Lingfield Derby Trial Day | King of Ascot

Sandown, Chester, and York Tips

After keeping our head above the water through the first two days of the Chester May Festival, I was hopeful that we could head into Lingfield Derby Trial Day in a nice position.

However, yesterday didn’t go to the script as Boardman stayed on past horses in the opener, Mashhoor went too hard too soon in the Huxley Stakes, and both of the Chester Cup fancies (despite the late support for Too Friendly) failed to fire.

To round up the day, Chillhi pulled four-and-a-half lengths clear of the third but found the Tony Carroll-trained Oman too good. That hurt.

So, let’s pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off as here are my main plays for Saturday.


1:30 Ascot – King Of The Plains @ 11/2 with William Hill (5 places) – 1pt EW

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In the opener at Ascot, King Of The Plains holds plenty of intrigue on his first start for James Horton.

Starting with his form, he ran into Banderas (a horse who was third to Saint George and Sweet William at Southwell in April 2023) at Chester on his debut before a solid second to Ghara when giving weight away.

The winner that day now has a rating of 93 and finished fourth in the Listed Lingfield Oaks before that race, so that form looks solid.

By Roaring Lion out of the two-time Group 1 winner Golden Lilac, he is entitled to improve massively now he is a four-year-old as he didn’t race at two and he looks like a big-framed gelding.

However, one of the more interesting things is the fact that Qatar Racing sold him 47,000gns at the Tattersalls HIT Sale in October, though David Redvers – the racing manager to Qatar Racing – is still one of the part-owners.

Redvers is also the racing manager to David Howden, one of the other part-owners, and today is the day that Oisin Murphy (one of the retained riders for Qatar Racing) is having his first ride for Horton.

I’ll give a quick word to Tony Calvin who highlighted this first in his Betfair Racing column. He worked this all out and I’m just passing on the information here, but this is all very interesting nonetheless.

Off a mark of 82, he should have some improvement to come and today’s assignment looks like an ideal place to start that progress.


2:05 Ascot – Strong Impact @ 11/2 with SkyBet (5 places) – 1pt EW

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Moving onto the second race at Ascot, Strong Impact is a horse that can improve past her mark of 81 in this £45,000 fillies’ handicap.

The four-year-old by Saxon Warrior had a decent three-year-old campaign as she ran into Infinite Cosmos – the Group 3 Musidora Stakes third – on her second career start before a good second over 1m4f at Newmarket.

That race got a form boost when Sumo Sam won the Group 2 Park Hill Fillies’ Stakes at Doncaster and even the fourth, Marmara Sea, won a handicap off 75 at Haydock in September.

Since then, she bolted up at Epsom in a race she was entitled to win (though she clocked some fast sectionals this day) and then she blew off the cobwebs at Chelmsford in April.

Although she’s unsuccessful in two handicap contests, she finished second in the first one at Sandown where she ran into a Sir Mark Prescott horse who had recently stepped up in trip.

Strong Impact was also boxed in for a while and the winner got the first run on her, so his performance was better than the bare result.

Back on the turf, the return to eight furlongs is interesting as her dam won on good to firm over a mile, so this change in distance doesn’t put me off.


2:40 Ascot – The Wizard Of Eye @ 7/1 with Bet365 (6 places) – 1pt EW

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In the Victoria Cup, the trainer change from Stan Moore to Charlie Fellowes makes The Wizard Of Eye extremely interesting off a career-low mark of 99.

Still with the same connections as before (minus former trainer Stan Moore), the five-year-old is a Group-level performer who struggled to land a blow last season.

The Galileo Gold chestnut has had a gelding operation since his last run in September 2023 and he has a good record when fresh as his two best performances on RPRs came when returning from a break.

He also ran in last season’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes and he was one of the last to come off the bridle, but Kieran Shoemark found himself in too much traffic, so ninth was the best he could secure.

The conditions of a Victoria Cup (strong pace, good ground, straight seven furlongs) should play to his strengths and if Fellowes has got any improvement out of him, he has plenty of scope to do damage of a mark of 99.


3:50 Haydock – Indian Run @ 13/2 with Boylesports – 1pt EW

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Finally, in order not to make this an Ascot-exclusive betting column, I’m chancing the three-year-old Indian Run in the Listed Spring Trophy Stakes at Haydock.

Although a three-year-old hasn’t scored in this race over the last 10 years, Holguin nearly won last year’s renewal and Happy Power ran a good race in 2019.

Comparably, this year’s rendition looks like a winnable race and Indian Run made a good impression at York last year when he won the Group 3 Acomb Stakes.

He beat Ballymount Boy that day, form that looks good as he won a Listed race on his next start and he was second to Vandeek in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes.

Furthermore, his debut run has worked out well as the winner, Starlust, finished third in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint behind Big Evs and the second, Array, subsequently won the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes.

With a few in here wanting slightly softer conditions, he’ll like the quick ground and he gets 12lbs from his elders.

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