RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) returns to share his best bets from Day 3 of the 2020 Royal Ascot festival.
Golden Gates Handicap | 1:15 Thursday | Royal Ascot | ITV
The first race of the card is a decent little three year-old handicap and not a race I would normally look to as a betting opportunity. However, there is one in here who has had the form of his last race heavily franked and could be a lot better than his opening mark of 97 for top connections.
Hypothetical (5/1 Bet365) won very well on debut at Chelmsford in December, and was next seen when sent off favourite for a Group 3 at Kempton at the start of the month. He was too keen for his own good that day, but the winner ran well under a penalty on Wednesday and the second won the King Edward stakes on Tuesday.
With the form looking like solid Group 2 form, his mark of 97 in a handicap could prove all wrong. The bigger field here should also help him settle and despite his inexperience I like him a lot. Trainer John Gosden is flying as is Frankie Dettori, so everything looks in place for a huge run.
Jersey Stakes | 2:25 Thursday | Royal Ascot | ITV
The Jersey Stakes is always an interesting race as it's a rare high-class renewal over seven furlongs. There is one in here that has what I look for in this race, raced at the top level over a mile and didn't quite get home, and I expect them to go very close.
Celestin (13/2 William Hill) comes over from France on the back of a fourth in the French Guineas where he led a furlong out, and I think he will improve for the drop to a stiff seven furlongs. He won twice over a mile on heavy ground as a two year-old, albeit at a lower level, but that shows he's not short of stamina.
At this level, Celestin looks like he doesn't want the mile and providing his low draw doesn't count against him as the field splits, I make him the one to beat here.
Gold Cup | 3:35 Thursday | Royal Ascot | ITV
The Gold Cup, and all eyes are on champion-stayer Stradivarius who is going for the hat-trick, and you'd be a brave man to think he won't win. However, there is a good each-way alternative and one that could be backed in the market without the favourite.
I feel Nayef Road (14/1 Bet365) is a very underrated horse. He's won five times from his 16 starts, and the only times he's disappointed has been when racing over shorter trips than ideal or on really soft ground. Make no mistake he is a classy horse.
Third in the St Ledger (same place Stradivarius filled three years ago) and won a decent Group 3 at Newcastle last time, I think Nayef Road will stay and in a race that lacks a little depth – he is the each-way play against the favourite.
1:15 Ascot – Hypothetical (5/1 Bet365_
2:25 Ascot – Celestin (13/2 William Hill)
3:35 Ascot – Nayef Road (14/1 each-way Bet365)