We’re finally due to get some lasting periods of sun at Ascot on Thursday and given the famously good drainage at the course we could see good racing conditions.
If the ground does come up something like good summer flat ground then the best form in the book will easily stand up to scrutiny, but if the clouds and the associated soft ground persist then it will pay to know in advance which horses are expected to put their best foot forward in the easy underfoot conditions.
The effect of soft ground on racing results was very evident on the opening day of this meeting when confirmed soft ground lover Addeybb showed his very best form in scorching home to win the Wolferton Stakes and here we name four more horses for Thursday’s Gold Cup card who are worth watching if things stay the same.
Sunday Sovereign (Norfolk Stakes)
The opening race is a five furlong dash for the juveniles, but despite it being a speed test it would take some getting in easy conditions.
Paddy Twomey trains this bay colt who is clear favourite for the race now, primarily because of his easy success over Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes winner Arizona. The key piece of form in this context though is his last time out success at Tipperary on soft ground where he seemed to enjoy things, winning by seven lengths.
King Ottokar (Hampton Court Stakes)
Well beaten behind Sir Dragonet at Chester, although that form is working out incredibly well, but before that he was a slightly surprising winner at Newbury on soft ground which was the key to him.
In that race he beat Dashing Willoughby, the Queen’s Vase winner here on Wednesday after landing a big gamble, Space Blues, now rated 110 and set to contest the Jersey Stakes and Headman who went on to win the London Gold Cup and is now rated 104.
Star Catcher (Ribblesdale Stakes)
John Gosden knows the time of day with good fillies, his Enable being the best in the world while Anapurna won this year’s Oaks.
Star Catcher has hardly any miles on the clock and is bound to improve and it’s prevalent that she won on her second outing in mightily impressive fashion when the ground was described as soft, clearing away by 4½ lengths.
Stradivarius (Gold Cup)
While the star stayer of his generation is not known for soft ground form, he did win on it at Ascot on Champions Day last October but more to the point it seems his chief opposition for the feature race don’t like it.
Cross Counter has done all his winning on faster ground while Dee Ex Bee’s form noticeably took a dip at Munich last year when conditions were this wet, though in fairness he has won on it at a lower level.