In Review

Ascot 2016 odds: Tips for the Gold Cup and big Friday races

Order of St George is favourite to take home the glory on Ladies Day, but there could be a surprise in store

After two days of thrilling racing to open proceedings, Royal Ascot prepares for the weekend with Ladies Day - and the Gold Cup - on Thursday and three more Group One races on Friday and Saturday.

Thursday:It's Ladies Day at Royal Ascot, but all the attention on the track will be on the Ascot Gold Cup, the oldest race of the meeting, dating back to 1807, and also the only Group One race of the day.

The hands-down favourite is Order of St George, but not everyone is convinced, despite his odds-on price.

"He is class but is a short price for a horse which has to go three-quarters of a mile further than he has ever been before," says Marcus Armytage of the Daily Telegraph – which means it is worth looking elsewhere in the field of 18.

"If it is a character you are after then Pallasator, who often loses the plot on the way to the start, is your man," adds Armytage. "But Mizzou was only beaten three-and-a-half lengths in this last year, likes Ascot and can win."

Alex Hammond of Sky Sports gives the nod to Mizzou, while it is Pallasator who gets Telegraph tipster Marlborough's backing.

Sporting Life also says he could "spring a huge surprise" in the race.

"Pallasator has won over two-and-a-quarter miles and has shown an aptitude for soft conditions having won on heavy at Haydock, where the ground is certainly searching when wet," says Anita Chambers.

However, the website's other tipsters are split between second favourite Max Dynamite and Flying Officer. So each way is the order of the day.

Friday:The sprinters take centre stage in the Commonwealth Stakes, the first Group One of the day. Quiet Reflection is top choice and will "appreciate any rain", says Armytage of the Telegraph. He is also well fancied by other tipsters.

Nevertheless, Paul Kealy in the London Evening Standard cannot get over the "massive" odds on Mark Johnston's Buratino, still available at 16-1.

The horse is "clearly very well suited to Ascot", after winning the Coventry Stakes last year, argues Kealy, adding: "Few stallions have produced more Ascot straight-course winners than his sire Exceed and Excel."

Next up at 4.20pm is the Coronation Stakes and for once, the experts are agreed that Nemoralia, available at 5-1 is the horse to back. She "will take the world of beating", says Kealy, and the Telegraph and Sky Sports both concur.

However, her trainer, Jeremy Noseda, sounded a note of caution earlier in the week, which could be good news if you prefer the safer option of favourite Jet Setting.

Saturday:Magical Memory is the pick of the bunch in Saturday's feature race, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, but last year's winner Undrafted is also back to defend the title.

Royal Ascot: Who to put your money on in the first two days

14 June

Royal Ascot, the richest meeting in British horse racing, gets underway today, with 30 races across four days and a total prize pot of £6.58m.

Around 280,000 racegoers, including the Queen, are expected to attend over the five days of action and most will hope to line their pockets by picking a winner.

The first day features three top-level Group One races and Marcus Armytage of the Daily Telegraph describes the line-up as the "best day's racing of the year", although the soft ground has led to some withdrawals.

But who should the intelligent punter think about backing on the first two days of the festival?

Tuesday: The biggest race of the day is the St James's Palace Stakes at 4.20pm over one mile.

It is, says Armytage, "in effect, three Guineas for the price of one" as the winners of the English, Irish and French 2,000 Guineas go head-to-head.

"Preference has to be for Awtaad, who again showed his relish for soft going when putting Galileo Gold, the English 2,000 Guineas winner, in his place in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh," says Andy Stephens in the London Evening Standard.

Awtaad may be short odds at 7-4, marginally second favourite behind French Guineas winner The Gurkha, but "it's hard to think bookmakers are much out of line with their prices," says Graham Cunningham of Sporting Life. "And any further rain can only boost his chances further".

The opening race of the meet, the Queen Anne Stakes, is also intriguing. US horse Tepin, the early favourite, has drifted in the betting and "climbs into the ring with some serious questions to answer", says Cunningham.

Tepin has never raced a straight mile and will not be able to use the race day medication Lasix, which is common in the US but banned in Europe. Now will she wear a breathing strip.

However, the tipsters are split on who else to back, with joint favourites Belardo and Ervedya both expected to do well.Andy Stephens of the Standard suggests an each-way flutter on outsider Lighting Spear, at 33-1.

The other Group One race of the day is the King's Stand Stakes at 3.40pm, with second favourite Profitable being widely tipped.

"Profitable beat [favourite] Mecca's Angel when the pair met in the Temple Stakes at Haydock last month, yet can be backed at more than double his odds," says NewsBoy of the Daily Mirror.

He also gets the backing of Matt Chapman at Paddy Power. "There's no doubt the ground is right for Mecca's Angel, but Profitable is the improver in this field and is another who won't mind some give in the surface."

Wednesday: The Prince of Wales stakes at 4.20 "is shaping up to be one of the races of the week", says Alex Hammond of Sky Sports.

"[It] features the British debut of new Japanese superstar A Shin Hikari, whose ten-length win from an excellent field in the Prix d'Ispahan last month had to be seen to be believed, even if the margin was in reality more like seven lengths," says Paul Kealy in the Standard.

The odds may not be very good, but he is "one of the true heavyweight attractions of the week", says Graham Cunningham of Sporting Life.

A field of 30 will contest the Royal Hunt Cup, which makes picking a winner quite a challenge. The Irish Post backs Balmoral Castle, available at 25-1. "Provided that he gets a fair draw, he should be more than capable of making his presence felt," it says.

For a more considered option try the 3.40pm Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Favourite Usherette has her fans, but there is also backing for Devonshire at 10-1, who will "relish" the wet weather according to Cambridge News, which says she can "find the necessary improvement to triumph".

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