A day for the stayers as we reach the half-way point of the Royal meeting; Thursday features the 1m4f Ribblesdale Stakes, an unofficial ‘Ascot Oaks’, the King George V Handicap and the two-and-a-half mile feature race, the prestigious Ascot Gold Cup.

Day 3 Schedule

14:30 Norfolk Stakes (Group 2)
15:05 Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3)
15:40 Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2)
16:20 Gold Cup (Group 1)
17:00 Britannia Stakes (Handicap)
17:35 King George V Stakes (Handicap)

Norfolk Stakes – 14:30

Just as day 2’s Queen Mary Stakes is the top five-furlong race for the two-year-old fillies, this is the equivalent for the juvenile colts and while often young horses go on to move up in trip, this is a great supplier of top-class future sprinters.

Serious pace is needed here which is why it’s no surprise that Wesley Ward has won this twice, once with now top-class sire No Nay Never and more recently with Shang Shang Shang.

Norfolk Stakes 2019 Favourites

Sunday Sovereign

Emerging superpower owners King Power have bought into this Irish-trained colt and if the ground doesn’t become too fast, he will be a major player.  He is as short as 4/1 in the lead-up to the festival anyway and will attract the majority of bets if lining up.

Maven

Wesley Ward is back and could follow-up last year’s win with this general 6/1 shot.  He does have plenty of stamina in his bloodline which is a concern in the context of this race, though he won over 4½ furlongs on debut.  Annas Fast and Ventura Rebel also feature prominently in the betting.

Hampton Court Stakes – 15:05

This is the joint-least valuable race on the card, but as a £90,000 event with Group 3 status it is more than just a supporting race and, in the past, has produced such winners as Cannock Chase and Group 1 performer Benbatl.

With connections looking at Group 1 and Listed events over this trip as well as potential mile-and-a-half targets, the field is never known for the Hampton Court until pretty much the last minute though it’s hoped that betting is competitive.

Ribblesdale Stakes – 15:40

Affectionately known as the Ascot Oaks, this race doesn’t hold the same Group 1 title as the main event at Epsom but often placed horses from there reappear here over the same mile-and-a-half trip.

Whatever wins this will need to be a top-class filly, just as Miletrian, Coronet and Magic Wand were when they took this race in recent times.

Ribblesdale 2019 Favourites

Manuela De Vega

Ralph Beckett’s filly could represent the Epsom form having run well to finish close up there, though she was beaten comfortably enough by Mehdaayih before that and needs to improve overall.

Mehdaayih

An impressive winner at Chester before looking unlucky in the Oaks, if John Gosden’s filly shows up she will be extremely popular and that seems likely now with stablemates Anapurna and Entitle saved for alternative targets.  She is around 5/1 going into the meeting.

Queen Power
Having skipped the Oaks following her trial victory at Newbury back in May, Sir Michael Stoute’s daughter of Shamrdal will be fit and fully rested for this assignment and may prove tough to beat as the projected 3/1 favourite.

Gold Cup – 16:20

The fact that this race was inaugurated back in 1807, is over an extreme distance of two-and-a-half miles and is worth £500,000 means the Gold Cup is what Thursday is all about at Ascot.

Those to have won this race more than once include Sagaro, Ardross, Royal Rebel and Yeats and all wrote their names into racing folklore and the time may be coming for Stradivarius to join them.

Gold Cup 2019 Favourites

Cross Counter

At a best-priced 5/1 Charlie Appleby’s horse is no doubt in with a chance, and he arrives at this meeting as the current Dubai Gold Cup champion.  He will need to step up a little to beat the favourite one would think.

Dee Ex Bee

Royal Rebel’s trainer Mark Johnston rightly sees this horse as his best Gold Cup chance since 2002.  The 6/1 shot has shown a real liking for staying trips but possesses class as well given that he was the Derby runner-up last season.

Stradivarius

Not beaten for a year-and-a-half, Strad won the inaugural Stayers Million last year and is so far in line for a repeat after looking better than ever when taking the Yorkshire Cup in May.  The rightful 6/4 favourite, he will need something to go wrong if the others are to take his crown.

Britannia Stakes – 17:00

This is essentially the Royal Hunt Cup for three-year-olds; another 30-runner one-mile handicap and the keenest betting heat of the day.  It’ll take a very well-handicapped horse to win this race and its competitiveness is shown by the fact that the last trainer to win it twice in a row was the master John Gosden back in 2000-2001.

Britannia 2019 Favourite

Velorum

Charlie Appleby’s colt is the early front-runner, but even he is 10/1 and so many more horses will be in with a shout with entries not confirmed until two days before the race.

King George V Stakes – 17:35

With £90,000 up for grabs this competitive handicap event is more than just a quiet day-closer.  Mark Johnston will no doubt have a strong hand in the race, as he has in previous years with six wins including last year’s hero Baghdad.  Any entries from Sir Michael Stoute’s yard should also be noted.

Betting on Day 3 of Royal Ascot

The £120,000 Britannia Stakes is the main betting event of the day for those who are looking for serious value, but many a win double will fall if Stradivarius can’t do the business in the Gold Cup at 4.20 either.

Royal Ascot betting offers should be found in abundance when it comes to the feature race and, as always, make sure you take the early prices to try and lock in some value before things inevitably change as the day wears on.

Conclusion

Let’s not take for granted that we could witness Stradivarius become an official racing great should he win back-to-back Gold Cups, and in doing so under Frankie Dettori he would be part of an amazing Ascot story but with that comes bad value in the markets.

In terms of sheer class, whatever filly wins the Ribblesdale Stakes could well be the horse we look back on as the best we’ve seen on day three so that is not a race to be missed either.