Royal Ascot Day Three Preview
Norfolk Stakes Group 2
Reckless Abandon can give his trainer, Clive Cox, his third Royal Ascot victory. The two-year-old created an excellent impression when making a winning debut in a Doncaster maiden over 5f a month ago. Reckless Abandon showed good speed throughout on Town Moor, accelerated clear under hands and heels riding and would have won by more than two lengths but for running green in the closing stages.
Mick Channon is no stranger to success in the juvenile races at Royal Ascot and the footballer-turned-trainer’s progressive Bahamian Bounty colt Cay Verde, who followed up winning a maiden over the course and distance in mid-May by landing a Listed contest at the Curragh in comfortable fashion two weeks later, should go well.
Selection: RECKLESS ABANDON
Ribblesdale Stakes Group 2
Shirocco Star, The Fugue and Vow, second, third and fourth to Was in the Investec Oaks could meet again. Many will fancy The Fugue to come out on top this time as John Gosden’s filly got involved in scrimmaging at Epsom and finished strongly after turning into the straight with only a couple of rivals behind her. However, she has what her trainer describes as “ballerina feet” and she could be inconvenienced if the going comes up soft.
The Hughie Morrison-trained Shirocco Star won’t mind if there is ease in the ground but it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see William Haggas’ Vow gain her revenge on the fillies that finished in front of her in the Oaks. Vow handles good ground well but was clearly at home on a soft surface when making a winning debut at Newbury in the spring and, with just three races under her belt, she should have plenty of improvement in her.
Gold Cup (British Champions Series) Group 1
Last year’s first and second, Fame And Glory and Opinion Poll, have shown themselves as good as ever this season and are sure to go well again, but the stayers’ crown can go to the new kid on the block, Saddler’s Rock.
The only time that the John Oxx-trained four-year-old has run over further than 1m6f he beat Opinion Poll by four lengths in the 2m2f Doncaster Cup and the way he stormed up the Town Moor straight that day suggested he would relish the extra 2f he has to cover here.
Oxx, who won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1999 with Enzeli, was very pleased with the way Saddler’s Rock finished his race when a closing second to the race-fit and in-form mare Midnight Soprano in the Listed Savel Beg Stakes at Leopardstown in his prep race this month.
Selection: SADDLER’S ROCK
Britannia Stakes Heritage Handicap
Trader Jack can prove the answer to this conundrum. The Trade Fair colt has been brought along in typically patient style by his trainer, Roger Charlton. He showed plenty of promise as a juvenile and was a very easy winner of a Ffos las maiden in November on the second of his two starts last year.
He needed the race badly and found the muddy conditions too much when beaten a long way on his reappearance at Sandown in April but left that form way behind on his most recent outing in a 1m2f handicap at Goodwood where he cruised into the lead with 3f to run but was unable to hold the late challenge of the highly regarded Grandeur.
The return to a mile should suit Trader Jack.
Michael Bell has a good opinion of his runaway Doncaster maiden winner Born To Surprise and the Exceed And Excel colt, who was eighth in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket last time, is another with serious claims.
Selection: TRADER JACK each-way
Tercentenary Stakes Group 3
Sir Michael Stoute’s Tales Of Grimm should go well in the 1m2f contest for three-year-olds. The American-bred colt showed considerable potential when winning a well-contested Newbury maiden last year. Connections were considering him for the 2,000 Guineas in the spring but he didn’t come to himself in time to run in the first Classic at Newmarket.
He made his seasonal bow in a well-contested Listed race over 1m at Sandown at the end of May and finished a running-on third to Cogito. That effort suggested he would enjoy this step up in trip.
Tales Of Grimm will need to improve to beat Stipulate, who was second at Sandown and is 5lb better off, but the combination of the longer trip and the fact Stipulate had already had a couple of races this year should help him reverse the form.
Stipulate’s stable companion Wrotham Heath could be a bigger danger as he will be ridden by Sir Henry Cecil’s number one jockey Tom Queally.
Selection: TALES OF GRIMM
King George V Stakes Heritage Handicap
Several of the entries for this 1m4f handicap have alternative engagements but it’s Uriah Heap’s only opportunity and Ryan Moore is set to take the ride. Uriah Heap has shown plenty of promise and he’s potentially well handicapped on a mark of 90. He began his career by finishing fifth in a juvenile maiden at Newmarket at the end of last season and he ran the Derby seventh Minimise Risk to a head in another maiden when reappearing at Newbury in April.
He was well beaten in the Dee Stakes at Chester on his other start but the winner was Derby third Astrology and the going on the Roodee was very testing. It would be no surprise if Uriah Heap attracted market support as the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt’s owners include John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derek Smith, who are known to enjoy a tilt at the ring.
David Simcock’s Ghost Protocol could go well at a good price. The gelding suggested the 1m4f of this race would suit when a running-on third in a strongly contested 1m2f handicap at Goodwood last time.
Selection: URIAH HEAP