Stradivarius can secure his status as the best stayer around with victory in Thursday’s feature Group One Gold Cup (4.20) at Royal Ascot.

John Gosden’s four-year-old enjoyed an excellent 2017, winning the Queen’s Vase here 12 months ago in dominant style, before tasting Group One success in the Goodwood Cup.

Fine efforts followed in the St Leger and the Champions Long Distance Cup – both on unsuitably softened ground – before a hugely impressive reappearance win in the Yorkshire Cup last month, tanking his way into the lead over two furlongs out before quickening smartly to win easily.

Order Of St George is a top-class rival who won the 2016 renewal of this, but I’m keen to take him on, on the basis that he’s better on soft ground and that this trip – just shy of 2m4f – just makes the petrol gauge flicker a tad too much.

Stradivarius is the rapidly improving, younger rival and I think he’ll win under in-form Frankie Dettori, who rode three winners on the opening day.

George Of Hearts is worth having onside in the Britannia Stakes (5.00) in what does look an incredibly tough 33-runner handicap puzzle to solve.

This lightly-raced candidate shed his maiden tag at Chelmsford in March before suffering interference when second to Society Power here in May over seven furlongs, who broke the track record over seven in the process.

Richard Hughes’ charge was flying home that day and just fell short of reeling in William Haggas’ winner, who has since gone and won off a 6lb higher mark in a hot handicap at Goodwood.

Jamie Spencer – who this race 12 months ago on Bless Him – is an excellent booking and is operating at a 23 per cent strike-rate in mile handicaps at Ascot since the course was relaid.

Being drawn high in this handicap, over a mile for three-year-olds, is often beneficial and George Of Hearts couldn’t have asked for a better berth in 32. He’ll need luck in running if Spencer adopts his usual hold-up tactics but he may just have a willing partner to make it pay.

Royal Ascot day three race-by-race selections:

2.30: The Paddocks – Showed a good attitude when knuckling down to win at Newbury on debut and has since been bought by shrewd connections.

3.05: Masaarr – Roger Varian’s three-year-old won well at Doncaster off 88 last month and is worth another chance after disappointing effort at Newbury.

3.40: Magic Wand – Convincing winner at Chester in the Cheshire Oaks and Oaks flop at Epsom can be excused on soft ground. Can bounce back.

4.20: Stradivarius (see above)

5.00: George Of Hearts (see above)

5.35: Downdraft – Won well at Navan last month. Life tougher here off 8lb higher mark but is on the up and in good hands with trainer Joseph O’Brien.