IT WAS Johnny Nash who sang about being able to see clearly now the rain has gone and hopefully racegoers will be met by glorious sunshine at Ascot today on Ladies’ Day.
The course has taken a drenching in recent days and even though it will now start to dry out, there will still be plenty of cut in the ground for the Gold Cup (4.20pm).
Last year’s winner STRADIVARIUS is just 6/5 with Coral to join a small but elite list of horses who have won the third day feature in consecutive seasons.
John Gosden’s five-year-old won the Queen’s Vase at this meeting back in 2017 and has only tasted defeat once in four visits to Ascot.
He has a tremendous attitude and it was his sheer tenacity that allowed him to repel the challenge of Vazirabad 12 months ago in a scintillating finish.
More often than not he looks beaten in his races, but he battles away and finds enough in reserve to hold all challengers at bay.
The most likely scenario is that he will add to his tremendous record at the track, but at the prices, and with plenty of give in the ground, I am prepared to take him on.
This looks a far better race than last season, with the dangers headed by Melbourne Cup winner CROSS COUNTER who is another rapidly improving with age.
It is remarkable to think that he could only finish fourth to Baghdad in the King George V Stakes here 12 months ago off a mark of 98, yet is now a Group One winner rated 20lbs higher.
There was plenty of give underfoot at Flemington when he rewrote the record books last November to become the first British trained winner of Australia’s biggest race, so the ground shouldn’t trouble him too much.
I guess the biggest worry is whether he will truly see out the extra half mile, but if he does, he may just be the one they all have to beat.
Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old is 9/2 with Ladbrokes to spoil Stradivarius’ party, but would definitely need any further rain to stay away.
Mark Johnston’s DEE EX BEE, who has been a revelation since upped to staying trips this campaign, is one horse who won’t mind further showers.
He showed plenty of guts to repel Mekong in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown when last seen in action last month, but that seems his way.
He is ridden by champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa this afternoon and they are the ideal pairing for a race of this nature.
Dee Ex Bee is a relentless galloper who needs a jockey prepared to work equally as hard in the saddle.
Plenty will get to Dee Ex Bee, but it is the getting past him that will be the hard part, and at a best-priced 6/1 with Ladbrokes he looks the value call to me.
Aidan O’Brien is bidding to land the prize for an eighth time and saddles three, headed by Flag Of Honour.
He steps up massively in distance and looks the most likely of the trio to get involved if staying the trip.
Called To The Bar flies the flag for France and won nicely at Longchamp last time.
This requires a huge step up, though, and he is another not guaranteed to relish the extra half mile.
Ian Williams has his team in great order, so if one was to hit the frame at a massive price it could easily be his former Chester Cup winner Magic Circle.
That’s certainly not out of the question, but he would need one of the leading protagonists to massively under-perform to reward each-way support.
BILL ESDAILE’S GOLD CUP 1-2-3
1 DEE EX BEE
3 CROSS COUNTER