We've reached Gold Cup day at Royal Ascot, and Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore has a strong book of rides as he looks to build on a winning Wednesday, including one on the favourite in the big race itself...
"If he runs his race, then he is the one to beat, but I fully respect Stradivarius and Vazirabad adds an extra dimension racing at Ascot for the first time, and Torcedor and Desert Skyline are certainly not no-hopers."
- Ryan Moore on Order Of St George
Chances in an open Day 3 curtain-raiser
14:30 - Land Force
I don't think there is a stand-out in this field - unless Wesley's filly Shang Shang Shang is one of his specials - so Land Force is in there with every chance. He has progressed with every run and I thought he ran well against two smart stablemates Fairyland and Van Beethoven in the Marble Hill last time.
He has plenty of speed, so the step back down to the minimum trip could see him in a better light, too. The National Stakes form is well represented here, and Vintage Brut won that nicely enough, but I think that form will need improving on here.
Step down in class on better ground just the ticket
15:05 - Hunting Horn
Again, there is certainly no stand-out in his race. In fact, my horse is the highest-rated in the line-up and he is taking a step down in class after finishing sixth in the French Derby last time. I think this better ground should be fine for him.
Magic has a great chance but a lot of respect for Sun Maiden
15:40 - Magic Wand
She didn't feel the same horse on soft ground in the Oaks last time, and it looks as though the going is very important to her. She will relish the quicker ground, as we saw when she beat subsequent Oaks winner Forever Together at Chester previously. So I would expect her to get a lot closer to Wild Illusion today, and that one carries a 3lb penalty, too - those penalties, however small, can find you out in races like this - and put up a far more prominent showing on a track that could really suit her.
I have a lot of time for Sun Maiden, though. The boss sidestepped Epsom with her after her impressive Salisbury winner and she strikes me as a filly you wouldn't want to underestimate in a hurry. She comes here in good order, and has the pedigree and potential to progress a good deal as the season progresses.
George can lead the Order in Gold Cup
16:20 - Order Of St George
He should have won the race last year, and I think he is in good shape to right that wrong. I have been very happy with him this season after wins at Navan and Leopardstown, and we know he is very hard to beat when on his A-game. He obviously goes very well here, and he showed a lot of guts to beat Torcedor and Stradivarius here in October.
I have heard a few people question his suitability to fast ground, but it was pretty rapid when he should have won last year. I have no worries on that score. If he runs his race, then he is the one to beat, but I fully respect Stradivarius and Vazirabad adds an extra dimension racing at Ascot for the first time, and Torcedor and Desert Skyline are certainly not no-hopers.
Ground and trip are fine for improving Bond
17:00 - Bond Street
I got no sort of run on him when he was second to a progressive horse at the Curragh and it wasn't a surprise when he went one better at Leopardstown last time. He returns to handicap company here on a 9lb higher mark than when beaten at the Curragh, so that puts his task into context, but he is an improving and well-related Galileo colt who we have probably not seen the best of yet. A draw in 31 could complicate matters, but you always need luck in these races. Quick ground seems to suit him very well, as does the trip.
Chances in a wide open competitive handicap
17:35 - Lucius Tiberius
This will be the first time I have sat on him, so I probably can't tell you a great deal. But his best efforts have come on quick ground, and he ran well when third to stablemate Giuseppe Garibaldi on his first attempt at this trip in a Listed race at Leopardstown last time. Given his lightly-raced and progressive profile, he obviously has chances, but this looks a very competitive handicap, as per usual.