Royal Ascot 2020: Gold Cup day – live!

The rainclouds that threatened but largely failed to deliver on Tuesday and Wednesday finally dumped some serious rain on Ascot after racing yesterday, and the effect on Stradivarius’s price to become only the third horse in history to win the Gold Cup three times has been dramatic.

So far, the course has taken 13.2mm of rain since midnight, more than enough to change the official going to good-to-soft all over with every chance of further deterioration as the day goes on. That is very bad news for backers of Stradivarius, who remains odds-on for today’s feature race – but only just.

It’s true that the ground was officially soft, good-to-soft in places when Stradivarius won his second Gold Cup last year, with a GoingStick reading of 7 on the straight course and 5.7 on the round course before racing, but it was drying all the time (and changed to good-to-soft all over after the Gold Cup).

The GoingStick readings today are almost identical (7 and 5.5, slightly softer than 2019, respectively) but heading down. By race time, the going is likely to be very similar to the ground on which Stradivarius’s 10-race winning streak was snapped by Kew Gardens on Champions Day last year.

Having been priced up at around 4-7 by most major firms this morning, Stradivarius is now available at 5-6 with Bet365, in the face of strong support for Martin Meade’s four-year-old Technician, who took the Group One Prix Royal-Oak on heavy ground at Longchamp in October. Oisin Murphy’s mount is now top-priced at 100-30, having been available at 5-1 overnight.

Stradivarius’s win last year was, memorably, Frankie Dettori’s fourth straight winner on the card, and he was only just touched off in the fifth. Having peered into the abyss of a six-timer, bookmakers are likely to be wary of his mounts again today, all but one of which sits in the first three in the betting.

Dettori, with one winner so far, needs this to be a moving day if he is to retain the top jockey title he won last year for the first time since 2004. He is now a 3-1 chance for the prize, behind Jim Crowley (2-1), who added another winner yesterday to stand on four, and Ryan Moore (2), the 6-4 favourite. James Doyle, also on two winners, is 10-1.

Chris Cook’s selections for the third day are here, and the action is underway at 1.15.

The Royal box will be empty again today at Royal Ascot behind closed doors. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/AFP/Getty Images

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