It’s been fast ground all week at Ascot but there is a real threat of heavy rain coming on Saturday to upset the party.
This makes analysis very hard to do the day before. We could easily have a completely different surface being raced on tomorrow and that could also change the draw bias (which has seemingly favoured low numbers in most big hcaps on the straight course this week)
Thoughts are below but it’s impossible to give any recommended bets until knowing the exact conditions and I’ll be holding fire with most of my bets until as long as possible if the heavens look like opening (will add anything on Twitter during the day tomorrow)
2.30 Chesham Stakes (2yos – 7 fur)
7 furlong races for 2yos will have been very thin on the ground so far this season. Many of the runners have a ‘novicey’ look to them at this stage and will be types that improve with age and distance.
You would think a horse that bears the name of the famous stables would have to be decent and Ballydoyle is the early favourite. That has a lot to do with the Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore combination I’m sure. The actual form of his only start is not the best in the race but he is entitled to improve.
Tonkinese has the best form for me and should really be the favourite here. Also from Ireland, the form of his debut third has worked out very well and he has subsequently won over this trip on fast ground. If the rain does arrive it may not be such an issue as his sire Authorised is an influence for soft ground performers
Mark Johnston’s filly Dessertoflife is also worth a mention if the rains come as she has already won over this trip on soft ground. That win was only 6 days ago though so will this race come too soon?
Selection; Tonkinese (4/1 each way with firms offering 1/4 odds 123)
4.05 Wolferton Hcap (4yo+ – 1ml 2 fur)
Niceofyoutotellme is a few pounds well in here if the form of his excellent 3rd in a Sandown Group race is taken at face value. He won’t appreciate any rain that might fall though.
Mahsoob and Collaboration have been ahead of the handicapper so far this season and probably still on the upgrade. The former is 9lb higher for his latest win and hasn’t raced on anything softer than good yet. Collaboration has gone up 7lbs for his latest win and in contrast he seems more effective when the word ‘firm’ isn’t in the going description.
Mount Logan was well behind Collaboration at Epsom on his seasonal reappearance but was involved in a barging match with another runner at the back of the field. He will be a lot better for that run and I can see winning races of his mark of 100 this season. He’s another for whom a lot of rain might be a negative and this trip may just be a bit shy of his best.
I can’t really give a selection here without knowing exactly what ground they will race on
3.40 Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2 – 4yo+ – 1ml 4fur)
With only 7 runners this has now lost its appeal as an each way heat.
I don’t think there is much between Telescope, Eagle Top and Postponed if the ground remains Good or better. I certainly don’t think that Telescope should be around 5/4 while the other two sit around 7/2.
Sir Michael Stoute’s charge (impressive winner of this race last year) won very well last time at Newbury but his rivals there were not of the same class as he faces here.
Anyone who follows my blog religiously will know I like Postponed and I have backed him Ante Post for this race when it was still possible to get each way with 3 places. He’s been running over too short a trip this season and the ground hasn’t been quick enough for him. He’s back over the trip where he comfortably disposed of Snow Sky at York last season
Neither Telescope or Postponed will really want too much rain to be getting in the ground.
Eagle Top has two lengths to make up on Telescope from King George form last season but was very inexperienced then and could well bridge that gap now.
He was given considerate handling on his reappearance and although he has never raced on ground softer than good, both his sire and dam were effective on it.
He could well be the one to be on if the ground becomes softer than good
It’s hard to imagine Hillstar (hampered at a crucial stage in this race last year) being fit enough to win on his seasonal debut
Quite apart from the ground issue there is another problem with this race though – there is no obvious front runner. It could be a messy tactical affair and that would dissuade me more from getting any further involved in this race.
Selection; on Good ground or faster – Postponed but if the rain falls and there is some soft in the description it will be Eagle Top
4.20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group 1 – 4yo+ – 6 fur)
Hard to know how good Australian raider Brazen Beau is who leads the betting (same applies to fellow Antipodean Wandjina). The Aussie hope in Tuesday’s King Stand only managed 13th despite being quite well fancied. I’d much rather rely on previous Ascot winner Mustajeeb but he’s a tiny bit skinny at around 5/1.
Tropics has been around a while and performed well at this level but he looked better than ever on his reappearance winning with a lot in hand despite the margin. A drop of rain will help him more than some of the others and he’ll be my main play if the forecast is right – hopefully 12/1 or more will still be available
I’ve been a fan of Music Master for a long time but he ran so badly at Haydock last time that I can’t support him here. ** since writing I’ve read a valid excuse for his last run – he was wearing a new bit and couldn’t breathe. 20/1 suddenly looks quite tempting!
Selection; Tropics (any rain increases his chances)
5.00 Wokingham Stakes (Hcap – 3yo+ – 6 fur)
Quite possibly this is the most difficult race to solve of the week. 28 runners and hard to dismiss anything totally – with only 12 lbs separating the field on official ratings.
A low draw has been favourable in big field handicaps on the straight course this week – if the rain holds off that has to be advantageous. If the rain does fall heavily who knows where the draw bias will be
I could write something equivalent of War and Peace if I summed up every horse here so will restrict to the three I have at the top of my shortlist:
Probably the most unexposed in the field, he got going late last time to dead heat for 5th at Newmarket. I think he has the potential to be a bit better than his mark of 100 as he gets more experience. Has a low draw which so far this week has been an advantage and he proably won’t mind a bit of rain
Dinkum Diamond 33/1
This 7yo has been a consistent type all of his life and seems to go on all surfaces. He dead heated for 5th with Gamesome at Newmarket and his mark is 1lb lower. The real standout is the jockey though with Edward Greatrex taking another 7lbs off his back. I’ve mentioned this boy before and he really is great value for his claim – a jockey going places. The claim effectively makes him bottom weight in this race with 8st 11lb on his back . He also has a low draw and I think he should be much less than the quotes of 25/1 -33/1 I have seen today
Robert le Diable 14/1
An interesting French raider who may be on the opposite side of the track in stall 20. He won’t be bothered by rain either and his mark of 104 is about 4-5lb below where I think it should be on his run behind Mecca’s Angel at Longchamp
I have backed all 3 of these each way already taking as many places as I can find offered. In such a race ¼ 12345 is a must have but take note of firms like Paddy Power who pay first 6
5.35 Queen Alexandra Stakes (4yo + 2ml 5fur)
The longest flat race in the calendar always attracts a few no hopers. There are 4 horses in the race with a hcap rating over 100 PLUS the totally unexposed Wicklow Brave from Ireland. His form is all National Hunt based but he looks highly useful when things go right for him.
Ryan Moore has an incredible strike rate riding for Willie Mullins and he may well prevail but at no more than 11/8 he is a very skinny price.
Times Up is getting quite old now and has stamina limitations beyond 2 miles. Oriental Fox hasn’t run for nearly a year so must have had some kind of setback.
We are left with Marzocco and Rawaki as the potential main rivals and I would normally be thinking of them as the each way horses to back. But with both it will be a complete stab in the dark to know if they will stay this trip and I’ll happily pass on this race
*Saturday Morning Update*
It was light drizzle at Ascot this morning but the ground had quickened a little since yesterday. With 6mm forecast before racing that really shouldnt make the ground much different from earlier this week. Hopefully what rain trhere is will just serve enough to keep the sting out of the ground so that it isn’t too firm.
This is good news for Postponed in the Hardwicke. I just hope the race isn’t too tactical and he isn’t forced into making the pace again as in his two starts this season. I do feel he is better coming from just off the pace in a strongly run race. A lack of pace will be just as much of a hinderance to him as it will the rest of the field though – this could all come down to jockeyship
Tonkinese shouldn’t mind the ground either way in the first and in the second race (after a bit more study) if I had to pick one ew at current odds it would probably be First Flight (value compared to Mahsoob on York running)
Tropics and Music Master remain bets in the Golden Jubilee with Hills paying 1/4 1234. Tropics wouldn’t have minded softer ground but hius record on Good to Firm is quite impressive. He saw too much daylight in this race last year and hope to see him pounce late on here.
Gamesome is being well backed in the Wokingham and the subject of Pricewise last night. He’s plenty short enough for such a competitive handicap but I’d really prefer to be on a low drawn horse now after what we have seen this week.
My one recommendation comes in that race with the previously mentioned Dinkum Diamond. It’s that 7lb claim that I really like and we know he is suited by this race as was 3rd in it on fast ground in 2013. He effectively carries a 4lb lower mark today and has shown no signs this season that he is on the downgrade.
I think he has a sound chance to hit the frame again from his low draw (Watchable in stall 1 likely to add some pace to that side as he did in Ayr Gold Cup)
Recommendation 0.75pts ew Dinkum Diamond – 28/1 (1/4 odds 12345 with 365, Sky, Tote/Betfred, BetVictor, Ladbrokes)
Good luck for the day and hope it’s been a successful week
Thanks for reading