It’s another small but select card at Ascot on Saturday, with six races between 13:50-16:45.

My selections include one in the featured Howden Challenge Cup – plus a confident pick for the G3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes earlier in the day.

Ascot Tips

  • 14:25 – Al Aasy @ 6/4
  • 15:35 – Hickory e/w @ 10/1

14:25 – Al Aasy @ 6/4

I don’t see many better bets on Saturday than William Haggas’ Al Aasy at 6/4 to win the G3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes.

After a couple of underwhelming seasons, the six-year-old son of Sea The Stars looks back to something like his best this term, winning a Listed race at Newbury in July before tasting Group 3 success at Haydock a month later.

Last time out, at Leopardstown, he narrowly missed out at the same level. He went down as an unlucky loser in my book, however, having been given far too much to do by Jim Crowley. I suspect he’ll be ridden much closer to the pace this time.

Track, trip and ground all suit, and it’s not a vintage field whatsoever. His main rival is probably John & Thady Gosden’s Israr, also for Shadwell Racing, but he has to concede weight after a lacklustre effort last time out. Al Qareem returned to form at Chester recently, beating the disappointing Bluestocking, but he has to improve again as that’s hardly outstanding form.

I expect Al Aasy to prove hard to beat here.

15:35 – Hickory e/w @ 10/1

Just over an hour later is the feature – the Howden Challenge Cup, the UK’s richest seven-furlong handicap with £92,772 to the winner. 18 runners bid to claim that prize.

Favourite to do so at time of writing is George Boughey’s Baradar at 11/2, but it’s Hickory at nearly double the price that takes my fancy.

James Fanshawe’s five-year-old was runner-up to Baradar over course and distance in July, beaten only half-a-length. The selection was in receipt of 9lbs that day, but gets over a stone here. He also benefits from a significant swing in the weights with Quinault, who beat him by two lengths the last day – again over C&D.

I’d be surprised if he’s not at least competitive off his unchanged mark of 89, so he rates an excellent each-way bet (with 5 places on offer) in a typically competitive event.

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