Order Of St George can become the first horse since Kayf Tara 18 years ago to regain his Gold Cup crown at Royal Ascot on Thursday.
The six-year-old’s blend of speed and stamina have long established him as a class act. He was a decisive winner of one of racing’s most iconic contests two years ago and looked unlucky when beaten inches by Big Orange in a rousing renewal 12 months ago.
Order Of St George went one better back at Ascot on Champions Day in October and should be spot on for his return to the course after routine wins at Navan and Leopardstown this campaign.
Overall, trainer Aidan O’Brien’s runner has won 13 of his 24 races and looks a fair bet, at about 2/1, to improve that tally under Ryan Moore. The pair who chased Order Of St George home on Champions Day — Torcedor and Stradivarius — are back for another crack at him. However, the former seems at his most effective on softer ground, while the two-and-a-half-mile trip represents uncharted territory for Stradivarius.
Vazirabad, trained in France, boasts an even better wins-to-runs ratio than Order Of St George, having won 15 of his 22 starts. He is another who has a stamina question to answer but may pose the biggest threat.
Two sons of Frankel scored on the opening day of Royal Ascot yesterday and a third, Cracksman, is expected to deliver in this afternoon’s feature race, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at 4.20pm.
Tomorrow, another exciting colt sired by him, Wadilsafa, rates decent value at the 10/1 on offer in the Hampton Court Stakes after success at Newmarket last time.
Derby-winning trainer Charlie Appleby has already struck at the meeting, with Blue Point in the King’s Stand Stakes, and he has prospects of landing a double.
🐎 #RoyalAscot Thursday tips@standardsport's Michael Cooper on which horses to back on day three— Standard Sport (@standardsport) June 21, 2018
3.40 Wild Illusion
4.20 Order Of St George
5.00 Crack On Crack On
More 👇 https://t.co/vgGdhA8tsZ
Wild Illusion, the Oaks runner-up, is fancied to go one better in the Ribblesdale, while Dubhe’s drubbing of Communique at Sandown in April, when conceding 6lb, suggests he is on a favourable mark in the King George V Stakes.
Konchek did not enjoy the rub of the green at Sandown on his latest start and gets the nod in the opening Norfolk Stakes.
Meanwhile, the 30-runner Britannia Stakes looks typically impossible but the progressive Crack On Crack On, unbeaten in two starts this term, appears to have plenty going for him.