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Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Our panellists answer the big questions from Tuesday to Saturday

Caravaggio is expected to face a big test against Harry Angel in Friday's Commonwealth Cup
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Who do you fancy in the trio of Group 1s at Royal Ascot on Tuesday?

Michael ­Holding, cricket legend and owner
I’m afraid my fancies are very boring. I fancy Ribchester, Churchill and, in particular, Lady Aurelia. She showed she’s no one-trick pony when she didn’t lead before winning on her comeback at Keeneland and she may well have improved from last year.

Sam May, Betway odds compiler
I wouldn’t be shocked if Lightning Spear closed the deficit on Ribchester with a reappearance run under his belt and better ground in his favour. Lady Aurelia was sensational last year in the Queen Mary; back at Ascot over five furlongs she’s the one they have to beat. I can’t see anything but Churchill winning the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Mike Murphy, trainer
It’s very difficult to oppose Ribchester, who gets stronger with every race. I’ve been impressed with Marsha and it’s hard to overlook Lady Aurelia but I would pick Priceless, who still looks on the upgrade and offers the better value. I’m a big fan of Barney Roy, who wasn’t suited by the track in the Guineas. I can see him reversing the form with Churchill.

David Nolan, jockey
I think Ribchester will win the Queen Anne. I see him during the week and he’s thriving. He was brilliant at Newbury in the Lockinge and he’s improving all the time. Lady Aurelia was very impressive last year in the Queen Mary and I think she’ll do it again in the King’s Stand. I can’t see past Churchill in the St James’s Palace. He keeps coming up trumps and I like the way he does it.

Johnny Murtagh, trainer
I won’t be taking 4-6 about Ribchester but he looks the one to beat if he can reproduce his Lockinge performance. Reports about Lady Aurelia are positive but I think the King’s Stand could be run to suit Marsha. The fast ground and a fast pace could swing things her way. Churchill is going to be very hard to beat. Aidan [O’Brien] always has his big-name horses primed for this week.

Who’s the ­selection for Wednesday’s highlight, the Prince of Wales’s?

Michael ­Holding, cricket legend and owner
Ulysses. I’ve always liked him and he may not have been ready for it when running in the Derby last year. He now seems to have benefited from having a light campaign and has matured. I know Stoutey has always liked the horse and he must have a big chance, but it won’t be easy with the likes of Highland Reel and Jack Hobbs in the race.

Sam May, Betway odds compiler
In the shadow of Golden Horn in 2015. Injured in 2016. Back with a scintillating performance in 2017, winning the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan. John Gosden and William Buick teamed up to win the Prince of Wales’s in 2014 with The Fugue and I expect them to land the spoils once again with Jack Hobbs.

Mike Murphy, trainer
It’s a close call between Jack Hobbs and Highland Reel. But to do what Highland Reel did at Epsom, having literally just come off the horsebox after their travel problems, was impressive. The quicker ground would be better for him.

David Nolan, jockey
Jack Hobbs looked awesome at Meydan in the Sheema Classic and coming back in trip isn’t a concern; he travelled extremely well that day and he’s got class.

Johnny Murtagh, trainer
It looks an open race this year and for me the very tough and consistent Highland Reel sets the standard. Dropping back in trip could be a bit of an issue, so I’d imagine he might have to force things a bit. Ulysses could be the main danger as he has the potential to improve.

What’s the bet in the Gold Cup – Order Of St George or one at a price?

Michael ­Holding, cricket legend and owner
I’m with the favourite. There are not many stayers who have the class to run in an Arc and he has the change of pace that is needed even in races over two and a half miles. I reckon he could even run over five miles and still find a change of gear at the end of it.

Sam May, Betway odds compiler
Order Of St George is short enough. So my each-way money is heading for Hughie Morrison’s Sweet Selection, recent winner of Ascot’s Group 3 Sagaro Stakes. It’s her first attempt in a Group 1 and it could be a winning one with Silvestre de Sousa in the form of his life. Sweet Selection is very hard to pass and does nothing but stay. She could be a spot of value at around 14-1.

Mike Murphy, trainer
My head says Order Of St George but if you go for value it would have to be Big Orange. He had a great prep in the Henry II Stakes. Fast ground will really suit him and 8-1 is still a big price. Jessie Harrington’s Torcedor has a chance too with the trainer having such a fantastic year.

David Nolan, jockey
I’d go for Sheikhzayedroad, who has great course form and stays well. He’ll get a nice gallop to aim at and he could run a big race.

Johnny Murtagh, trainer
I wasn’t too convinced about Order Of St George until he won the Saval Beg Stakes quite easily. His chance of repeating last year’s win looks good if he runs to his best, which hasn’t always been the case. Quest For More could be a lively outsider.

Friday’s Commonwealth Cup looks a cracker – who do you fancy?

Michael ­Holding, cricket legend and owner
I’ve always liked Caravaggio and he would be one of my bankers of the meeting. He’s a fantastic sprinter who I swear quickened twice in one race I watched in Ireland last year. He’s still got that ability if his comeback run is to be believed and I won’t be backing anything to beat him.

Sam May, Betway odds compiler
This is the race I’m most looking forward to. The unbeaten Caravaggio deserves to be favourite but Godolphin’s newest recruit Harry Angel is a very special horse. He looked a world beater in the Sandy Lane at Haydock. This will be Caravaggio’s toughest test to date and Harry Angel just edges it for me.

Mike Murphy, trainer
It is an absolute cracker. Every time I see Caravaggio run, the race looks like a piece of work for him. But I’ll go with Harry Angel, who was awesome at Haydock.

David Nolan, jockey
I watched Caravaggio win at Naas last time and he looked absolutely awesome. When you listened to the trainer and jockey afterwards the vibes were all good – they love him and he’s a very good horse.

Johnny Murtagh, trainer
I’m a huge fan of Caravaggio and he really impressed me as being high class when he won the Coventry last year. He hasn’t raced very often but he won well on his return at Naas and if he’s on his game he’ll take a lot of beating. Harry Angel was impressive at Haydock and might give him most to do.

And what’s the pick for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday?

Michael ­Holding, cricket legend and owner
It’s a little difficult to know who is going to turn up at this stage but The Tin Man has plenty of experience of the track, which will help. I also like looking for the overseas horses in this, which adds a bit of colour, so Bill Mott’s horse Long On Value could provide a bit of just that.

Sam May, Betway odds compiler
Dean Ivory’s horses are running well and if Librisa Breeze is fully tuned up on his return I can see him running a big race. His late turn of foot when winning over seven furlongs late last year at Ascot was somewhat miraculous. This would be only his second try over six furlongs and at Group 1 level, and he’s worth another try. This is wide open and he’s worth a bet at 14-1.

Mike Murphy, trainer
Limato runs well at Ascot and Henry Candy had a couple of winners on Saturday, but I also like The Tin Man. He won the Champions Sprint in October, James Fanshawe is in very good form and I like Equiano’s progeny because we’ve had a lot of success with his horses.

David Nolan, jockey
Growl could run a big race at 16-1. I’ve won on him in the past and I’ve ridden him in work this year and things haven’t gone right for him in his last couple of runs. He ran a great race at Ascot last year in the Champions Sprint, splitting The Tin Man and Brando, and the track suits the way he needs to be ridden.

Johnny Murtagh, trainer
I’m with The Tin Man, who has good form over the course. James Fanshawe has had many big days at the meeting and he could have another on Saturday. I’d prefer The Tin Man to Limato, who was a bit disappointing last time.

What’s your hottest handicap fancy and top two-year-old tip of the week?

Michael ­Holding, cricket legend and owner
I’ll take a different angle with this one. It will be a difficult week for the Queen what with the parliament business and all, but the ending to the week I would love to see is her horse Dartmouth winning the Hardwicke Stakes again. I’ve always liked the horse to a degree but I didn’t expect him to beat Stoutey’s other runner Exosphere in the race last year, and he seems to have improved again.

Sam May, Betway odds compiler
Solar Flair at 50-1 in the Wokingham. He ran two fine races under Jim Crowley at Kempton, finishing second and then winning off a mark of 100. The next race came too quickly at Chelmsford and the Wokingham has been his aim since. De Bruyne Horse is my two-year-old fancy; he looked really talented at Epsom and with the form franked he looks a bet in the Coventry.

Mike Murphy, trainer
I love the Hunt Cup but I’m going to pick two. Zhui Feng, who I saw beat Marsha at Kempton, ran very well in the Victoria Cup from a bad draw and has the tactical speed. The other is Yuften, who is only 4lb higher than when winning the Balmoral, which is top-class handicap form. The two-year-old has to be one of Wesley Ward’s and I’d go with McErin. By all accounts he’s very useful.

David Nolan, jockey
Banksea won the Spring Cup at Newbury and the form of that race has worked out but he’s gone up only 4lb and I’d go for him in the Royal Hunt Cup. The two-year-old I’d pick is Richard Fahey’s It Dont Come Easy. Everybody in the yard loves him, I’ve ridden him in work myself and I think he’ll improve again.

Johnny Murtagh, trainer
I haven’t studied the handicaps. I like Murillo in the Coventry. He was impressive in his maiden at Tipperary. He beat a colt of ours, Wolfofbaggotstreet, whom we thought would win very easily, by three lengths. Ballydoyle have won the Coventry eight times and this colt could be another for them. By the way, I think Winter is an absolute certainty in the Coronation.

To do what Highland Reel did at Epsom, having literally just come off the horsebox after their travel problems, was impressive
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