Selections for Thursday's features at Royal Ascot 2020

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

June 16th, 2020

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Like Wednesday's card, Thursday's action at Royal Ascot is heavier on handicaps rather than Group stakes. The story of the day will be Stradivarius' attempt at a threepeat in the meet highlight, the 2 1/2-mile Gold Cup (G1).

Race 3 -- Jersey (G3) -- 9:25 a.m. ET

1st -- Shadwell can continue to their streak of success this week in this 7-furlong test for 3-year-olds with #8 MOLATHAM (4-1), who owns an excellent piece of form having edged eventual Group 3 winner and 2000 Guineas (G1) runner-up Wichita in a minor stakes at Doncaster last September. Below-par fourth when favored in the Autumn (G3), racing far off the stands side rail which might have been the more favorable bit of the course. Still plenty of potential and upside.

2nd -- #4 KING LEONIDAS (7-2) the likely favorite for Gosden/Dettori with two victories in as many starts at Newmarket, the latest a tightener going a mile 11 days ago. Served notice he was a colt with a future winning at first asking in October and son of Kingman is an obvious danger.

3rd -- #13 SYMBOLIZE (20-1) perhaps a sneaky exotics inclusion for Andrew Balding. Lukewarm favorite for the Windsor Castle S. at this meet a year ago, the son of Starspangledbanner handled this straight course fine, possibly bidding a touch early but running well to be fourth by less than a length against a good field. Not as effective in his follow-up at Goodwood in the Richmond S. (G2) and was not seen the rest of the season. Has scope for improvement and should be a big price here.

4th -- #9 MONARCH OF EGYPT (10-1) appeared as if he was going to produce his best run since the summer when he was shut off while trying to make a bid up the inside in last week's Irish 2000 Guineas (G1). Probably wouldn't have won, but finished farther back than perhaps he could have. Contends here if he runs back to the form that made Siskin sweat a tad bit in the Phoenix (G1).

Race 4 -- Chesham S. -- 10 a.m. ET

1st -- She beat only two rivals in her debut, over the all-weather at Chelmsford no less, but #8 CONCESSIONS (8-1) appeared well along in maturity in doing so. Last early, she switched out for running room in upper stretch and responded well to the urgings of Ryan Moore, who has to take the mount on #1 Battleground this time. Concessions' sire won the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at this meet and other big events, while dam was a G2 winner in Dubai and South Africa who was a half to a Phoenix runner-up. Hails from the Richard Hannon yard, generally dangerous with its young runners.

2nd -- Of the first-out winners in the field, #4 FIRST PROPHET (6-1) seemingly one of the best from a visual standpoint when scoring by 1 1/2 lengths over Newbury's straight 7 furlongs last week. Another who could outrun expectations.

3rd -- Early favorite #7 MODERN NEWS (5-2) grinded his way to an initial first success going six panels at Newmarket, and choice of debut locale certainly worth extra consideration. Additional furlong surely works in his favor if not out-quickened, but value not really there for this Godolphin color-bearer.

4th -- #1 BATTLEGROUND (7-2), the Coolmore-owned first foal out of Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) and Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) winner Found, has vast room for improvement after career-opening fifth at Leopardstown going a furlong shorter. However, seemed the sort to perhaps need another run and will be a shorter price than most here.

Race 5 -- Gold Cup -- 10:35 a.m. ET

1st -- With his British Champions Long Distance Cup conqueror Kew Gardens missing this tilt, the table is set for #4 STRADIVARIUS (3-5) to pull off a Gold Cup treble accomplished only twice before with Sagaro and Yeats (who won it four times). Having a prep in the first two weeks of the flat season provided a boost to several winners Tuesday, and trainer John Gosden used the 1 1/2-mile Coronation Cup (G1) at Newmarket on June 5 to help shake off the cobwebs before this grueling 2 1/2-mile test. It was a fine effort, too, at a distance below his best, with only Ghaiyyath and Anthony Van Dyck superior at the wire. His very best tends to show more on faster ground than what he'll presumably see here, but this dominant stayer lays over these on paper and will be hard to beat at around even-money.

2nd -- #7 NAYEF ROAD (12-1) one of the better 3-year-old stayers last season when placing in the Queens Vase (G2) and Bahrain Trophy (G3) before notching the Gordon (G3) at Glorious Goodwood. Nothing wrong with his St Leger (G1) effort, running third to another Gosden-trained monster in Logician. Wheels back 12 days after landing the Sagaro (G3), normally a course prep but held this time on the Newcastle all-weather.

3rd -- #8 TECHNICIAN (8-1) no match against Nayef Road in a couple showdowns last term, but stepped up his game significantly in France last October when taking the Prix Chaudenay (G2) and Prix Royal-Oak (G1), the French St Leger, over testing ground. The likely rain-softened Ascot strip will presumably allow him to give his best account if he's good enough.

4th -- 2018 Melbourne Cup (G1) hero #1 Cross Counter not far behind Stradivarius on a couple occasions last year, but Godolphin's other entry #6 MOONLIGHT SPIRIT (15-1) is a progressive sort who can handle pretty much any kind of ground effectively. Excursions to France last season were fruitful, and a solid second to Technician in the Prix Chaudenay when last seen.