AFTER quite a sensational Wednesday that included four winners and a place from five recommended selections, Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) is back with Royal Ascot Thursday picks here.
14.30 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Norfolk Stakes kicks-off Gold Cup Day and it's the polar opposite of the main event with a five-furlong dash for two-year-olds. It looks a decent renewal with only one of these yet to win a race.
The favourite here is set to be Global Applause (9/4 Bet365) who looks like a fiv- furlong specialist already. His defeat of Mehmas last time looks good after the runner-up ran well in the Coventry but I'm not sure if he deserves to be such a short price.
He may not get things his own way in front and the soft ground may blunt some of his speed. Though he may run well, I'm looking elsewhere for my selection.
Silver Line (7/2 Bet365) won a Nottingham maiden in good style on debut and his connections have a habit of sending some decent sorts to that track. He has been nibbled at in the market recently and looks a live contender here.
Wesley Ward sends over Red Lodge (13/2 Stan James) and this looks like another speedball that he trains. She was beaten in bizarre circumstances on debut and looks sure to be the pace angle here.
She may well just prove to be too fast for these and as we saw yesterday, European horses cannot deal with the early pace and I think she will run well. But I'm taking her on.
I'm going to take a chance on Peace Envoy (8/1 Ladbrokes) as an each-way bet. He doesn't strike me as a five-furlong specialist but I suspect the speed horses may cut each other's throats or just be burned out by Red Lodge and I expect Peace Envoy to be held up and run in to at least a place late on.
He was beaten on his second start but that was under a penalty and with his stable going well I think he can give Aidan O'Brien another Royal winner.
15.05 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Tencentenary Stakes is for three-year-old colts over 10 furlongs and it's a mix of horses stepping up and dropping down in trip. There are question marks about most of them whether it be ground, distance or quality but I'm quite sweet on one.
Blue De Vega (5/1 BetVictor) was a very good juvenile last season and on his two starts this year he has finished behind Awtaad and this looks an easier opportunity for him here.
He will handle the ground however I'm not convinced he is crying out for an extra two furlongs on a stiff track. He may well stay but his stamina will be tested here so I'm against him.
Long Island Sound (9/1 William Hill) is an unbeaten Ballydoyle inmate who looks sure to appreciate the extra distance however he is taking a huge step up in class.
He hasn't been tested yet and connections obviously felt he needed the experience before throwing him in at the deep end. He will run well but I don't think he's quite classy enough.
Hawksbill (5/1 Coral) comes here seeking a five-timer and had improved for every trip to the racecourse. He won a muddling race last time but he is progressive and deserves a shot at this race.
I expect him to run well and make the frame but I'm not sure he will confirm form with an old rival.
Abdon (4/1 Racebets) from the Sir Michael Stoute yard makes just his third start here but he looks a colt of real potential. Beaten by Hawksbill last time, he looked inexperienced and in a slowly run race he struggled to quicken.
There should be more pace here, he will be more streetwise now and I expect him to reverse that form and I think he will win this.
15.40 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Ribblesdale is a mile-and-a-half Group 2 for fillies and it sees the Oaks form on display with the runner-up Architecture lining up. But will she uphold the form?
Even Song (7/2 Bet365) trained by Aidan O'Brien was third in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket in the spring and I expect her to leave that form behind.
The yards’ fillies normally improve with time and I expect her to end up a very good filly in time. This may still be a bit early on in her career but she could go very well here.
Sovereign Parade (8/1 BetVictor) cost a small fortune and looked a good investment winning on debut. She is now stepped up significantly in class however trainer John Gosden knows when he has a good one so she must be useful.
She has drifted in the market lately and I think this might be too much for her today but again she's one for the future.
Architecture (11/4 Coral) ran a mighty race in the Oaks, and though she may be flattered by how close she got to Minding, when you look at the distances back to third and fourth then you realise she must be useful.
I didn't expect her to run as well as she did at Epsom but she showed herself to be very good and I'm not making that mistake again.
She had a hard race so it's a worry she won't be 100% but Hugo Palmer is showing himself to be the best young trainer around and has kept Galileo Gold fresh and I think he will get another big win here.
16.20 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The main event of the week, the Gold Cup and it looks a good renewal. Soft ground will have stamina at a premium but it looks like a case of who comes second today.
Order of St George (1/1 Bet365) is a monster. His performance in the Irish St Ledger last season was astonishing and he looks a cut above his rivals here.
He will like the ground and providing he stays he wins. Aidan O'Brien and the rest of Ballydoyle love this race and there are no better connections at readying a stayer and this has been a long-term plan.
He won well on his seasonal debut without requiring much effort and to me shaped like a horse who needs a trip now. I expect him to win but at evens, I'm going to take a chance on an each-way bet for some value.
Last time at Sandown Pallasator (16/1 BetVictor) beat Max Dynamite and after years of promising to deliver he looked an improved performer.
However, as much as he will relish the trip and looks better than ever, I expect Max Dynamite (9/1 Racebets) to reverse that form. He stays all day and that was his first start since the Melbourne Cup. I don't think either will win however.
I love Clever Cookie and it's possible this is what he's always wanted and will win the Gold Cup today, however I'm not sure if he will stay and again I'm not backing either of them.
The one I like here is the John Gosden-trained Flying Officer (10/1 Bet365). He is a six-year-old making just his 11th career start and I think he has more to come.
He was third behind Mizzou and Clever Cookie last time but he was conceding weight there and ran like he needed the race. I think he will stay, he will handle the ground and to me he is the each-way value in this race and the most likely benefactor if Order of St George doesn't perform.
17.00 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Brittania is one of the hardest handicaps to pick apart and this is a strange race to get a grip on as the best ground is on the far side of the track and all the fancied runners are drawn high.
This makes me think the field will clump together and could result in traffic problems, so I'm looking for a low-drawn runner who races prominently. So who fits the bill?
Above N Beyond (33/1 Bet365) has top weight to contend with but is a straightforward ride and is drawn very well.
He's dropping back to seven furlongs from a mile, might see this trip out better, and at a huge price, I am taking a chance on him here each-way but it's not a race I plan to get overly involved with.
14.30 Royal Ascot – Peace Envoy (8/1 each-way Ladbrokes)
15.05 Royal Ascot – Abdon (4/1 Racebets)
15.40 Royal Ascot – Architecture (11/4 Coral)
16.20 Royal Ascot – Flying Officer (10/1 each-way Bet365
17.00 Royal Ascot – Above N Beyond (33/1 each-way Bet365)