Thursday at Royal Ascot: Garrity picks the Norfolk, Hampton Court, Ribbesdale and the 2.5 mile Gold Cup
Stradivarius, Europe's greatest distance horse, races in Royal Ascot's 2.5 mile Gold Cup.@Ascot on Twitter

Thursday at Royal Ascot: Garrity picks the Norfolk, Hampton Court, Ribbesdale and the 2.5 mile Gold Cup

First post is 9:30 am EDT. The great Stradivarius runs in the Gold Cup at 11:20 am, seeking his fourth straight win.

It’s Day 3 at Ascot, and just like the first two days, there are four terrific stakes races to lead off the card. The weather so far this week has been terrific, especially by English standards, and while the forecast for Thursday is a bit iffy, with showers and thunderstorms possible, it does not appear that enough rain will fall to affect the turf course much. So we are playing for the same good to firm conditions seen the last two days. With that out of the way, let’s go.

Royal Ascot, Race 1, 9:30 am ET

Group 2 Norfolk Stakes, 5 furlongs, Turf, 2-Year-Olds

Sixteen juveniles line up for the Norfolk. We like 14-Second Wind, a William Haggas trainee who is undefeated in two career starts. He won his career debut over similar going to what he will face here, and he showed speed in both his races, which is an asset in a race this short. He’ll need to improve to win this, but he seems a colt headed in the right direction, which makes his 10-1 morning line odds quite attractive. We will bet him to win. The bet: Ascot, Race 1, $30 to win on 14-Second Wind.

Royal Ascot, Race 2, 10:05 am ET

Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

One of the fun things to do with the big fields at the Royal Ascot meet is finding good horses at huge prices. But the Norfolk drew only 10, and we are eschewing prices for a real standout: 3-Mohaafeth, another Haggas entrant, who has won all three of his starts this year, the last an eye-popping win at Newmarket, when he won by five easy lengths, and did so in very fast time. He simply looks better than the rest of the field, and we are taking a page out of the Handicapping 101 playbook, which is to identify the best horse and bet him to win. We will do that with Mohaafeth, who is 6/5. The bet: Ascot, Race 2, $50 to win on 3-Mohaafeth.

Royal Ascot, Race 3, 10:40 am ET

Group 2 Ribbesdale Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 3-Year-O`ld Fillies

A baker’s dozen of sophomore fillies lines up for the Ribbesdale. The pick is 7-Gloria Mundi, who ran second in her last start, at Newbury on May 15, but other than the fact that she didn’t win, we like everything about what she did that day: she showed tenacity and guts in overcoming an eventful trip. The firmer turf is a bit of a question mark for her, as both her races were run over softer going, but she appears to have the natural ability to take a Group race, and having the sublimely skillful John Gosden as trainer is a huge plus. We will bet her to win at 7-1. The bet: Ascot, Race 3, $40 to win on 7-Gloria Mundi.

Royal Ascot, Race 4, 11:20 am ET

Group 1 Gold Cup, 2 ½ miles, Turf, 4 & Up

The Gold Cup is one of the world’s great distance races, and the 2021 edition will see 13 older horses go to the post. The headliner is 4-Stradivarius, an all-time great stayer who has won this race each of the last three years, an almost incomprehensible feat, and comes to Ascot in good form, having won his seasonal debut, a tuneup for this race in April, quite comfortably.

If there is potential for Stradivarius to be upset, it is the going, as he prefers a bit more cut in the ground than he will get at Ascot on Thursday. That, plus the fact that he figures to be a very short price, has us going with 3-Spanish Mission, who ran a new career best in his last start, when he a Group 2 race at York. He’s a 5-year-old, which is when these distance runners are typically in their prime, and at 10-1, we think he’s a terrific wager. We will bet him to win. The bet: Ascot, Race 4, $35 to win on 3-Spanish Mission.

That’s all for Thursday at Royal Ascot. We will be back tomorrow, so in the meantime, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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