Sir Ron Priestley is among three bets bets for top commentator Simon Holt on Thursday's card at Royal Ascot.
WHEN the music stops at the end of Thursday's Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, many will expect last year's winner Stradivarius to pass the post first, and the absence of Kew Gardens has certainly helped clear the way.
With his stamina assured, he is hard to oppose but the odds are short and Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter and last year’s Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee have the talent to challenge - if they stay two and a half miles.
Aidan O’Brien’s Flag Of Honour, fourth to Stradivarius on Champions Day here last October also has potential.
Earlier, the master of Ballydoyle looks to have solid claims with CAPE OF GOOD HOPE in the Hampton Court Stakes.
Successful at Epsom in April after some solid two-year-old efforts, this Galileo full brother to Highland Reel and Idaho, made good late headway to finish fourth in the Prix Du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly subsequently, a race run in course record time.
This looks a more straightforward task and the stiff Ascot finish should suit him well.
Later, it could be the turn of Godolphin to strike in the always-competitive Britannia Handicap as VELORUM has looked a nice prospect.
The son of Sea The Stars, who cost 425,000 guineas as a two-year-old, was beaten by the smart Skardu first time out last season and has won both his races since, most impressively at Newmarket before justifying long odds-on favouritism at Yarmouth.
There are many others with chances in this massive field, but if there is a future Group horse waiting in the wings, it could be Velorum.
On a tough card, my only other fancy is for SIR RON PRIESTLEY in the closing King George V Handicap.
While a short priced favourite on both starts this season, the son of Australia has been winning in dominant fashion and could well develop into a St Leger contender.
Both the re-opposing Babbo’s Boy who he beat at Ripon and Lariat, who chased Sir Ron Priestley home at Haydock, have run well since and neither were able to trouble the selection.
With all respect to the up-in-trip Constantinople (looks a tricky ride), London Gold Cup runner-up Sinjaari and the promising Questionare who wears cheek-pieces for the first time, I think Sir Ron will take some stopping for trainer Mark Johnston who has won this race six times in the past including with Baghdad last year.
Preview posted at 1720 BST on 19/06/19