1.50 Ascot – Pretty Crystal @ 10/3
Some top trainers are represented here, especially regarding the handling of juveniles. Messrs Fahey, Boughey and Cox stand out from the pack on that score for me, and oddly enough provide the three deemed most likely to succeed by the layers. All are entered up in next month’s Lowther at York too, so lofty ambitions extend beyond this notable Group 3.
The one I like is Richard Fahey’s Pretty Crystal. Two runs so far – cosy debut win at Ripon, and a much-improved performance to finish a close-up fifth in the Albany at the Royal meeting.
She’s by Dubawi, and already this 6 furlongs is probably a bare minimum. Some dig in the ground is likely, and it could well help. As appetisers for what’s to come goes this is an absolute cracker, and I’m hoping Pretty Crystal can take this en route to that Group 2 engagement at the Ebor meeting.
2.05 York – Speedacus each-way @ 15/2
A quite brilliant initiative. Jump jockeys riding 5f flying machines down one of the flattest, fairest tracks we have. We’re paying FIVE places each-way, so that’s definitely the way we’re going with this one.
David O’Meara’s Speedacus might just be the improver that we need to get among those places. Career-best at Donny last time in an ordinary contest he was entitled to win, but showed in a Class 3 at Chester in June that he remains of interest in the sprint division.
Could hardly be with a better trainer, and gets the brilliant horseman Sean Bowen up top on Saturday. He won off 72 last time and is rated 76 here – but acts with cut in the ground, crucially.
In what’s of course an absolutely wide-open affair he can hopefully give us an e/w run for our money, on a day when the guys that run in Grand Nationals pretend they’re Ryan Moore. Magic.
2.25 Ascot – Random Harvest @ 11/4
An open-looking Group 3 for fillies and mares.
Random Harvest ran a stormer in the Duke of Cambridge at the Royal meeting; a career-best. Last time though in the Group 1 Falmouth at HQ she was seemingly out of her depth, though it’s possible that Newmarket just doesn’t suit. She’s yet to shine there after several visits, and the undulations might not be appreciated.
Her Ascot record is a whole lot more persuasive – a first, 2 seconds and a third by my reckoning – and the superb Saffie Osborne is on top, as per. She rode a tipped-up winner for us at Yarmouth on Thursday (Stone Circle, 17/2), and is hugely talented.
Random Harvest has won on soft ground before, in Italy, and can resume winning ways here for me before thinking about potential engagements at Goodwood and Leopardstown. Another absolute cracker in prospect.
2.40 York – Music Society each-way @ 11/1
Another sprint, 6f this time, with regular pilots who are used to travelling at this speed!
Some fabulous old heroes line up to do battle, it’s wide-open yet again, and finding an each-way shout (we’re paying 4 places) is definitely the way I’m leaning.
I love Summerghand but the 9-yr-old legend, though slipping down the weights, hasn’t really caught fire recently. Let’s hope he’s got a few surprises left yet, at some point.
Music Society is going the right way for in-form Tim Easterby, and is just 1lb higher than his last winning mark. Excellent effort in second at Ayr last time and is admirably consistent.
Tends to see out his races well too, handles cut, and being drawn in the 7 box should be able to join the inevitable peloton handily-placed, hurtling down the centre in these ultra-competitive York dashes.
3.00 Ascot – Bopedro each-way @ 22/1
Red-hot, wide-open handicap – and we’re paying SIX PLACES! It’s fives-the-field material for a 7f cavalry charge, so an each-way fancy at a tasty price is surely what’s required.
One horse leaps out as having an excellent chance of going close – David O’Meara’s Bopedro. Hollie Doyle was in the saddle last time at HQ over a mile, and the experienced gelding finished a closing third. She retains the mount, significantly for me.
Over this trip in the Buckingham Palace at the Royal meet he finished 6th, running on, beaten only 3l. He’s much-travelled, and by my reckoning is on his SIXTH different trainer! His efforts remain exemplary, and though would doubtless appreciate a little respite from the handicapper his consistency makes that difficult. He runs here off 100, but early last summer had a mark of 107.
We don’t want him getting away too tardily, which can be a factor, but look forward to Hollie making significant late gains and, fingers crossed, hunting up the principals.
3.15 York – Alflaila @ 4/1
Quality over quantity this time for a Group 2 over the Juddmonte trip. 9st 8lb is the steadier that all 5 entries will carry, but My Prospero is comfortably the highest officially rated horse, at 121. His chance then is undeniable.
The one I’m keen on though hasn’t run for 294 days – Alflaila, for Shadwell, Owen Burrows, and Jim Crowley. Last August, in the Strenshall at the Ebor meeting, this one sluiced up over nine furlongs and went on to take a Group 3 at HQ in October. He’s not been seen since.
Encouragingly he holds a Juddmonte entry for next month here on the Knavesmire, and if he’s in the kind of shape he was when last seen this could be a very exciting few months for connections.
Mashmoor is a fascinating challenger from Ireland – up in class, but a winning machine of late and just keeps improving. A wonderful little contest with the small matter of about seventy-grand to the winner.
3.40 Ascot – Pyledriver each-way @ 7/1
As good a King George potentially as I’ve seen in several years. Hopefully a rematch between the Epsom 1-2 Auguste Rodin and King Of Steel, plus of course the older brigade looking to turn away the upstart 3-yr-olds.
Superb filly Emily Upjohn represents the fairer sex, and it just looks every inch a Group 1.
Pyledriver is a 6-yr-old entire, and the reigning King George champion. He’s very lightly raced these days, but only keeps the very best of company. Habitually comes there cruising on the steel then runs around like an excited teenager, annoying those in his path. Never a dull moment.
Talented, though? You bet. Sole run this term was in the Hardwicke, here in June, where he did all the above before running out a ready winner.
He’s got a very tough field to overcome, and I especially like another older horse, Hukum. Represents Shadwell, and is a son of the great Sea The Stars, who perhaps surprisingly never ran in this race.
Of the younger brigade King Of Steel appeals, and I understand Luxembourg is quietly fancied to outrun his odds. One to savour, with Pyledriver advised each-way but what a wonderful puzzle.
Have an enjoyable afternoon’s sport, there are some undeniably compelling contests, and let’s hope for a bit of luck along the way. Main thing, as always – take care.