RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from the third day of Royal Ascot.
15:40 Royal Ascot | Ribblesdale Stakes | ITV
The Ribblesdale is effectively Ascot’s Oaks and this looks wide open to me. Twelve fillies line up and I would only confidently write off a few of these; although I’m backing one available at double-figure odds.
Mori (5/2 Ladbrokes) is bred right off the top drawer and if this was ran on breeding alone, she would win by half the track. She’s promising and has won her last two starts, but this is tougher. She is bound to be popular in the betting but that just means some rivals will be overpriced and I’m prepared to take her on.
Naughty Or Nice (8/1 Betfred) won well on debut at big odds and proved that was no fluke when beating the colts in a Navan listed race. She clearly stays well but the drop in trip here shouldn’t be an issue given how well she travelled last time out. She is of interest but there is another that I have my eye on who could be slightly overlooked.
Astronomy’s Choice (10/1 Bet365) won her maiden in good style at Newmarket last October and comes from a trainer that has had an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fillies in recent years.
She was sent off odds-on for the Pretty Polly where she disappointed but it’s worth noting the two who beat her were seen as good enough to run in the Oaks. Given time to recover and strengthen, I think she will put that form behind her here and is a very interesting runner.
17:00 Royal Ascot | Britannia Stakes | ITV
The Britannia is a 32-runner handicap which some people absolutely love but it looks a bit of a nightmare to find the winner. The draw can prove vital and I’m going to take two on vs the field, one drawn either side but this is more in hope than expectation.
Of the high numbers I’m going to back Horroob (20/1 Bet365). A winner of two from four, both wins were on the all-weather but there is nothing to suggest he won’t win races on turf so far.
Last time at Goodwood he never really settled before running on at one pace. He should appreciate the extra distance here and the big field should give him the pace to chase and see him settle better. His trainer and jockey are both in form and half of my stake for this race will be going on him.
From the low numbers I’m going to take a chance on there being a Royal winner in the shape of Maths Prize (22/1 Betfair). A promising juvenile, he won two of his four races, and already has a win over a mile to his name.
He’s only ran once this season and that turned out to be a very hot race. Third in that was the subsequent Oaks winner and the winner of the race also went on to place in the French version, so this will be a lot easier. He was conceding weight to both, and the drop in trip and fast pace could be ideal. I think he’s a little overpriced.
17:35 Royal Ascot | King George V Stakes | ITV
The King George V handicap is for three year-olds over a mile-and-a-half with 22 runners and after this, I think the racecourse commentator will be going straight for a lie down. This looks competitive but there is one in here I like.
Master Singer (8/1 SkyBet) won his maiden by a distance rarely seen on the flat and is definitely of interest. He is well related and could prove better than a handicapper but the race he won is a country mile away from Royal Ascot and I’m looking elsewhere.
Mark Johnston normally comes away with at least one Royal Ascot winner and this race has a habit of producing it; he has three running in it. Sofia’s Rock (9/1 SkyBet) looks the best of them and I think he could run really well. He loves fast ground and his front-running style will keep him out of trouble too. He could go close.
Utah (16/1 888) looks second string for Aidan O’Brien but I think he has a fantastic chance here. Bred to appreciate this trip and related to some talented horses, he could well improve significantly here.
He was seen good enough to run in a Group 1 as a juvenile and on his return he did his best work late on in a Group 3 over two furlongs shorter. His maiden win was on firm ground and with his return under his belt he appeals to me as an each-way selection.