Good morning all,
It’s QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot, and although there’s two jumps fixtures I’m arguably more interested in (might do a video for them later, we’ll see) I ought to take a look at the card and a swing at a few big priced ones, which is, after all, what the Saturday Preview ought to be all about!
Here's my thoughts on four of the big races.
1.20 – Long Distance Cup (Group 2)
On all we know, Stradivarious should be winning this with a bit to spare, but the Arc was always the plan and this looks a bit of an afterthought. He should still be good enough, but maybe he’ll have to fight a bit harder than the figures suggest he will.
And if we take the favourite out of the race, what can you truthfully point at and say “yes, that will stay 2m with plenty of cut in the ground”? It’s a struggle to find something definitive, that’s for sure. Morando shapes like he’ll stay, and he’ll enjoy the ground, but you couldn’t say for certain he’ll stay, and I think I’d rather try a very small e/w bet on Max Vega at a price.
The form she has shown this season isn’t good enough, I’ll say that, but her Geoffrey Freer second isn’t that far behind what Fujaira Prince has achieved this season, and she’s getting a useful 8lb from him (but is five times the price). I’ve no strong opinion, but there are worse bets than her in here.
1.55 – Champions Sprint (Group 1)
Has Dream Of Dreams really turned a corner, or will we see the one that’s blown out twice in this before?
Let’s be fair and say that plenty of the reason I was against him in the Sprint Cup at Haydock was that he’d blown out in that previously too, and he turned that around this year, so it does give plenty of hope that he’s simply a reformed character now. If that’s the case, he’ll probably win, but if he chucks it in then this is open.
Again, no strong opinion but Cape Byron’s Ascot record alone (four wins from 8 starts) entitles him to respect. He too blew out in this last year but that came at the end of a long season, whereas he’s been kept fresh it this year. He’s twice won after an absence of 200+ days, and he won’t mind the ground.
Skybet and Paddy going 5 places means something at a huge price could fall in, and Speak In Colours makes some appeal on that score. He did run in this last year, finishing sixth, and I’d argue at least three of his efforts of this year better that. A bad one at the Curragh last time needs forgiving, but he’s had a short break (has won and run well after similar breaks before) and 50s makes some appeal.
3.05 – QEII Stakes (Group 1)
All about Palace Pier, who has improved on each start and showed that soft/heavy holds no terrors when beating Alpine Star on it at Deauville. Many will be throwing him in doubles with Stradivarius and looking forward to collecting, but that’s not the way I play things, and with a couple of firms going four places, it opens things up for an each-way bet.
Circus Maximus is the obvious one, as Ascot seems to suit him so well, and it is hard to see him out of the four if he runs his usual game race from the front. Of those at huge prices, Roseman, who was fourth to Circus Maximus (after not getting the best of runs) in the Queen Anne, makes some appeal. He won’t mind the ground at all, and the fact he comes back after a 90-day break is of no concern (he’s run his best two races after a break).
4.15 Balmoral Handicap (1m)
A race you could go on about for an hour and still not have the winner.
I know, from speaking to the esteemed Mr Delargy yesterday, he’s keen on Alternative Fact running a big one here and it isn't hard to see him going well, but of those towards the head of the market, I like Jessica Harrington’s Njord, who has run well in these big field handicaps all year and ought to get a good tow into this with likely favourite and pacesetter Raeeq drawn next door to him. No ground worries and should be thereabouts.
Greenside barely knows how to run a bad one and lost nothing in defeat over a trip too sharp (6f) at York last time, doing plenty of good late work. It’s a bit eggs-in-one-basket, going for two horses both drawn low as if high is the place to be, I’ve done it in twice, but with the extra places on offer, both Njord and Greenside make some appeal.
Today’s selection – Roseman (e/w 4 places) 3.05 Ascot
Good luck with all your bets today,