeled flight cases, each isolating the royal carriage’s leisurely progress down the track on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (respectively, as it was then) of the meeting with the added TV commentary.
The point Wallinger was making is that the difference from day to day was barely discernible but what has been different this week has been the absence of the Queen.
2.30pm Norfolk Stakes
5 My First Rodeo (Vet’s Cert – Not Sound)
4.20pm Gold Cup
4 Trueshan (Going)
Spoiler alert … it’s the same.
The official going for day three of Royal Ascot is Good to Firm with the GoingStick readings at 8am:
Stands side: 8.8
Far side: 8.6
So the stands (nearside) is marginally faster (the higher the number the quicker the surface) but there is very little in it.
The current forecast for the week indicates a dry week through to Saturday with temperaturs of 26c today due to rise to over 30c on Friday. There is currently a risk of thunderstorms on Saturday. For live weather station and going info please go to: www.ascot.co.uk/thegoing
The whole track had 4mm of water splashed on following racing on Wednesday. It is likely, as long as the forecast remains settled, that Ascot will water after racing each evening to replace moisture lost through evapotranspiration (!!!).
The Racing Post are reporting that the Queen, who normally presents the trophy on Gold Cup day and has an odds-on favourite set to run in Reach For The Moon in the Hampton Court Stakes, will not be at Royal Ascot today.
Good morning from Ascot on the most famous and historic day of the Royal meeting, and quite possibly the only afternoon this year when the Queen might be in attendance. The Gold Cup on Ladies’ Day is the undoubted highlight of the week and this year’s race will see one of the most popular horses in training, Stradivarius, attempting to win the big race for a record-equalling fourth time.
No horse had won the Gold Cup four times in a history that dates back to 1807 until Yeats reeled off four in a row from 2006. But Stradavarius would, in his way, be more remarkable still if he could get his fourth out of five, because keeping an “entire” – or ungelded – horse sufficiently interested to produce his best form at the age of eight is a mightily difficult task for a trainer.
Stradavarius was an odds-on shot for this race last year but came up short against against a talented and rapidly-improving young stayer in Subjectivist. It is a similar story this time around, as Kyprios, a four-year-old from the Aidan O’Brien stable, is his biggest rival on form, although Kyprios is likely to set off as favourite with Stradivarius only second-pick in the market. Trueshan, incidentally, is a non-runner due to the fast ground, which is the least surprising news of the week.
Whether the Queen will be at her racecourse to watch remains to be seen, but there is a big incentive to make the short trip from Windsor Castle as her colt Reach For The Moon will set off at odds-on for the Hampton Court Stakes at 5.35. He was seen as a possible runner in the Derby over the winter but John Gosden could not get him ready in time after an injury curtailed his juvenile campaign. Reach For The Moon made a satisfactory return to action in the Heron Stakes at Kempton last month, however, finishing one-and-a-quarter lengths behind My Prospero, who was not far away in the St James’s Palace Stakes here on Tuesday.
This could also be “moving day” in the contests to end the week as the leading trainer and rider, though Danny Tudhope will be very pleased with his week’s work so far.
Tudhope tops the jockeys’ table with three wins, one ahead of William Buick and James McDonald. He also has the ride on Post Impressionist, the favourite, in the King George V Handicap this afternoon, and a couple more at single-figure odds on Saturday. As for the trainers, the 14 races so far have been won by 14 different stables, and Gosden, as yet, is not among them.
Temperatures are set to climb at the track again today, with a forecast high of 27C in mid-afternoon, so don’t forget the Factor 50 if you’re heading to the track. If not, you can follow all the Ladies’ Day action here on the live blog, and there are some thoughts about what might – repeat, might – be winning here.
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