Thursday’s Royal Ascot Tips: London Gold Cup eyecatcher is worth another go

21 June 2023

Day two featured a number of shocks, including Mostahdaf’s mind-boggling victory in the St James’s Palace and Rogue Millennium's impressive strike in the Duke Of Cambridge. Hopefully Thursday’s fare is a little kinder to punters.

2.30 Ascot, Group 2 Norfolk Stakes

I can’t wait to see American Rascal perform against our best two-year-old sprinters. Wesley Ward’s juvenile broke the clock on debut at Keeneland and did it in a manner only a superstar could. He’s not your typical sizable two-year-old from the US - he’s got a much slighter frame - but that doesn’t mean he’s any less powerful.

His exceptionally pedigree suggests that turf should be fine and I don’t have any worries about the slight stretch out in trip. I would genuinely love to see him win and negatives are hard to find after Crimson Adventure ended the losing streak of US-trained runners at this meeting on Wednesday, but there is a good chance that he is going to bump into an exceptional home challenger in Elite Status.

I was at Sandown when Karl Burke’s charge won the National Stakes and I was taken aback by the way he stretched clear of what looked to be a good field. He achieved an RPR of 108 for that success - a performance that would have won the last 10 renewals of this race - and Burke later went on to say that he wasn’t anything like tuned up.

If there’s more improvement to come, which sounds and looks pretty likely, he is going to take a lot of stopping in what I believe is a two-horse affair. Elite Status is priced accordingly, but there is a chance that he boasts a similar level of talent to Perfect Power (2021 winner) and Dutch Art (2006 winner) at this stage of their careers. 

Selection: Elite Status @ 2.44

4.20 Ascot, Group 1 Gold Cup

This year’s renewal of the Ascot Gold Cup is pretty weak. As a result, Coltrane tops the market due to recency bias and proven course form rather than superior talent to his rivals. He’s what many would call the ‘solid option’ in an otherwise confusing contest.

Coltrane can win this race - of course he can - but I don’t want any part of 3/1 on a horse who is eminently beatable. Last year’s St Leger winner Eldar Eldarov is slightly more appealing given his unexposed profile and proven top-level form, but he has major stamina concerns over this extensive trip and might be begging for the line with two furlongs to run.

This just looks like a race where you should take a punt on a longer-priced runner like Echoes In Rain, Courage Mon Ami or Subjectivist. I ended up plumping for the latter on the basis that he has already proven he is more than capable of plundering this contest courtesy of his 2021 romp. 

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then - he had a bad leg injury that kept him off the track for 618 days for a start - but I liked his recent effort at Meydan and anything like his best would see him take top spot. I’m willing to risk that he refinds that kind of performance at a double-figure price.

Selection: Subjectivist @ 10.5

5.35 Ascot, Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes

Both of George Strawbridge’s runners have strong claims in this. Epictetus was placed in Group 1 company at two and now takes a marked drop in class following a fifth-placed finish in the French Derby, while Torito showcased a wicked turn of foot at Epsom last time and might be ready to take the step up in grade.

However, I’m going to reluctantly oppose both in favour of Roger Varian’s Exoplanet. This son of Sea The Stars has taken a while to come to hand as he was originally considered to be a Derby prospect, but his reappearance second behind the 110-rated Military Order was highly promising (third has hacked up since off 96) and I thought he ran the best race in the London Gold Cup last time despite finishing third.

Exoplanet was poorly positioned in that race and lost his footing when he attempted to jump some litter just over two furlongs from home. Nevertheless, he rapidly progressed from last to third and only succumbed to more efficiently-ridden rivals late in the day. The runner-up (Bold Act) reopposes, but I fancy Exoplanet to comfortably reverse the form off these terms.

Selection: Exoplanet @ 8

6.10 Ascot, Buckingham Palace Stakes

I’m going to take two against the field in Thursday’s finale: Rhoscolyn and Silent Film. The former might not be overly enticing given his recent form figures of 00800, but he’s had plenty of factors - too keen in a slow-run race and poorly drawn - go against him this season and he would be extremely competitive if he bounces back to his best.

Rhoscolyn finished third behind Inver Park in this event last year off 10lb higher despite not having any cover for much of the final three furlongs, and good to firm ground on this stiff track look to be his ideal conditions.

The second horse I’m interested in is Silent Film, who looked pretty useful early in his career before drawing a blank in five runs last term. He appeared to be performing at his best in his two most recent starts in Dubai, though, so it was a surprise to see Godolphin let him go for £120,000 at the sales just over two weeks ago.

Ian Williams, who interestingly owns him as well as trains him, is a shrewd operator and it’s entirely possible that Silent Film makes his mark of 100 look pretty lenient. Obviously it would take a massive effort to win this event on his first run in Britain for nearly nine months, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he plays a major role in the finish.

Selection: Rhoscolyn @ 17 each-way, Silent Film @ 34 each-way

Thursday’s Royal Ascot Tips

Elite Status (2.30 Royal Ascot) @ 2.44
Subjectivist (4.20 Royal Ascot) @ 10.5
Exoplanet (5.35 Royal Ascot) @ 8
Rhoscolyn (6.10 Royal Ascot) @ 17 each-way
Silent Film (6.10 Royal Ascot) @ 34 each-way

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