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HORSE RACING FEATURE
Timefigure preview: Royal Ascot Thursday
Timeform's Research and Development team look at the best timefigure performances ahead of the third day of Royal Ascot 2018 on Thursday.
Where else to start but the Gold Cup and the 2016 winner Order Of St George? Good enough to have reached the frame twice in the Arc, he should have retained his Gold Cup crown last year, but lost out narrowly to Big Orange after being set too much to do. He can claim a race-leading timefigure of 126 but faces a far stronger field than in either of the last two years. Torcedor and Stradivarius were within a length of him in the 2m Long Distance Cup here on Champions Day last autumn and have both improved since, with Stradivarius recording a 120 timefigure when hosing up in the Yorkshire Cup last time. On top of which Vazirabad is virtually unbeatable in France and possesses a turn of foot few middle-distance horses, let alone stayers, can boast. This promises to be one of the races of the meeting and though Order of St George sets the standard and is a proven stayer, he looks too short at around 15-8.
Oaks runner-up Wild Illusion (107) heads those on time in the Ribblesdale, but much like the colts the leading three-year-old fillies don’t look a scary bunch, and at the prices she has to be worth taking on. Perfect Clarity (106) ought to get closer to her than in the Oaks on this more conventional track, but Sun Maiden looks a better alternative. The daughter of Frankel ran right away from her rivals in the last couple of furlongs in a Salisbury minor event last month on just her second start, recording a timefigure of 92. She received an upgrade of only 3 lb for that effort, using the wide path over three furlongs out, but recalculating upgrades for the meeting from the faint path two furlongs out puts a whole different spin on her effort compared to those that earned bigger upgrades than her from over three furlongs out. Her half-sister Midday was second in the Oaks in 2009 and Sun Maiden is an exciting prospect.