Much is made of how stiff the finish is at Ascot, but while that allows horses to come from behind on the straight track, the round course is very different; most winners are well positioned at the entrance to the straight, and it’s doubtful whether Fleeting will be in the right spot despite a perfectly good draw.
15:05 – Hampton Court Stakes
The straight course can present problems for punters at Ascot but big-field races on the round course are simple enough. It is much harder to win from a low draw than anyone admits, and the general guff you will hear is that horses drawn near the rail are favoured. That is not borne out by results, and the one scenario in which such horses do well is when they can dictate terms as Circus Maximus did on Tuesday. If you’re drawn low in a big field and are a hold-up performer, you may as well stay at home, with Cape of Good Hope the first horse to take on.
Drawn in stall one isn’t necessarily the worst place to be, as several other single-digit stalls have a worse record, but the Perix du Jockey Club fourth has been held up in recent races, and if ridden the same way again will be in a terrible spot by the home turn, and could find it an impossible task to make up the ground.
He’s also from a family who need a sound surface, with siblings Idaho and Highland Reel both vulnerable on soft ground.
15:40 – Ribblesdale Stakes
I was reasonably keen on the chances of Fleeting in the Oaks, and she ran a screamer to be third, with many thinking her unlucky given the ground she made up from a poor position. I don’t really subscribe to that, for all she didn’t run the race in the most efficient manner, but she does seem best running through rivals, and she is not certain to enjoy either the ground or the different track here. Add to that that she has run two absolute clunkers in her short career to date, and she doesn’t look one to pile into at a short price.
Much is made of how stiff the finish is at Ascot, but while that allows horses to come from behind on the straight track; the round course is very different, with most winners well positioned at the entrance to the straight, and it’s doubtful whether Fleeting will be in the right spot despite a perfectly good draw.
I certainly couldn’t back her at 3.0 or shorter.
16:20 – Gold Cup
Cross Counter will be well backed here as punters try to oppose Stradivarius, but the reasons they use to take on the favourite are more applicable to the Melbourne Cup winner. The ground was given as good to soft when he won at Flemington, but it was like a carpet despite late rain, and will be nothing like the poached ground he races on here, while the Australians simply don’t do staying races, even over two miles, and the Godolphin gelding won because he has excellent tactical speed at the two mile trip.
He would have beaten Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup given a crack, but he will not be beating him over 2½ miles around Ascot, with the latter having defied softish ground to win the Champion Long Distance Cup here in the autumn, and a horse who relishes a battle.
- 15:05 Place lay Cape of Good Hope @ 2.6 or shorter to win 10pts [max liability 16pts]
- 15:40 Lay Fleeting @ 2.9 or shorter to win 10pts [max liability 19pts]
- 16:20 Lay Cross Counter @ 5.5 or shorter to win 6pts [max liability 27pts]