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The Mandarin’s Royal Ascot Racecard for Thursday 20th June 2024

The Mandarin’s Royal Ascot Racecard for Thursday 20th June

Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) 2.30
There’s been plenty of support for Aidan O’Brien’s Whistlejacket, and he did look one out of the top drawer when scoring over this trip at The Curragh. As a full brother to the smart Little Big Bear, the winner of the Windsor Castle Stakes here in 2022, Whistlejacket is entitled to head the ante-post market. He’s only run on soft ground, so it’s taken on trust that he’ll act on this quicker surface, but Little Big Bear scored on good going so this shouldn’t be a concern. Karl Burke has his string in great order, so Shareholder makes the shortlist, as does Richard Fahey’s Moving Force who looks overpriced at around 25/1. Wesley Ward always has to be noted in these sprints, so Saturday Flirt should be in the mix, but Whistlejacket is the one to follow

King George V Stakes (Heritage Handicap) 3.05
French Duke
Lots of these looking progressive and it’s a pretty hot handicap for this valuable prize. The ready preference is for Roger Varian’s French Duke, who just ran out of race when last seen in a maiden at Newbury, closing all the time on the winner Hosaamm. This extra trip should suit this Sea The Stars colt who has the pedigree for this distance, and William Buick in the hot seat adds to the appeal, for a trainer that struck gold on Tuesday with Charyn. Ralph Beckett’s Going The Distance also looks a progressive sort, and for the each-way angle James Fanshawe’s East India Dock stands out, but for the win, French Duke has a huge chance

Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) 3.45
A good duel in store for this Fillies’ Group 2 between Charlie Appleby’s Diamond Rain and Andrew Balding’s Kalpana. The Shamardal filly, Diamond Rain, is bred in the purple, but Kalpana was so impressive in a handicap at Newmarket’s Craven meeting that she gets the vote. Kalpana followed up back there with a decent second in the Pretty Polly and should relish this extra trip. Ralph Beckett’s Oaks fourth, You Got To Me has to enter calculations, while John & Thady Gosden’s Danielle completes the shortlist. Kalpana to continue to progress and score here

Gold Cup (Group 1) 4.25
Kyprios (nap)
One of the outstanding horses of 2022, winning all six starts including this, and very easy to back for the feature. Only seen twice last term in an interrupted campaign, but showed all the ability remains when a comfortable winner of both Irish starts this year. Of course, the re-opposing Trawlerman did get the better of Kyprios here in the Long Distance Cup back in October in a real thriller, and will be the one to look out for, while stablemate Gregory is unexposed at this trip and can also make the frame. A terrific prospect in store, but Kyprios is the one to beat

Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (Colts & Geldings) 5.05
Kevin Ryan may hold the key to this hot handicap with Volterra, who looked to have plenty left under the bonnet when winning at Newmarket last month. This Farhh colt has been kept for this assignment since then to escape the notice of the Handicapper, and this mark may well prove to be lenient. The well funded Wathnan Racing have snapped up Native Warrior, who led from the front in a Nottingham maiden with enough in the tank to ease down through the finishing stages, while at bigger odds, Roger Varian’s Dashing Darcey looks progressive. Volterra to score to Kevin Ryan

Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3) 5.40
First Look (nb)
This Group 3 can go to French raider First Look, who lines up here after a fine second in the French Derby. Although no match for the winner, the exciting colt Look De Vega, these are calmer waters and he’s an obvious choice. King’s Gambit won the London Cup at Newbury and deserves a crack at some Black Type, while Richard Hughes’s Bracken’s Laugh is unlikely to be far away. Andrew Balding’s Bellum Justum was down the field in The Derby, but looks an attractive each way angle with Oisin Murphy booked, but First Look is the class act so gets the nudge

Buckingham Palace Stakes (Handicap) 6.15
King’s Time
Ed Walker’s Wootton Bassett colt English Oak has been well supported for this after a 4 length win at Haydock Park, enough seen to be bought up by big spenders Wathnan Racing. However, a chance is taken on Jessica Harrington’s Irish raider King’s Time, who won a Premier Handicap at Cork in some style, and may be ahead of the Handicapper. He looks a steal in the ante-post markets. Simon & Ed Crisford’s Awaal is always one to note in big handicaps, while Divine Libra had a good season last year and hasn’t finished improving yet for Charlie Hills, Ryan Moore in the diving seat adding to the appeal. King’s Time to score on his first run on British soil

The Mandarin

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