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I HAVE to admit, the Shergar Cup isn’t my favourite pastime in the world of horse racing, but the powers that be have decided to link one of the greatest racehorses of all time to a mundane team game and I can do nothing about it. Still, there could be a few shillings to be made from the event even though it didn’t fulfil the numbers that were originally designated for it.
What we do know about the Ascot meeting is that with the fair weather forecast set to continue, despite the watering, the ground will definitely be on the fast side of good. Returning to a mile and a half since winning at Goodwood at May, I fancy that HMS PRESIDENT will take all the beating in the opening event on the card at 1.00.
Dropped a pound by the handicapper for that run, I thought that this smaller field and a chance to be close to the pace throughout is a scenario I really like for this son of Excelebration – and he gets the nod over the likes of top weight Carolus Magnus, and further down the bottom of the list, Value Theory. The last named ran really well in a cracking fillies’ handicap at Goodwood and should be suited by this extra quarter of a mile.
The best bet on the card could well be old boy ARECIBO, in the five furlong dash (handicap) due off at 2.10. Trainer Robert Cowell has given the near veteran performer some tough tasks this season in Group One and Group Two events, and this drop back to handicap company at a track he has run well at before will surely suit him better.
On his best run this season, a two lengths third of 10 behind King’s Lynn in the Temple Stakes at Haydock Park, he has an outstanding chance here off a rating of 103 with the cream on the cake being that the current king of Ascot jockeys, Daniel Tudhope, is on board to do the steering.
The Stayers event at 2.10 looks wide open and many will plump for Goodwood Stakes second Super Superjack to run well after not getting the best of passages that afternoon. However, I think the likely favourite will be over played in the market here. He doesn’t do anything very quickly and the short home stretch may well expose that weakness. For me the better wager is clearly ISLAND BRAVE, a winner off 93 over the course and distance a couple of years ago, and now down to 95 after not being disgraced off three figures in the past 12 months. In such a tightly knit field there are any number of dangers, the biggest being, the favourite apart, top weight Rock Eagle.
Of the other events on the card, I think we will see a big run from BOPEDRO in the mile handicap at 3.55, while RAZEYNA could well be the answer to the finale three-year-old sprint at 5.05.
Elsewhere, the most attractive betting card is probably at Haydock Park which has a distinct advantage over the other tracks of being able to offer some decent ground away from the scorched turf elsewhere in the country. The weather forecast is likely to take any mention of “soft” out of the going description by the time racing comes along, but we will have no jar in the turf and that is sure to suit LA TRINIDAD and Young Fire in the seven furlong handicap at 2.25.
If anything the last named probably wants to get his toe into the going further, and the selection just gets the nod having dropped to his last winning mark in the handicap for trainer Roger Fell. His astute handler has also added the cheekpieces for the first time to try and eek out a little bit more improvement in the five-year-old.
The feature Group Three Rose of Lancaster Stakes (3.00) would have been a perfect opportunity for Brentford Flyer had the sun not kept away, but he really wants genuinely soft ground and is bypassed in the favour of the four-year-old ROYAL CHAMPION.
The Roger Varian trained charge is only having the sixth run of his budding career to date and showed he was firmly on the upgrade when beating good yardstick, Soto Sizzler, (run well since at Glorious Goodwood) in the Class Two Handicap on Derby Day at Epsom. He should get a really lovely tow into the race with plenty of pace in here led by the perennial frontrunner Marie’s Diamond.
THUNDERSHOWER can score for the Gosden family and Godolphin in the Listed Dick Hern Stakes at 3.35, while I also think we should get a really good run out of STAR ZINC in the three-year-old, extended seven furlong handicap at 5.15.
At Newmarket, it is worth having a second look at NOVAKAI in the feature Sweet Solera Stakes over seven furlongs at 3.40. She may only have a novice event success at Doncaster to her name but she beat a well regarded odds-on shot that day and Karl Burke is not one to over face his horses at the top end, unless he feels they have a genuine chance of winning.
Of the handicaps up for grabs at the other meetings of the day, I think the best wager could well come at Redcar where the very well treated WAR DEFENDER could well be the answer to the mile series qualifier at 2.52.
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