Tony Calvin straps in for the middle day of Royal Ascot where he recommends the following five horses...
The Aidan O'Brien-Ryan Moore combination doesn't usually offer much in the way of value at this meeting, but that is not the case on Thursday as I think Orderofthegarter should be favourite in the Hampton Court Stakes at 15:05.
I was amazed to see the horse put in at 10/1 by the Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, that price didn't last long but I still think there is a lot of mileage in his price. Back him at 9.08/1 or better, and 8/1 each way on the fixed-odds front is still very tempting
I am not even going to bother about mentioning any of the opposition.
Orderofthegarter apparently does not show a lot at home but he is beginning to display quite a lot on the track.
To be honest, the potential was there as a juvenile - he chased home two smart horses in War Decree and Cliffs Of Moher in his two starts - and, after winning on his first two outings this season, O'Brien pitched him into Classic company.
He led and stuck on really well when headed when fifth in the French 2,000 Guineas - he was coming back for more in the final furlong - but it was his run in the Prix du Jockey Club last time that marked him out as a bet for this race.
He may have finished behind stablemate Taj Mahal there - a horse he thrashed at Leopardstown in April - but that doesn't tell any of the story, let alone half of it.
Orderofthegarter got no run on the rail throughout the final 2f, and did remarkably well to be beaten only three lengths. With a clear, uninterrupted run, I genuinely think he may have had a chance of winning.
He has some of the best form and speed figure credentials in the field, and he seemed to handle fast ground well enough when chasing home War Decree (who actually finished fifth in France) at Leopardstown on his debut, and if Moore can get him into a prominent position from stall 14 then I will be very disappointed if he doesn't finish in the frame at least. I think he could be one of the gambles of the day.
Two to play in the opener
The Norfolk Stakes at 14:30 is obviously a very open contest but I am going to have a small-stakes interest on It Don't Come Easy at 11.010/1.
He finished a fair fourth at York on his debut, but connections were still disappointed, However, he certainly announced himself with a win over 5f on fast ground at Musselburgh last time.
Now, a head win at that track wouldn't normally say "Royal Ascot winner" but he turned over an unbeaten 2/5 shot in a very fast time there, and I think he is worth a nibble at a double-figure price.
I have to have a saver on Sioux Nation at 21.020/1, though.
He has a lot to find on form and was well beaten in the soft last time but the key to him could be this quicker ground and going down in trip.
It was officially good to firm when he chased home Coventry fourth Brother Bear at Leopardstown last month - and good when he won his maiden - and it is rare to see an O'Brien-Moore combo at these odds. I think the step down to 5f will be very much in favour of this speedy sort.
A Simple way to oppose George in the Gold Cup
Stable confidence in Mori is very high and if there is a bet in the Ribblesdale at 15:40 then it is probably her at the 7/2 mark. I wouldn't put you off at all.
I think she will end up going off favourite over Alluringly - I predict a starting price of maybe 5/2 - but I am happy to let her win without my money. Rarely do I tip at those odds in this column, as it's not my modus operandi, and a 12-runner race full of unexposed three-year-old fillies hasn't tempted me in. But Mori is the one if you want or need a punt!
I am keen to take on last year's winner Order Of St George at around the 11/10 in the Gold Cup at 16:20, and I will do so with Simple Verse at 9.08/1 or bigger.
She obviously has her stamina to prove but the St Leger winner certainly shaped as if this trip was well worth a try when third in the 2m Long Distance Cup here in October, and you had to love her reappearance effort when just getting touched off by Dartmouth in the Yorkshire Cup.
The only time she has encountered fast ground she has won, and she has the potential to take down the favourite. If you are looking for a bigger-priced alternative then the progressive Sweet Selection could be your girl, though she does have plenty to find on form.
Let's go to War with this one in the Britannia
Bless Him was the second reserve for the Britannia at 17:00 but as luck would have it two have come out - and one was Naval Warfare, who is in the same ownership, fortunately enough - and I think he rates a bet at 21.020/1 or bigger.
This horse can be far too free for his own good and that was the case when he was when third to City Of Joy at Doncaster on his return.
They put the hood on him at Goodwood last time, and he met all the trouble going in finishing fifth there. He would have won with a clear run.
Connections apparently earmarked him for this race since the start of the season, so they deliberately ran him from 5lb out of the handicap at Goodwood to get his rating up to a level where he could be sure of a run.
The handicapper obviously took notice of how unlucky he was at Goodwood, as he effectively raised him 5lb for that defeat, and now he has got in I expect him to show his full potential if he settles and gets the breaks. A big-field, strongly-run race on fast ground could be exactly what he wants, but obviously his draw in 3 is not ideal from today's antics. You may want to temper your stakes accordingly.
I don't have a betting opinion in the last at 17:35, but If you want my idea of the best punt at the prices I would probably say Utah or Tartini but I won't be getting involved myself.
Back It Don't Come Easy at 11.010/1 or bigger in 14:30
Back Sioux Nation at 21.020/1 in the 14:30
Back Orderofthegarter at 9.08/1 in the 15:05, and/or 8/1 each with Betfair Sportsbook
Back Simple Verse at 9.08/1 or bigger in the 16:20
Back Bless Him at 21.020/1 or bigger in 17:00