David Simcock’s three-year-old was hugely impressive that day and will take some pegging back if reappearing in the same form. He was slightly disappointing last time back up in trip on soft ground in France and it could well be that the drop back to six furlongs will help him bounce back. However, I’m reluctant to support him at such a short price particularly as he had such a plumb draw at Newmarket.
Royal Ascot winner Society Rock is another who warrants plenty of respect, but won’t get the soft ground he has excelled on twice so far this campaign. Delegator has disappointed since winning on his reappearance, while Bated Breath just doesn’t look quite good enough at this level.
Hoof It makes plenty of appeal stepping back up to six furlongs, but there is just a worry that he is beginning to feel the effects of a busy campaign and he is plenty short enough at 9/2 in a Group One.
At the prices, the two that make the most appeal are Roger Varian’s Elzaam and Irish raider BEWITCHED. The former can be backed at 14/1, while the latter is available at a massive looking 16/1 with the sponsors.
If Elzaam was lining up here having not run at Newmarket, he’d be almost challenging for favouritism. I’m prepared to forgive him that run at Headquarters as it’s the third time he’s flopped there and for some reason he just doesn’t seem to handle the track. The only slight concern is the form of his stable, but I’m pretty confident he’ll outrun his price.
However, my main fancy for the race is Bewitched who could only finish 14th when favourite for the Golden Jubilee on her last start. She had looked ultra-progressive having won her three previous starts and it later emerged that injury was to blame for her Ascot no-show. She has been given plenty of time to recover by connections and apparently showed plenty of her old previous zest in a recent racecourse spin.
My selection has won at Haydock before and will have no ground concerns – connections have often stressed that she goes on all ground except for the extremes. It’s a wide-open competitive sprint, but at 16/1, I’m prepared to take a chance on Bewitched bouncing back.
The Old Borough Cup (2.30pm) looks as wide-open as always, but I’m prepared to give another chance to old favourite ZUIDER ZEE at 10/1 with Paddy Power. He gets his perfect conditions and it is hard to envisage him not being in the shake-up.
Kieren Fallon turned down the opportunity to ride Hoof It in the Sprint Cup because of ‘commitments’ at Ascot and his booking aboard the Luca Cumani-trained FULGUR in the Heritage Handicap (3.45pm) is significant. The partnership looks sure to be suited by the return to one and a half miles on a conventional track and warrant plenty of respect at 10.0 on Betdaq.
You can follow me on Twitter @BillEsdaile for my views on today’s action.
ZUIDER ZEE e/w 2.30pm Haydock (tomorrow)
BEWITCHED e/w 3.35pm Haydock (tomorrow)
FULGUR e/w 3.45pm Ascot (tomorrow)