Royal Ascot 2017: Thursday 22nd June

14:30: Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) 5f

Sioux Nation and True Blue Moon represent Aidan and Joseph O’Brien (respectively) but both will have to show a lot more than they already have done to take a hand in the finish. American trainer Wesley Ward looks like he has another likely type here in Mc Erin who was super impressive on debut at Keenland before just getting touched off in a better race at Churchill Downs. Santry won a division of the Brocklesby at Doncaster on debut and bettered that effort when defying a penalty in a novice event at York when beating subsequent Catterick winner Consequences and It Don’t Come Easy, who broke the two-year-old course record next time at Musselburgh. He rates a big danger.

15:05: Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3) 1 1/4m

Aidan O’Brien runs two here and Orderofthegarter looks the pick of them, over Taj Mahal, given the jockey bookings. A return to faster ground here could make all the difference and he can make the frame in a wide open contest.  Mick Halford’s Irish 2000 Guineas third Irishcorrespondent could spoil the party, however, and Mirage Dancer was very much an eye-catcher behind Epsom Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher in the Dee Stakes at Chester – form that has already been franked by the winner.

15:40: Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) 1½m

Aidan O’Brien has won two of the last three runnings of this and supplies likely favourite Alluringly who was third in the Epsom Oaks. The step up in trip is unlikely to bother her but there’s not much between those at the head of affairs and preference is for Coronet to bounce back to her best and at least place. She patently hated the soft ground on both runs this season and the return to firmer conditions can bring about an improved performance.  Naughty Or Nice is an intriguing runner for John Oxx in first-time blinkers with the form of her latest victory at Navan having been well advertised.

16:20: Gold Cup (Group 1) 2 1/2m

All eyes here will be on Order Of St George to see if he can win the race that Aidan O’Brien has almost completely dominated with seven victories in the last eleven years. He was a clear-cut winner of this last year before going on to finish third in the Arc – form that the rest of this field can only dream about. Torcedor beat the selection, who was having his seasonal reappearance, at Navan earlier this season but will do well to confirm the placings. Sheikhzayedroad is admirably consistent and has a brilliant course record while Simple Verse is a fascinating runner trying the trip for the first time.

Ladies Evening
Order Of St. George

17:00: Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) 1m

Lightening Fast and Moritzburg fly the Irish flag in this incredibly difficult handicap and, of the two, its Ger Lyons’s charge that looks better treated at the weights. Hugo Palmer has two live chances with Colibri and Via Serendipity and the former is suggested with big race jockey Pat Smullen aboard. He ran on well having been carried in the final furlong and will come on a huge amount for the run. He’ll also have the rail to keep him straight! Son Of The Stars had a few of these behind when just touched off by Ronald R on his Turf debut at Newmarket last month.

17:35: King George V Stakes 1½m

Homesman and Utah represent Ballydoyle here and it’s the mount of Ryan Moore that interests most with him having looked like an improved horse last time out at the Curragh when finishing 2L ahead of Sheila Lavery’s Twin Star. He’s been hit with a big hike by the handicapper and it remains to be seen if progeny of War Front can make their mark over this distance however. One who definitely made his mark last time out was Master Singer and although it may have been a weak maiden that he won – he won it by about a half a furlong. He was entered in a Group 2 earlier this week and that tells you the regard in which he’s held.

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