ASCOT CHAMPIONS DAY: 2018
A small preview of the feature race meeting on Saturday, which signals the final time we can see some of the Champions of the flat turf run here in England this year. Has always proven to be a bit of a difficult one over the years due the typical October weather we get here, but none the less it's a cracking day of racing to be enjoyed by all fans of the sport. Good luck if your having bet tomorrow!
1.25 - LONG DISTANCE CUP (TWO MILES, GROUP TWO)
Not always the easiest race on our pocket over the years, the Long Distance Cup kicks off Champions Day on Saturday & this year only seven go to post for the staying contest. I see a lot of online polls & debates about which has been the most entertaining horse on the flat this year & whilst Enable is a worthy adversary STRADIVARIUS has been thoroughly enjoyable to watch & I have always been a fan. He's been to all the dances this year & shown his class every time he's been asked to & the turn of foot he possess for a two miler is quite something else. Betting aside, after all this is Champions Day, I hope he gives us racing fans one more show of what he's capable of, as he has been a Champion through out the year. He's had a two month break which will help & the only worry is the ground, he clearly prefers it quick, but has hardly disgraced himself on the softer surface. Again it takes no genius to spot FLAG OF HONOUR is the chief threat but he's also been beat on softish ground so it will be interesting to see what happens. It would be typical if Willie Mullins crashed the end of season flat do & won this with THOMAS HOBSON, he certainly won't mind the ground one bit & is probably the E/W value if your that way inclined.
Im happy to let this race pass without much investment. Stradivarius for win purposes & Thomas Hobson the E/W angle, if being forced to throw coins at it. I will be cheering home Stradivarius as the horse is a joy to watch on his day & lets hope we get one more show of the class he holds before the only staying races we will be watching will be over the hedges for six months.
2.00 - CHAMPIONS SPRINT STAKES (SIX FURLONGS, GROUP ONE)
I think many punters will be looking at this as a real chance to back something carrying a bit of E/W value, because we don't have anything just of yet too short in the market. This race has been one Ive looked at so many times & you can easily back 4/5 of these & have a place chance. It's a shame we can't be real maggots & have four places on offer as only 14 go to post before non runners. Im not going to blab on here, but call me a mad man but I am going to give Harry Angel another go. I think his price is actually a smidgen big at the current odds & is an E/W bet to nothing. I hear many people say he hates Ascot & he's been beat here enough times to be labelled crazy to back him again, but if he didn't fall out of the stalls here last year (Should not of been let to run & no I did not back him!) he would of won that race. I know it's a case of "If" but he was 5/4 to do so that day, and again I did not back him, but surely at his price today he's worth chancing he bounces out of the stalls. He won't mind a bit of jar in the ground & he is a genuine 120+ rated sprinter. I hope he bounces back & whilst I won't blame you for not following me, I think he's a very fair E/W price. Like I said at the start I could back more then 3/4 here & having backed THE TIN MAN in this last year, on his day he's the chief threat but not an E/W price in a competitive contest. Of the really bigger prices, I would not be surprised to see PROJECTION put in a big run, now he has picked up the winning thread.
HARRY ANGEL 6/1 E/W
2.40 - FILLIES AND MARES (ONE MILE & FOUR FURLONGS, GROUP ONE)
Another Group One, this time for the ladies over a mile & a half. Again just like the opener hard to see this being a race I have too much investment with over the duration of Saturday. Three year olds have a good record in the race & LAH TI DAR is the favourite at prohibited odds. She's a brilliant filly & I would mark her win in that listed race at York in August as one of the best performances, in the circumstances that she had to prove it that day, of the year. She comes here to tackle a new course & I don't think the ground will hinder her. The St Leger looked a gruelling race on her, but she is still relatively lightly raced so she may still have some left in the tank. I just can't get excited about putting her in a single bet at the odds, she's probably going to be one to roll up with some other favourites if your inclined to play that way & wouldn't put you off. Regular followers will know that I am a huge fan of CORONET & had put her up as a three year old to follow last year when she was relatively unknown to the more casual racing fan. She will be here to scrap & she stays the trip well, she will be there or there abouts & is probably the E/W bet to nothing if I were to be forced. KITESURF was a winner in France when taking the Vermille at Longchamp last month, bit concerned with the ground with her, but she is a very worth opponent. HYRDRANGEA is the only other one I could think about backing, but it's anyones guess which version of her shows up. She won this last year & after being thrashed in the King George on quick ground, she will love the return to some dig here tomorrow.
Without wanting to repeat myself not a race I am going to be shaping my punting around on Saturday afternoon. I wouldn't begrudge Lah Ti Dar winning, but her odds don't do anything for me. CORONET perhaps worth a very small E/W tickle as is HYDRANGEA who may surprise a few. Best of luck if you do have a serious play here, you may need it as fillies & mares races can & often do throw up surprises.
3.15 - QEII (ONE MILE, GROUP ONE)
Lets face it, the Group One mile division is as weak as it has been for some years now, not sure I can remember a time where it's been this bad. There is no out & out star in the division & that's been seen in some of the winners that have popped up to win over the trip in the big races this year. ROARING LION has been a funny horse for me, as he started off the year very slow, but has since shone through the ranks as possibly one of the best three year olds we have bar the Derby winner. Although I must add the three year old division, especially the colts, this year has not been vintage, sorry to sound like a damp squib. On the other hand the fillies have been a bit better & LAURENS has been top of the class on many occasions, she is so likeable too as she simply loves a scrap & is a punters dream as she gives it her all. I probably had my biggest bet on her when she lost in the Yorkshire Oaks & Ive still got scars, but she recouped some back for me when she won last time out at Newmarket in the Sun Chariot stakes. Im just worried the boys might make this rough & she may find herself ganged up on by bigger horses, still she is the only horse I would want to back E/W in this just in case she does pull it off. Bar RECOLETOS, who I do think is the chief threat, I am not a fan of many of the others at this level, as mentioned the mile division at the top level beyond the three year olds is not great & I am going to side with the youngsters to shine. Worth mentioning there are FIVE other three year olds running here, but I think the two headliners in the betting hold by far the strongest form lines.
Im hardly discovering gold by suggesting the selections for this, but would have to back ROARING LION to win with LAURENS E/W & in the place markets. If they are beat then be prepared to be bored stiff over a mile next year in the Lockinge when the flat returns, as there really isn't no superstar currently & I would love one of the three year olds to shine.
ROARING LION 9/4 WIN & LARUENS 8/1 E/W
3.50 - CHAMPIONS STAKES (ONE MILE, TWO FURLONGS, GROUP ONE)
Last, but not least, the showpiece of the day & year for flat racing, the Champion Stakes. A race that in recent years never seems to attract the star names it perhaps should, but then thats what you get for a running a big race like this in the middle of October! I love this race most years, New Approach, Cirrus Des Aigles, Frankel, Noble Mission & last years winner Cracksman my favourites in recent years. However I am a bit disappointed with the turn out this year, lets just hope we get a performance from one of them to make up for it. I love CRACKSMAN even if he has not had a brilliant 2018, it's worth noting he has only ran three times, & have been a fan of the horse since his debut. Personally, I always wanted him to rock up in the Arc through out this year after they cancelled the trip to Dubai in February, but given after what we saw Enable do it was probably best he did skip that. Like quite a few races on the Ascot card today, this won't be another that carries heaps of my money & perhaps may end up carrying none. On his A game Cracksman thrashes these but I just wonder about how much time he has missed this year & at his odds I am happy to just cheer him on & hope he brings the roof down with another effort like last years devastating win. Might be one to throw in a Gosden Treble. CRYSTAL OCEAN is a very worthy opponent here, although yet to win a Group One, he has only been denied by some top horses in Enable & Poet's World. If push comes to shove I think Cracksman on his A game beats him, but I certainly can't be confident as to which Cracksman turns up, especially in blinkers! You can sometimes sit back & enjoy a race as a fan of the sport away from betting. Some of my regular readers will know I do a daily stats/trends page & like to throw up some wacky priced selections on crazy theories/trends that I come up with. Here we have just one three year old in VERBAL DEXTERITY who has not been seen much this year, ran some creditable races last year & will love the soft ground tomorrow. He finished 4th in the Racing Post Trophy last year & he has not had his ground this year, he could be the possible E/W shout at a price for those that like to be brave backing an outsider or two.
As mentioned above no huge involvement punting wise for me here, I will be cheering CRACKSMAN on & may have him in a muggy multiple for small stakes during the day. I hope he shows us one more time his class & if he runs anything like last year he can hand out a hiding to a rather poor field for a Group One. As also mentioned VERBAL DEXTERITY may get a sprinkle in the place markets for a bit of spice.
4.30 - BALMORAL HANDICAP (ONE MILE, CLASS TWO)
Nice to see the card end with a class two handicap with twenty runners. This will be for many a get out of jail race & for others I could see it as probably the most popular betting race of the whole card. E/W places galore to go for & you can make a solid case for around 80% of them.
Ive gone with SAFE VOYAGE & MJJACK as my two against the field. Huge fan of that win in Ireland for Safe Voyage with the form of the race working out fairly & he has been given a break by the Quinn team. Mjjack is a horse we have backed since his debut run & has won countless times for me. He's a bit high in the weights, but has a good attitude & if in contention a furlong out he will fight to the line. I am not going to let him go unbacked at this price, in what is a very competitive finish to the Ascot card on Saturday.
SAFE VOYAGE 9/1 E/W & MJJACK 33/1 E/W