Can Nayef Road topple Stradivarius in the Ascot Gold Cup? Ryan Moore gives his verdict

Ryan Moore has another testing seven rides on day three of Royal Ascot 2020, including one in the big race, the Ascot Gold Cup.

Thursday, 18th June 2020, 9:55 am
Updated Friday, 19th June 2020, 9:58 am
Ryan Moore in action at Royal Ascot / Picture: Getty

Talking exclusively to Betfair he looks ahead to each one here...

1:15 Acquitted

The draw in 15 could make things awkward but he has a nice profile for this handicap. He won over a mile on heavy ground at Newbury at two and he reappeared to finish second to what is obviously a very well-regarded horse in Palace Pier at Newcastle on his return. Normally being raised 4lb for being beaten over 3 lengths would be classed as harsh, but it is fair enough given the winner was presumably thrown in, and the step up to 1m2f should suit him on pedigree.

1:50 Sir Dragonet

He has a big chance in what is admittedly a tough race. I think Ascot will suit him, and any more rain will help, too. His Chester win and Derby fifth puts him bang there form-wise, and they got a run into him over 1m2f just before the lockdown. He wasn’t at his best there but it was a nice introduction and that outing would have put him in good stead, and this looks a good opportunity for him. Having said that, I think Regal Reality could be tough to beat though, as he is the form choice on his Eclipse third to Enable and he has been going very nicely at home.

2:25 Monarch Of Egypt

This is a quick turnaround for him after his seventh in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the weekend, but things didn’t go for him here, as he was slowly away, then dropped in, and then got in trouble in what was obviously a very messy race. If the Curragh hasn’t left its mark then his juvenile form behind Siskin looks even stronger now. I think Ascot will suit him, too. It is another tight race and you have to respect the French horse Celestin in particular, especially if the ground eases. His fourth in the French 2,000 Guineas is among the best form on show here.

3pm Battleground

These 2yo races are tough to call all week, but I think Battleground has a big run in him. He is a War Front out of Found, who was a top-class, Group 1-winning juvenile herself before going on to win an Arc among other big races, and this step up to 7f should really suit him. Others in here will have achieved more than he did in finishing fifth on his debut over 6f at Naas, but he shaped really well when staying on form the rear on the outside that day, and hopefully you will see him step forward a good deal from that here. I like his chance going up to 7f.

3:35 Nayef Road

It will be tough to topple Stradivarius in here, that much is obvious. But I have an each way chance on Nayef Road after his Sagaro Stakes win on his return. If there is more in the locker – and he did finish third in the Leger, after all – he maybe could be the one to cause the upset. His best form has come on a decent surface, but he did finish a close third in a Queen’s Vase on soft ground here. But defeat for Stradivarius is unlikely to me, on all known form, though quick ground suits him best. Cross Counter is the second best in here on the figures but William Buick has got off him to ride Moonlight Spirit, I see.

4:10 Cherokee Trail

Although he was beaten a fair way in the end, I was very happy with his recent Newmarket run over 1m2f. He went from the front and stick on pretty well for me, and I think he is on a fair mark on 94. He is a course winner who did really well to win under a 6lb penalty at Newbury afterwards. He definitely has his chance in a wide-open handicap, and stepping down in trip is a positive.

4:40 Soffika

I imagine there were a few in here fancying their chances until they saw African Dream running off a mark of 80. She is absolutely chucked in here, having failed by only a nose to give 7lb to the 106-rated Stylistique over 7f at Newbury last week. But my filly has been working well and I’d say she in on a fair mark of 97 on her Sweet Solera second. If the favourite runs to her Newbury level over this extra furlong, then we are all playing for places, though.