Today’s the day. It’s the finale of the flat. Ascot awaits. And with all the issue with the rain in the last few days, the markets have been changing from minute to minute. In an ever-fluctuating market, here are four horses I think can turn up on the biggest British racing stage.
2:25 – British Champions Filles’ And Mares’ Stakes (Group One) – Bluestocking @ 8/1 (Boylesports)
Bluestocking was in my notebook at the very start of the season and she hasn’t done too bad in her races. A decent second in the Irish Oaks was probably the highlight, when she finished half-a-length behind Savethelastdance on soft ground.
She’s acted on good-to-soft ground as well as losing by a neck last time out at Chester. The victor, Al Qraeem, came out and won at Ascot next time out so the form stacks up. Ralph Beckett won’t mind the move onto the inner track and has a live chance.
An each-way angle into this would be Henry de Bromhead’s Term Of Endearment. The move onto the inner track may mean that she won’t get her desired proper soft ground, but she has acted on yielding ground, finishing a narrow second to Lafayette in the Martin Molony at Limerick. She’s still backable at 14/1 (General)
A Rock & A Nash-Place
3:05 – Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group One) – Nashwa @ 4/1 (Boylesports)
This is probably the race of the day. We’ve waited all year for a match-up for Paddington and Tahyira, but both are not my pick. Instead, I think Nashwa represents the true value of the race. The soft ground over a mile is a perfect combination for John & Thady Gosden’s filly, and with plenty of pace in the race it should suit.
Paddington won’t be too far away and will certainly be up at the finish, but more questions surround the Matron Stakes winner.
Big Rock is quite clearly a big talking point and should turn up today. Whilst everyone is talking about the form behind Ace Impact, I’m more bothered about his performance in the Prix de Guice in May on French ‘heavy’ ground.
It would be similar to today on the straight track and puts him in a position to challenge. He’s up there on ratings and the French aren’t too bad at turning up on Champions Day either. Big danger at 7/1 (William Hill).
King’s Got A Point
3:45 – Champion Stakes (Group One) – King Of Steel @ 4/1 (General)
Mostahdaf is the current favourite due to the movement of the course, but I still think King Of Steel is the one to beat. He’s has been so good, but always been beaten by a better horse on their day.
I think Mostahdaf, whilst the highest rated, won’t perform on the ground; Horizon Dore has never looked like a favourite in my eyes; and Bay Bridge has come back too soon from the Arc.
King Of Steel has been prepped and aimed for this race, and Frankie will want the farewell he wants.
But an overpriced horse is Point Lonsdale. He’s Aidan O’Brien’s only runner in the race, but he still commands respect. His wins on soft and heavy earlier on in the season can’t be overlooked and was a pacesetter for his previous two runs.
The course movement is not ideal, but there’s still enough juice in the ground for him to be up at the finish after setting the fractions. 28/1 (BetUK) for an overpriced outsider.
A Testing Issue
4:25 – Balmoral Handicap (Heritage) – Migration @ 9/1 (BetUK)
Heavy is the way to go on the straight track tomorrow, and with a field of 20 only some few are likely to have form on the most extreme ground. Migration, despite top weight, is one of those.
He won the Lincoln on heavy ground at the start of the year but couldn’t follow up in Group company. Since then, he has been rested and has been waiting for the heavens to open and today, regardless of top weight, he’s got it.
As I have mentioned several times when tipping handicaps on the straight course at Ascot, David O’Meara loves them. Having put one of his horses up for one of these races has never yielded anything. The last time had a winner over the straight course in a big Ascot handicap was last year’s Balmoral.
Bopedro is their main hope this year, two pounds well in, and with a good draw. Near to the pace, he can act on ground he doesn’t prefer, but has acted on before, and deliver at 16/1 (BetVictor, BetUK) for O’Meara after a poor season.
The Gatekeeper is interesting at 50/1 (General) for the Johnston team. He acts really well on soft ground and is only two pounds higher than his latest win at Goodwood (won in the Stewards’ room). With testing conditions, and pace on his side, he can cause another barmy Balmoral upset.