The Gold Cup (4.20) is the feature on another cracking day’s racing at the Royal Meeting and it’s a race I have been looking forward to for weeks.
Order of St George must be the starting point here, trained by Aiden O’Brien who has farmed this race since the turn of the decade with Yeats winning four times, Fame and Glory, Leading Light and indeed George winning in 2016.
Order was arguable unlucky last year, with a masterful front running ride from James Doyle on Big Orange thwarting Ryan Moore. Many good judges expressed that Ryan had given him too much to do and it’s been noticeable that he seems to have been ridden closer to the pace since.
Order of St George performed admirably in the L’arc de Triomphe at the back end of last season finishing a five and a half-length 4th to Enable and with two prep races this season going to plan must take all the beating.
Its excellent to see the French trained Vazirabad finally arrive on British shores after sticking to his homeland and several successful raids to Dubai. The gelding is a smashing horse, but travels so well and needs to be delivered late. I don’t personally think the unique test of the 2m 4furlongs at Ascot will suit and can see him running on empty late on.
The biggest fly in the ointment will no doubt be the flying John Gosden’s Stradivarius, who almost won the Leger last year and was tremendously impressive in the Yorkshire Cup at York in his preparation for this. My personal worry is the last gruelling two furlongs or so here, especially if they go a right pace. He will need to stay every yard to beat the 123 rated Order of St George, who is my confident selection to atone for last year.
In the Norfolk (2.30) we have the usual guess of how good the ‘always bullish’ Wes Ward charge is; he runs Shang Shang Shang , she certainly looked impressive on debut at Keenland but prefer Konchek who looked very smart on debut and was arguable unlucky not the win the National Stakes at Sandown after a tough trip from a bad draw.
The Hampton Court (3.05) looks devilishly difficult and a token selection would be Charlie Appleby’s Nordic Light, who ran better than his finishing position looked in the Dante
As long as it does not come too soon after the Oaks, you would have to fancy Wild Illusion to win the Ribblesdale at (3.40), two solid pieces of classic form should be enough down to a Group 2, despite her three-pound penalty.
I love the Britannia (5.00), despite the full field of thirty I am quite sweet on one here, Richard Hughes grey, George of Hearts. He really bumped into one the last run over the same course (7furlongs) and travelled like a very well handicapped horse. Up only 4lb and with the services of Jamie Spencer I think this will go very close indeed and is a sporting nap for me.
The last race is the King George Handicap (5.35) and the race looks tough with any number fancied, at a price I’ll take a chance on Corgi, who looked far from a dog last time at Sandown, looks feasible handicapped and has the services of the excellent Jim Crowley.
NAP – George of Hearts 5.00
NB – Order Of St George