A mud-splattered Ascot was no fun, either sporting-wise or financially, yesterday, with many horses struggling in the muck – only the breathtaking Stradivarius offered light in the gloom.. Friday always looked a day for caution, but the soft ground could throw up a few opportunities…
NAP OF THE DAY: Scarlet Dragon, (1640 Ascot), 1pt each way, 40/1 (first 6 places Skybet):
Hoping to save the best til last on a truly tricky Ascot day where treading lightly is the order of the day. This is a tough handicap, but we cannot understand the price on Alan King’s Scarlet Dragon. The stable have already lifted one handicap this week with a seemingly exposed older horse, and this one could follow in the hoofsteps. Admittedly there is not much to go on of late, but the key could be softer ground. Despite a long career, the Dragon’s only two soft ground 12f races have resulted in two Group 3 thirds, in 2017 and 2018, both of which merited a rating of 108. He turns up here off just 97, but with conditions to suit, a stable in form, and an in form Hollie Doyle doing the steering he looks a cracking each way poke at monster odds.
RACE OF THE DAY: Golden Horde, (1535 Ascot), 1pt win, 11/2:
This recently added Group 1 6f sprint for 3yos has attracted two different types. The Guineas rejects stepping back in trip include the speedy Millisle who was just too bad in the 1000G to warrant immediate support, and the intriguing Irish 2000G third Lope Y Fernandez, who definitely ran there like a step back would help. Against them are the reappearing pure sprinters headed by Pierre Lapin, who whilst definitely talented may prefer a quicker surface. Golden Horde did well on all ground in a strong 2yo campaign, including finishing well ahead of Lope when running the top notch Earthlight to a neck in the Group 1 Middle Park. That looks the best form in the book and he can make a winning reappearance.
Rest Of The Card
Art Power, (1310 Ascot), 1pt win, 5/2:
A pretty short price for this newly inaugurated 5f 3yo sprint handicap, but this is potentially far less competitive than the numbers imply. Art Power has a hugely progressive profile and was a fancy for the Group 1 Commonwealth later in the card. Has kept to shallower waters here, and a mark of 97 could prove too generous. It looks about right on his 2yo Doncaster soft ground maiden demolition job, but he looked better again n reappearance at Newcastle in a race that has already thrown up a few winners. Looks nicely drawn and very hard to beat. Dancin Inthestreet may be the biggest danger despite being out of the handicap.
Setarhe, (1350 Ascot), 2pts win, 7/1:
We were very impressed with how this filly overcame a slow start to come with a sustained effort to win her maiden at Newmarket on a day when very few horses made progress from the rear. That marked her out as much better than the bare form, and this test on a stiff track should be ideal. Was almost our nap of the day on a quiet day, but there are enough good opponents to just temper maximum enthusiasm, still we expect her to go very well.
Eye Of Heaven, (1425 Ascot), 1pt win, 7/4:
No real getting away from this Mark Johnston trained, Frankie-ridden 2yo hot-pot. Was very impressive on Newmarket debut when easily running down Get It and Tactical. That looks very impressive form after those two finished 4th and first respectively in the Windsor Castle here earlier int he week. The impression to the eye was that this fella had plenty in hand that day, and if he can find any improvement then he sets a standard the others will surely struggle to match.
Morando, (1500 Ascot), 1pt win, 6/1:
This is a tricky 12f race with Derby winner Anthony Van Dyjk an obvious favourite, but beaten in all 6 races since Epsom is surely a warning flag. Elarqam is a beautifully bred horse that we love, and his late rallying short head defeat to Lord North on reappearance looks stunning in retrospect. The issue here is trip, having already had a glittering 14 race career he tries 12f for the first time. The Haydock runs suggests it will suit, but it’s a doubt. Morando has no such doubts. He was 4th in this last year behind today’s rival Defoe on good ground, but his soft ground form is in another league. The more the rainstorms strike the better his chance. If it dries up he’s an each way fancy, but if there is any soft he becomes a legitimate winning option.
Berkshire Rocco, (1610 Ascot), 1pt win, 9/2:
A tricky staying race in which there has been plenty of money for the filly Born With Pride. She disappointed on her Kempton reappearance, although that form has proven to be superb throughout this meeting. She was at the stub end of that form though having been well beaten and looks short enough on this huge hike up in distance. The Aidan O’Brien pair, and the Godolphin runner, try this on seasonal debut, making them hard to assess either positively or negatively. Berkshire Rocco has had a run, when having to battle in a strong fight for the early lead in the Lingfield Derby Trial. Those early exertions left him exposed for the impressive English King, but there may be no disgrace in chasing him home, and it is to Rocco’s credit that he plugged in as runner up when the other early pace combatants had long faded away. May have the option of a solo lead here, or the chance to drop in, either way he looks a solid option in a race with precious few of those.
The Daily Yankee:
Art Power – Setarhe – Eye Of Heaven – Golden Horde
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