Seymour Biz has generously provided previews of 6 big races at Ascot and advises a Lucky 63 each-way bet. He backs Harry Angel to race with a cool head and put an erratic outing at Haydock firmly behind him.
This Saturday we have to all intents and purposes the last day of the flat season with Champions day at Ascot. The television cameras are concentrating solely on that meeting so it is difficult to find much value for the ordinary punter with the fare on offer. However as this meeting takes place in the middle of October when the going is usually soft, and some of the great horses taking part are coming into their winter coats after being on the go since May, it is eligible to throw up a few surprises. Looking at the statistics only 7 favourites have won the 5 stakes races in the last 5 years, that’s almost a 1 in 4 strike rate for the 25 races. On top of that 11 of the past winners in the same races over the past 5 years have been 6/1 or better. As the going is declared as heavy, soft in places, I think we will see one or two surprises again this year with the soft ground specialists coming to the fore. Based on these facts here are my thoughts for this year with an each-way Lucky Fifteen for the best value prices.
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We start at 1.25 with the Quipco British Champions Long Distance Cup over 2 miles. Stradivarius is unbeaten this year and is the stand out horse for the race, he is also the bookmakers choice. His form is excellent on the good or good/ firm he has found this summer at York, Goodwood or here at Ascot, winning four on the trot. He has had Desert Skyline behind him on every occasion and he should frank that form. Thomas Hobson was a fine winner of the Doncaster Cup, but I can’t help feeling he beat very little that day. Weekender has run consistently for John Gosden this year but I don’t think he is really a two mile horse. So we come to Aidan O’Brien’s entries, all five of them! Flag Of Honour has been supplemented this but he has never won outside Ireland, he came to Chester in May and ran a poor fifth. Kew Gardens, the Leger hero, has only ever won on good or better going, as has Cypress Creek. That leaves Capri and Sir Erec, the latter has won in Ireland but never over further than 1m4f. Capri will relish the going and won over 1m 7f at Doncaster the end of last season, he is my idea of the winner.
The Quipco British Champions Sprint Stakes is at 2.00, and The Tin Man aims to follow up his great victory in the Sprint Cup at Haydock. It was heavy underfoot so the Ascot Turf won’t be a problem however it’s a big ask for him to repeat the form of that day. Brando was second that day and may be able to reverse the placings, he has won on soft as a 3 and 4 year old so will be suited by the going. Last years winner Librisa Breeze is back to defend his crown but his form this year does not give me much hope for his chances this time round. I just cannot see that Harry Angel has become a bad horse overnight, he got upset again at Haydock and ran far too freely, but only weakened over the last 100 yards. I take him to overcome his Ascot hoodoo, behave himself in the stalls and take the contest.
At 2.40 is the Quipco British Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes which is supposed to be a shoe in for John Gosden’s Lah Ti Da. Her second to Kew Gardens in the Leger was a very good performance, it was only her inexperience that let her down that day. However she has only ever won on good going and it remains to be seen if she copes with the Ascot mud. Andre Fabre has Kitesurf in the lineup, and his filly has won her last two races really well at Deauville and Longchamp. She swerved the Arc meeting to concentrate on this and has won on soft earlier in her career. O’Brien has 8 declared for this, the best of which is probably Hydrangea, last year’s winner, however she has had a poor season by her standards and I think the trainer has others with better chances. One of which is Magical, who was tenth in the Arc beaten 5 1/2 lengths, she has won on soft and can go well here.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes is at 3.15 over the straight mile. The french raider, Recoletos, is the bookmakers choice here. He is a soft ground specialist and his win at Longchamp last time out was an excellent performance, he had rivals Expert Eye, Lightning Spear and Without Parole behind him that day. William Haggas’s Addeybb is well fancied and had two good wins earlier in the season including the Lincoln, he has been off the tracks all summer due to the going. I know he goes well fresh but I can’t help thinking his trainer would have liked to get a run into him prior to this. Rhododendron looks the best of the O’Brien runners, having won on soft at Chantilly in October last year. Laurens has been supplemented by Kevin Burke, her win at Newmarket when she had several of these behind her has set her up for this and the going should be no problem. But I like the look of Simon Crisford’s Century Dream. Disqualified from third in the USA last time, she has won over the course and distance on soft and could well do it again.
At 3.50 is the Quipco Champion Stakes over 1m 2f. This is probably the most exciting race on the card with last years winner Cracksman out to defend his Middle Distance title against stablemates Roaring Lion and Monarchs Glen. It is to be hoped the former takes his chance but he has never won on soft. Monarchs Glen, however, has won on soft at Goodwood. His win in the Wolferton at Royal Ascot was a Group 1 performance, and although he won’t have Dettori on his back, I am sure Gosden will have an able replacement. Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean ran on the all-weather at Kempton behind Enable last time and he will be fit for this, he is a course winner and has won on soft, so a good run is expected. Aidan O’Brien has Magic Wand in this, after a good win at Chester in May the filly followed that up with a win at Royal Ascot in June. Her latest run was a good second at Longchamp behind Wild Illusion, if she can repeat that form she may well take a place.
The final race on the card is a big handicap, tho only one on the card. At 4.30 the Balmoral Handicap always attracts a high class field and this year is no exception. Raising Sand is favourite for this contest after his win here earlier in the month after running on well to win by 2 lengths. He had several of these behind him that day including Ripp Orf and Flaming Spear and although this is an extra furlong and Raising Sand has 6lbs extra, I cannot see any of those protagonists reversing that result. I can’t help looking at a Safe Voyage to the South Seas, the former trained by John Quinn has had two fine wins, latterly at Galway and has been laid out for this. South Seas, trained by Andrew Balding, has been similarly raced with this contest in mind, his second to the top class Enigmatic on goo/soft was a fine run. There are several others I could make a case for but I will mention Fire Brigade. If he gets into the handicap he could run well off a low weight.
Saturday Each-Way Lucky 63
2.00 Harry Angel
3.15 Century Dream
3.50 Monarchs Glen
4.30 South Seas