Gold Cup day is always very popular and racegoers are also served up two Group 2 races to kick things off on Thursday, with the Norfolk Stakes and Ribblesdale Stakes being televised on BBC1 (or a number of bookmaker sites) before coverage of the next three races continues on BBC2.
2.30 Norfolk Stakes
We have twelve horses entered for this five-furlong contest and Annunciation looks set to go off as favourite, with the Richard Hannon horse claiming victory at Windsor three weeks ago and Richard Hughes could go close on the two-year-old.
Cay Verde has a slightly higher Racing Post Rating and Mick Channon has high hopes for a horse which has won on this Ascot track before, claiming victory a month ago when winning a Maiden Stakes before heading over to Ireland for another win which could mean the horse goes off favourite.
3.05 Ribblesdale Stakes
Another competitive heat before the Gold Cup although The Fugue has been well backed leading up to Royal Ascot and is currently available at 15/8 (Ladbrokes free bets) to claim the spoils here, despite winning once in three outings this term.
The John Gosden-trained charge ran third in the Oaks and she was less than a length behind winner Was that day, so perhaps we should keep faith with the horse although there might be one or two that are too good on the day.
Shirocco Star could easily make the frame and 11/2 seems a decent price about a horse that has finished second in the Oaks after another second place finish at Newbury, with more to come from this Hughie Morrison runner.
Vow is also 11/2 and was involved in that Oaks finish when finishing 4th, while Momentary runs for the Queen and actually beat Shirocco Star in her penultimate run before the Oaks.
3.45 Gold Cup
Nine horses are entered for this Group 1 encounter, although there are only four that have a reasonable chance of winning and all eyes will be on Fame and Glory to see if the six-year-old can oblige at short odds.
Aidan O’Brien’s charge has been shortening in the betting over the past few days despite just one run this season where Unaccompanied was touched off by a neck in Navan and a repeat performance may be enough to oblige at 11/10 (Ladbrokes).
There are three horses that also stand a real chance and that includes Opinion Poll, who is one of two Godolphin horses in the race, with odds of 6/1 (bet365 £200 free bets) that this six-year-old wins for the third time running.
Colour Vision and Saddler’s Rock are the two four-year-olds with a real chance and the latter beat Unaccompanied recently which is decent form considering Fame and Glory did the same.