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Ascot handicaps preview

While the black type races might be spread out elsewhere, there's plenty of competitive racing at Ascot as well. Step forward Jack Milner, @jjmsports, with his take on the three main races on the card.

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While I will have my attentions completely fixated on Lancashire and more specifically Haydock Park on Saturday afternoon, despite some good rugby, an ashamedly poor version of a game called cricket that I know and love being ripped off and downsized, as well as good golf, domestic football and racing at Leopardstown, the best value for us hardened handicappers comes from Ascot. The Ladbrokes Mobile Handicap with nearly £100,000 to the winner. That feature is over a mile and a half, but there are similarly hot contests over five, seven and eight furlongs respectively.

The 3:10 is a fillies’ handicap over seven furlongs, and although the prize money doesn’t compare to the illustrious amounts of the three latter races, it is in no way less competitive.

A seventeen runner field where Speedi Mouse holds favouritism on the back of two wins, three in four starts, with booked ride Nicole Nordblad, who takes off a useful 7lb in the plate. Both wins have come at Newmarket, and she is 19lb higher than her mini spree started back in June, she will no doubt give a solid account, but place claims for me. The Hannon team generally under perform at Ascot in handicaps, and have a poor record outside of two year old races. which would all but rule out Dare to Dream. A trainer who does thrive in this format is William Haggas who has Diala, who keeps creeping down the weights, after flopping in the 1000 Guineas. She may suit dropping back to seven furlongs, but after backing her and being extremely under par last time out, in lieu with other runs this season, it may just be a case of her not training on. The stereotypically filly who wins this type of race towards the back end of the season is unexposed, lightly raced and from respected connections. Catherine Laboure is interesting, but would have to win from 2lb out of the handicap, something I don’t like doing. As is The Giving Tree who was much better when coming back down to a mile last time out. The stand out filly in the line-up looks to be CHIGUN for Sir Henry Cecil and Eddie Ahern. She bolted up in her maiden at the fourth attempt, winning by ten lengths. She then followed that up by trying to make all in a hot Goodwood handicap over nine furlongs, tiring late on. Dropped 1lb, and back down to a mile should suit her ideally, and the stable are in cracking nick.

The ‘Fly London Southend Airport Handicap’ is one of these Ascot speciality seven furlong handicaps with a bumper field and an even bigger bumper prize fund. You see these trip specialists turn out time and again, but rare do you see repeat winners; such is the handicapping system here in the UK. As such, although you could see the likes of Imperial Guest, Field of Dreams and Primaeval running well, you can’t realistically see them winning, Mick Channon has a relatively poor record around Ascot, which would put a line through Arnold Lane and Atlantic Sport. Memory Cloth loves the mud, and the likes of Mabait, Xilerator, King of Jazz and Don’t Call Me seem to have lost their way. Smarty Socks won the race last year, and has shown glimpses of form, he is a dark horse if the money comes for the infamous David O’ Meara yard. The shortlist would involve a few that seem relatively well in, and are often bridesmaids rather than the bride, so although they seem a bit of a monkey, they are well handicapped. The first of these is BANNOCK who ran a close second in a listed race at York before third in a good handicap at Chester last week. His record reads 23-3-6-3, but Michael J Murphy claiming seven has an unbelievable record for Mark Johnston, three wins and a second for four previous booked rides. Similarly GLOBAL VILLAGE for Brian Ellison. He won a course and distance handicap in May, and has finished fourth in two subsequent runs, never far away. He is likely to place more than win however. The top of the shortlist is EXCELLENT GUEST for Shane Kelly and George Margarson, who excels in these races, as seen with Imperial Guest. The five year old’s record over course and distance reads 312000, but he looks to have been set up for this, running his last two starts over a mile, he should be sharp and fit enough for this and a further autumn campaign.

The feature, the Ladbrokes Mobile Handicap has nineteen runners, and a wealth of prize money for the three year olds, and it has the old adage of a fair few group horses hiding in the shadows attempting to pretend to be handicappers. As mentioned before, William Haggas is the man to watch and his Sun Central, who went the widest course of all last time out at Ascot, and still won with plenty to spare. Before that he was behind Gospel Choir, when they were on marks of 82 and 84. Now up 10lb and 12lb respectively, they are open to more progression, but looks plenty well handicapped. Haggas also has Stencive, but he looks the second string. Mark Johnston has three in the form of Modernism, Fennell Bay and Scatter Dice, but none have the looks of an unexposed lurker. Jeremy Noseda’s yard are going well so it would be no surprise to see Harvard N’ Yale run well, after once being lauded as a future Kentucky Derby hopeful. The most interesting runners are the Sir Robert Ogden pair of MARTIN CHUZZLEWHIT and CASTILO DEL DIABLO for Sir Michael Stoute and David Simcock respectively. The first, whom I tipped up and fancied at York, was seriously hampered a furlong out when in front, and ran a blinder. He is still unexposed, and Robert Winston is booked, who has a good record this season for Stoute (two wins and a second from five rides), he remains unexposed. As does Castilo Del Diablo, who has gradually improved in maiden company, winning arguably one of the strongest maidens of the season over a mile and a half at Newmarket. The colt was still green and hung towards the end on only his third ever run. Exceptionally well bred, and the form of the subsequent runners has worked out as 1141, he also remains open to the world and then some.

3.10 Ascot – Chigun – The Giving Tree – Speedi Mouse
3.45 Ascot – Excellent Guest – Bannock – Global Village
4.15 Ascot – Martin Chuzzlewit – Castilo Del Diablo – Sun Central

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