In addition to featuring one of the best races of the season on Saturday, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Ascot also features one of the most competitive in the shape of the Cash Out Multiples Only On Betfair International, which is live on Channel 4 at 3.15.
Needless to say, picking a winner from a 29-strong field in a 7f handicap at Ascot is the devil’s own job, but in QUEENSBERRY RULES I reckon I’ve solved this ultra-tricky puzzle.
If the races on the straight course at last month’s royal meeting are a reliable guide, it’s an advantage to be drawn high when the ground is riding fast. Consequently, I was delighted to see that William Haggas’ charge has landed stall 22 – and equally delighted to see that Ryan Moore will again be doing the steering.
The lightly-raced three-year-old has already shown himself to be a tactically versatile colt, and proved that the rigours of a big-field Ascot handicap hold no terrors for him when third in the 27-runner Britannia Stakes at the royal meeting. He was beaten less than a length on that occasion and, you could argue, was unlucky not to get his head in front.
I very much doubt that dropping to 7f will be an issue, particularly with the pace likely to be frenetic from the word go in this heritage handicap, and I’m expecting Moore to make a bit more use of the son of Teofilio this time.
With ante-post favourite Diescentric pulled out owing to the fast ground, Queensberry Rules’ task has been simplified somewhat. Loving Spirit would have been a strong each-way fancy but for his low draw, while Redvers hasn’t been dealt a kind hand in that respect either, so the progressive Ashaadd and Jonny Murtagh’s mount Prince of Johanne are feared most.
Channel 4’s coverage commences with the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes. Wind Fire sets the standard based on her cracking effort in the Norfolk Stakes last time, but I’m siding with QUEEN CATRINE in the hope that she settles better compared to when third at Newmarket last time. She looked good when winning an Ayr maiden on her penultimate start.
The Deloitte Handicap features several progressive types. Cape Peron did well to finish fifth in the Britannia on ground that was quicker than ideal, but conditions won’t be ideal this time either and TARIKHI, who was runner-up in that contest at the royal meeting, is the one to be on.
The Godolphin colt subsequently finished a creditable third behind Maputo in a 1¼m handicap at Newmarket’s July meeting. The latter looks a pattern-class performer in the making, so the fact that Tarikhi races off the same mark here heightens his appeal, as does the drop back in trip to a mile.
The pick of the three C4 races from York in terms of prestige is the Sky Bet York Stakes, a valuable Group 2 contest. Disappointingly, just six runners have been declared but Paul Hanagan won’t mind, as his mount MUKHADRAM appears to have a straightforward task ahead of him.
The four-year-old is an improved performer this term, building on his fine reappearance win in a Group 3 at Sandown by finishing in the money in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the Coral-Eclipse. Hanagan has opted to travel to the Knavesmire to partner Mukhadram rather than Ascot to ride Ektihaam in the King George, and it’s a decision that the colt will vindicate.
2.05 Queen Catrine
3.15 Queensberry Rules
2.20 Sirius Prospect