14:00 ARECIBO 1pt e/w INTENSE ROMANCE 1pt e/w
Dakota Gold has had a fantastic season and I am reluctant to oppose him but I just think he is better at 6f and that his price is too short for a 5f race.
The key to my thinking is the Be Friendly Handicap at Haydock on the 7th September. It was won impressively, on soft ground, by Maygold and it is this form on which she is, rightly, strongly faced for this race.
In second that day was Arecibo and O’Meara’s gelding is 5lb better in today for a 2 1/4 length defeat. Arecibo has run well at Ascot and is great value at 14-1.
Further down the field that day was Dakota Gold’s stablemate Intense Romance. She is 10lbs better off today with Maygold, won this race last year and has a good draw near the rails. Again is great value at 12-1.
With both selections it might be worth taking the five places widely available for slightly shorter odds.
It’s also worth noting that Karl Burke has been publicly bullish about True Mason’s chances, Tis Marvellous looks the best at the weights (but might not like the ground) and Poetry is a very long price for a horse that has won a listed race. Wouldn’t rule out any of the others in this wide open contest.
14:35 SEXTANT 2pts win
I love this horse and have successfully backed him four times this season – including twice here at Ascot. He will need to improve further to beat Morando but he has been progressive all season and won very cosily at Chester LTO. The professional pundits are expressing concern about his ability to handle the going as he has not raced on anything beyond good to soft. However, he is by Sea The Stars whose progeny has a strike rate of 23.53% on this going at Ascot.
So here’s hoping Her Majesty gets another winner in her back garden.
15:10 QAYSAR 1pt e/w SO BELOVED 1pt e/w SUMMERGHAND 1pt e/w
Very, very tough race to call as you would expect from an eighteen runner high class handicap. Hence, it’s worth spreading it about a bit with e/w bets on extra places.
Qaysar He’s in great form and is well drawn. Form at Ascot is a concern but at 22-1 he looks a good e/w bet for five places.
So Beloved has slid down the ratings and may now be back on a winning mark. The excellent claimer Angus Villiers taking off a further 5lbs.
Summerghand is a tough and consistent sort who has never been out of the first five in handicaps all season. He has never raced beyond 6f but, given that he is by Lope de Vega, you have to think that 7f on soft ground might work. In his only run at Ascot he came 5th only a couple of lengths behind the smart winner Cape Byron.
15:40 DONJUAN TRIUMPANT 1pt e/w
Cape Byron has won twice at Ascot including once on good to soft ground – he is difficult to oppose today. However, looking at the form at Ascot last October I would rate Donjuan Triumphant’s third to Sands of Mali on soft ground on Champions Day at Ascot a much better performance that by Cape Byron in the Ascot Challenge Cup a couple of weeks earlier. Tabdeed is a big threat but is short priced and I am happy to back Balding’s horse at the 11-2 available.
16:15 NO BET – UPDATE BELOW
The two I like here are Beauty Filly and Tapisserie but I am worried about the wellbeing of Haggas’s string. There have been a few signs of a return to form so if Faylaq runs well in the 14:35 I might reconsider.
Haggas has just had the 2nd and 3rd in the 13:40 at Newmarket so am now going 0.5pt e/w on the two above.
16:50 CAME FROM THE DARK 1pt e/w SAAHEQ 1pt e/w CALL ME GINGER 0.5pts e/w
Came From The Dark might be developing into a very special horse – he was incredibly impressive at Haydock.
Saaheq is a more speculative choice. He has never run at Ascot before but has shown some good form on the soft and has Villiers taking 7lbs off.
Call Me Ginger is unexposed. I’m pretty sure that Jim Goldie wouldn’t be giving him his handicap debut in a class 3 at Ascot with Tudhope atop unless he thought he might be a bit decent.
13:40 HYANNA 1pt e/w
Eva Maria looks good here but she is short-priced and there are signs that Fahey is coming off the boil. I like Geetanjali but am worried about the going. Hyanna impressed at Sandown and, at 14-1 is a value bet.
UPDATE! Ignore the comment on Fahey – he’s obviously back on form. Eva Maria won this and Fahey has won two others already!!!
14:15 BETTY’S HOPE 1pt e/w
Under The Stars looks good here but backing a short-priced jolly in a cavalry charge of thirty two year olds doesn’t appeal to me. Rod Millman is in ridiculously good form and his bargain basement Super Sprint winner, Betty’s Hope, is worth a speculative bet at 20-1.
14:50 AQUILEO 1pt e/w
I have no evidence on which to back this colt other than the fact that he is by Gleneagles and I bet on all of his progeny. At 20-1 and trained by Varian it’s worth a small pop.
15:25 BILLESDON BROOK 1pt e/w
I really want Laurens to win this but cannot separate the first five in the betting. What I am clear on is that, at 20-1, Billesdon Brook is great value each way.