Timeform UK SmartPlays: Thursday June 21

Mick Channon's Cay Verde holds strong claims in the Norfolk

The Timeform team look forward to Ladies Day at Royal Ascot, finding three horses of interest.

"This next step up into Group 3 company is well within Cay Verde's grasp..."

The third day of the Royal meeting starts with the Norfolk Stakes (14:30), a race over the minimum distance of five furlongs, though the overnight rain is likely to make this more of a test for the juvenile speedsters than is often the case. A key form angle here comes in the form on Tuesday's Windsor Castle Stakes winner Hototo, who finished behind Cay Verde in a maiden over this course and distance last month. That came on soft ground and latter subsequently backed up in listed company at The Curragh, which would indicate this next step up into Group 3 company is well within Cay Verde's grasp. Aussie jockey Craig Williams was out of luck with Ortensia in the King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday, but knows his way around here well enough from a previous stint riding for Mick Channon to make Cay Verde a confident selection.

Thirty-five minutes later, it's the turn of the three-year-old fillies in the Ribblesdale Stakes. The race is often seen as a chance for those vanquished in the Oaks to gain recompense, and that's exactly what we think will happen today. Shirocco Star, The Fugue and Vow filled the frame in that order behind Was at Epsom, but we think it's the second-named who stands the best chance of taking this prize. The Fugue was arguably unlucky not to win the Oaks, shuffled back at a vital stage before finishing strongly, ultimately beaten less than a length (and half a length by second-placed Shirocco Star). She was also fourth in a soft-ground 1000 Guineas, so the more testing conditions are unlikely to hold any fears for her.

Frog Hollow is the third selection, though if Ralph Beckett's charge is to get his head in front, he'll have to get the better of up to 28 opponents in the always ultra-competitive Brittania Stakes (16:25). The grey went off a heavily-backed favourite in the same valuable handicap at Haydock which Sagramor was successful in last year before following up in the Brittania, but lightning fast ground found him out and he could finish only fourth. Blinkers are tried for the first time today and while there have been no definitive clues regarding the draw so far this week, a post position near the stands rail could well be a benefit and he is certainly worth chancing, even in a field where many others hold progressive profiles.

Timeform SmartPlays
all at Royal Ascot
Back Cay Verde @ 4.03/1 in 14:30
Back The Fugue @ 3.65 in the 15:55
Back Frog Hollow @ 12.5 in the 16:25

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