WITH less than six weeks to go until Royal Ascot, it’s nice to have a warm-up at the Berkshire course where it looks a typically competitive card.
The big betting race of the day is the Victoria Cup (4.00pm), with 27 runners battling it out up Ascot’s straight seven-furlong track.
There is always plenty of debate about the draw at Ascot and the last three winners of this race have come from stalls 23 or higher.
That doesn’t mean the trend is going to continue but the two horses I fancy most both have high draws so I’ll be hoping it does.
My first selection is THE WARRIOR who was unlucky not to win at Goodwood last Saturday, having met loads of traffic problems in the closing stages.
Amanda Perrett’s five-year-old has sneaked in at the bottom of the weights, with hopefully a decent draw in 25 and has the excellent 5lb claimer George Wood in the saddle.
He wasn’t beaten far in this race 12 months ago and with his rider’s claim, will effectively race off a 12lb lower mark tomorrow afternoon. Take the 18/1 with 188BET.
I’m also interested in BOSSY GUEST at 18/1 for Mick Channon following his fifth in the Spring Cup at Newbury last month.
He was fourth in the 2015 2,000 Guineas and a close-up sixth in last year’s Hunt Cup.
Channon’s horses are running well and this son of Medicean can go close under William Buick from stall 24.
I expect Owen Burrows’ patience with MOHATEM to be rewarded in the opening 1m 4f handicap (2.15pm).
Having only raced three times in two years, it is interesting that connections have stuck with the five-year-old, particularly after he failed to win either start last season.
They could have easily sold him, but opted to persist and a gelding operation in the winter looks to have done the trick.
He looked a reformed character when bolting up on his reappearance at Yarmouth last month, where he certainly wasn’t flattered by the three-length winning margin.
Most horses from the Burrows yard seem to be improving for that first outing of the campaign, so he is taken to defy a 7lb rise and go in again for his in-form stable.
There’s a good card some 200 miles north-west at Haydock, where I like the look of SO BELOVED in the Spring Trophy (2.45pm).
He landed this Listed prize 12 months, giving trainer David O’Meara back-to-back wins in the race after That Is The Spirit’s success in 2015, and I fancy So Beloved to bring home the hat-trick.
While he was hugely disappointing at Leicester on his seasonal reappearance a fortnight ago, I’m happy to put a line through that run.
Isolated on the stand side, he was simply on the wrong side and Ryan Moore held his hands up afterwards.
As one of only three horses in the race to have won in Group company I have no doubts about his ability and this appears to be the right time of year to back him as well.
The seven-year-old has notched three of his seven wins in the month of May and I fancy he’ll go close to making it four tomorrow.
Mohatem 2:15pm Ascot
So Beloved e/w 2:45pm Haydock
The Warrior e/w 4:00pm Ascot
Bossy Guest e/w 4:00pm Ascot