SADLY there is no Yeats in this afternoon’s Ascot Gold Cup which means that there will be a new name engraved on the base of the trophy for the first time in five years. Aidan O’Brien will be hoping that Age Of Aquarius can fill the hoof prints left by his former stablemate, but he has plenty to prove and is just 9/2 with William Hill.
Henry Cecil will be hoping for his sixth winner of this prestigious race when he saddles the well-fancied market leader Manifest. The four-year-old son of Rainbow Quest was mightily impressive when waltzing away with a weak looking Yorkshire Cup last time and heads the betting at 3/1 with Paddy Power. However, he is by no means a guaranteed stayer and will be running over this marathon trip for the first time this afternoon.
The two that interest me are Sir Michael Stoute’s ASK and Spanish raider BANNABY. The former won the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom last season and looks sure to run a huge race, if staying the trip, at 6/1. He runs best when fresh (won on seasonal reappearance for the last three years) and will be having his first run of the campaign tomorrow.
Bannaby is one of the only true stayers in the race and is a massive price at 25/1 with William Hill and Paddy Power.
Henry Candy’s DINKUM DIAMOND looked something special when winning the National Stakes at Sandown last time. He beat Chilworth Lad that day, who ran well to finish a staying on fifth in the Windsor Castle on Tuesday, and I’ve been impressed with his mentality on both his career starts.
The Ribblesdale looks very difficult, but I give PIPETTE a decent chance of notching her third career win. Andrew Balding’s daughter of Pivotal disappointed when drawn on the wrong side of the track in the 1,000 Guineas, but she bounced back to form at Goodwood last time, finishing second to Oaks heroine Snow Fairy. The step up in trip is certain to suit and at a double-figure price she is a decent each-way proposition.
The Britannia Handicap is always one of the most difficult puzzles to unravel at Royal Ascot and this year looks no different. Andrew Balding has a good chance with Balducci who has done nothing but improve this season, but I’m going to take a chance with Barry Hills’ RANSOM NOTE. He was backed as if defeat was out of the question at Newmarket last time, but found one too good in Business As Usual. His trainer has always thought the world of him and I’d fancy him to reverse the placings with Michael Jarvis’ runner. He could be very well-handicapped.
Finally, Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore can combine to take the concluding King George V Stakes with LONDON STRIPE. He looked good on his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket and is the type his master trainer does very well with.
DINKUM DIAMOND 2.30pm Royal Ascot
PIPETTE e/w 3.05pm Royal Ascot
ASK 3.50pm Royal Ascot
BANNABY e/w 3.50pm Royal Ascot
RANSOM NOTE e/w 4.25pm Royal Ascot
LONDON STRIPE 5.35pm Royal Ascot