WE’VE been spoiled with top-class racing over the last few weeks.
But sometimes it makes a nice change to have a card of competitive handicaps to get stuck into, such is the case at Ascot on Saturday.
OFFER OF THE DAY
£20 Risk Free Bet with Paddy Power CLAIM HERE
18+ T&Cs apply Begambleaware.org
T&Cs: New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using Cards or Apple Pay will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. Paddy’s Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply. 18+ Begambleaware.org
CAP FRANCAIS (2.25 Ascot) looks a touch over-priced for mine in the big mile handicap.
He was trained as a potential Derby horse early last year, and while those dreams fell by the wayside he was still campaigned over middle-distances.
He even ended his campaign with a run in the 1m6f Listed Noel Murless Stakes at this track, where he finished tailed off on soft ground.
It was a bold move by connections to drop him back to a mile first time out, but clearly the significant step back in trip was what he needed as he won readily from off the pace off a mark of 95.
He flopped in his follow-up bid, but again that disappointment came on testing ground and he is a much better horse on a sound surface.
The style of his first-time out success suggests he should at least remain extremely competitive off 100, and there are a few in here who like to get on with things so he should get the strong gallop he needs.
Both Kasbaan and Shelir were unlucky not to finish closer in a big 7f handicap here last month. They are both feared now stepped up to 1m.
I’m feeling similarly forgiving towards HOLY KINGDOM (3.00 Ascot) who never stood a chance at Newmarket last time.
He was held up in rear in a big 1m6f handicap, but they went no sort of pace and he was never really able to land a blow, keeping on late to finish eighth.
He wouldn’t have been overly happy on soft ground that day either. He finished a fine third at York last autumn on easy going, but his standout form has come on a faster surface.
He has long shaped as though he would relish the step up to this 2m trip and he was progressing nicely before his blowout at the July Festival. Tom Clover’s galloper is well worth another chance.
I’ll be having a little each-way saver on EDDYSTONE ROCK, who won the Shergar Cup stayers’ race 12 month ago.
He has a good record at this track, has slipped to a dangerous mark and top claimer Cieren Fallon takes off a valuable 3lb.
I think the market has got this race wrong and Jeremiah (3.35 Ascot) should be favourite.
He impressed when winning a hot handicap here last time, beating a well-handicapped horse in the process, and a 6lb rise mightn’t be enough to stop him.
However, that hugely improved performance came in first-time blinkers and the headgear doesn’t always have such a galvanising effect next time out.
The one who appeals most from an each-way perspective is KOEMAN, who was third behind Jeremiah over C&D 13 days ago.
That was his first run since a successful spell in Dubai, so he will no doubt strip fitter this time, and he endured a tough trip.
He gets a 7lb pull at the weights with his old rival and some of his career-best efforts have come at this track. He isn’t badly-treated, either.
At a massive price, I’ll be having a couple of quid each-way on HASANABAD. He will appreciate this quicker ground and he resented hold-up tactics last time. He stays further than this so could be dangerous if ridden more positively.
2.25 Ascot – Cap Francais 1pt win @ 8-1
3.00 Ascot – Holy Kingdom 1pt win @ 13-2; Eddystone Rock 0.5pts EW @ 12-1
3.35 Ascot – Koeman 1pt EW @ 16-1; Hasanabad 0.5pts EW @ 40-1 (already advised antepost)
4.35 Newmarket – Evening Sun 2pts win @ 6-4
Away from the ITV cameras at HQ, I fancy EVENING SUN (4.35 Newmarket) to get his head back in front.
The talented son of Muhaarar chased home the talented King Leonidas on his final two-year-old outing and readily opened his account on reappearance, despite suffering interference.
He was given a mountain to climb by Ryan Moore at Ascot last time – his rider was pretty much motionless 2f out before asking him for his effort and he picked up nicely to finish a closing third.
That performance is worth upgrading (and it’s a strong piece of form), so off an unchanged mark of 88 I’d expect him to take the world of beating under the in-form William Buick.
The main danger is Zegalo, who won nicely at Sandown, but his form lacks the same depth as the selection.