I am indeed fortunate that I have been invited to a day’s racing at Ascot on Saturday and I am much looking forward to some exciting racing, both there and on TV. It is a small window of R&R after a hectic week, which has seen the opening of The Lost Boy, a great new pub. bar and restaurant in Farnham, a pretty little town in Surrey. Named in homage to JM Barrie, who had a house nearby, I got into the mood, by watching Finding Neverland, a truly delightful piece of work. Sadly I am one of those people, who can burst into tears at a nicely portrayed piece of pithy loss. This with Johny Depp and Kate Wincyette was just such a thing.
I have also been helping my old friend Peter Jordan, the award-winning Time and Newsweek photojournalist who had captured a lot of Mugabe’s rise to power from Mozambique bush to Government House. He is holding his first retrospective exhibition in Bampton and his images lie among many of my memories of the 70s and 80s.
I’ve also been helping with something for the IJF – and I will give you more on that when appropriate, but suffice it to say, it made me laugh, and this week that has helped.
None of this helps us find winners however, so onwards and sideways!
1:35 Ascot Italian Tourist Board British EBF Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl4 (2yo) 7f
Novice 2yo races – the stuff of dreams! ROPEY GUEST should win this after a decent third in the Acomb, but why start winning now after six races with a best-placed third? Leave it alone or see if something starts to catch the eye in the market.
1:50 Haydock Better Odds On The Betfair Exchange Handicap Cl2 (3yo) 1m6f
This has all the hallmarks of being very tricky, with at least five potential winners who are all still improving. CALCULATION looked very assured LTO and keeps sucking up all the handicapper chucks on board. Maybe one just keeps backing him until the winning run ends. ELYSIAN FLAME won as a novice on Heavy ground and he won comfortably LTO on only his fifth start and he too looks as though there is something in the tank. FIRST IN LINE caused me some confusion in the Melrose LTO, as he ran alone and then moved onto the near rail coming into the straight. He was exuberant in his running and given that he was second to an improver to whom he was giving 4lbs, you’d have to say his last run promised a great deal. ALEMAGNA ran LTO as though she needs a nice flat track, she needs cut and she needs a stiff test to be seen at her best. LAAFY is the last of the five possibles, (a near certainty therefore that something else will win!). “lb well in and wearing a visor for the first time, he ran bravely and had a proper duel with the third home All in all I think I’ll stick with FIRST IN LINE and a small e/w on ALEMAGMA
2:05 Kempton (AW) Polytrack Sun Racing September Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m4f
MOOTASADIR and BEST SOLUTION probably have this between them, and SUN MAIDEN will come knocking on the door. I’m plumping for Hugo Palmer’s charge, who won the Magnolia Stakes back in March. Since then he’s rather lost his way and at around 5/1 I’m banking on him finding his Mojo again. The fright might come from PRINCE OF ARRANH who has dug us out historically and who was eye-catching in the Ebor LTO.
2:10 Ascot Royal Foresters British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl4 (2yo) 1m
This was won by the Dukes Roxburghe and Devonshire last year with Shambolic, 7th in the Galtres LTO. Sadly Guy Roxburghe lost his fight with cancer last week and while Lady Jane found his ways apropos of “Roamin’ in the Gloamin'”, he was a good man. Sadly this year’s race is again dependent on feel, market forces and racecourse tittle-tattle. With little form, I throw out for your approval one of the newcomers, ANASTARSIA from last year’s winning stable. William Buick might be on for a purpose.
2:25 Haydock Bet
In Play On The Betfair Exchange Superior Mile Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m
Tom Dascombe’s GREAT SCOT is a dual course winner, a CD beside his name and he has
2:45 Ascot Cunard Handicap Cl2 (3yo+) 7f
With Vake if Kent out, this looks trickier than a tricky thing. It’s now very competitive, and RIPP ORF won this off a 1lb higher last year. Hmmm, however, it could be that ESCOBAR has the conditions to suit, a decent draw, and might still be a pound or so right of the handicapper. KIMIFIVE also has some appeal at these weights, and one has to remember that he was beaten by three of these in the Golden Mile LTO. RUM RUNNER followed an easy win at Newmarket with a good Doncaster third, although I’m not sure about the ground. At around 28s as I write I think that’s a sexy price.
15:00 Haydock – Read Ryan Moore Exclusively At betfair.Com Ascendant Stakes (Listed) (Class 1)
A race where the future entries is an object lesson in the triumph of Expectation over Experience. One such looking to use the race as a stepping stone is
3:15 Kempton (AW) Polytrack Sun Racing “London Mile” Handicap (Series Final) Cl2 (3yo+) 1m
GOSSIPING – KASBAAN
3:20 Ascot Ritz Club British EBF Premier Fillies’ Handicap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-100) 1m
I think DESIROUS ran well in the Sandringham and could pose a threat to MUBTASIMAH, but the same could be said of SALAYEL who finished fourth in a tough York handicap LTO, which has already produced a winner. It was just her second start for Roger Varian having grown up and raced in Dubai, and she shaped as though this mile will open more doors.
3:35 Haydock Betfair Exchange Old Borough Cup Handicap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 1m6f
- 14/14 DSLR 39 or less
- 14/14 no more than 16 Handicap starts
- 14/14 1-5 previous handicap victories
- 14/14 ran in a C2 or less handicap LTO
- 14/14 last victory came in a Handicap
- 13/14 had no more than 20 career starts
- 13/14 OR same or higher than the last start
ALRIGHT SUNSHINE has been steadily progressing and this looks the type that Dalgleish is happy plotting up. GARBANZO has already won ay Haydock over a Soft 14f and Liam Keniry on board is a bonus. They have form together he’s lightly aced and not out of it by any means.
3:55 Ascot Lavazza Stakes (Heritage Handicap) Cl2 (3yo) 1m4f
Mark Johnston’s I’LL HAVE ANOTHER is a proper Ascot specialist and he always seems to run his race. At 12/1 he looks as sound an each-way chance as anything in this. He comes with a career-best performance LTO over 14f at Newmarket. He’s picked up a measly 4lbs for that effort, and the drop in trip and a decent pace, makes her look overpriced. CAP FRANCAIS didn’t look comfortable in the Gordon Stakes on his last run. He’s not good on the soft ground he’s encountered in two C1 races. Down in class here, he looks good value at 25/1.
4:10 Haydock Betfair Sprint Cup Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f
MAJOR JUMBO has been running consistently well this season and was rewarded with a Listed race LTO – his first win for 11 months. He’s been well beaten twice by Invincible Army and his 9th in the July Cup behind the now non-runner Ten Sovereigns, did not fill one with confidence. Still and all he does meet many of the trends and might be good for a place. WALDFAD is a German raider and in these troubled times, perhaps I should just lump on. Apart from anything else, the price quotes between the favourite and WALDFAD are wrong, when one remembers the Hackwood Stakes in July. I make it a 5lb advantage. We get a couple every year, horses running in handicaps who turn out to be Group class. KHAADEM is being spoken of as one such and certainly, he looked superior to his fellows in The Stewards Cup a C2 handicap at Goodwood and on very much different ground.
4:30 Ascot Fever-Tree Handicap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 6f
This is the fifth year of running, and the first three years it was taken by a 5 yo. Last year, it was won by FILLE DE REVE aged 3yo, beating at the time, the previous year’s winner. With me so far? FDR arrives here off a 1lb lower mark – despite being 4yo and having progressed. Even here in deepest rural Oxfordshire, there is the steady whiff of a plot – a decent mark for a repeat win. 14/1 – you’re kidding me! GOLDEN APOLLO is a course and distance winner and has been running well without winning. 8lb lower than his last winning mark and off this weight could easily be good for a podium finish.
5:05 Ascot Fortnum & Mason Handicap Cl3 (3yo+ 0-90) 5f
MOUNTAIN PEAK looks the wrong price around 16s especially with a win and decent 5th over C&D with 14 runners. He’s 3/6 over 5f and is very backable. AMPLIFY is high on my ratings.