THE rain clouds predicted to gather over Ascot this afternoon are bad news for the thousands flocking to Berkshire for Ladies Day, but good news for me, as my big price fancy in the day’s feature will relish the emphasis on stamina.
At first glance, FICTIONAL ACCOUNT may not leap off the page as an obvious winner of the Gold Cup (3.45pm). Let’s face it, only one mare has won this race in the last 50 years and Indian Queen’s victory came 20 years ago. Our selection has also chased home this afternoon’s red-hot favourite Fame And Glory on both starts so far this campaign and is actually 4lb worse off at the weights.
However, two and a half miles is just about the ultimate test of a flat horse’s stamina and I have a sneaky suspicion that this afternoon’s field is packed full of non-stayers. Fame And Glory is as short as 7/4 with William Hill but didn’t look like he was in need of a six furlong step up in trip last time. Don’t get me wrong, if the multiple Group One-winning, former Irish Derby-winner does stay, he’ll win. It’s just that really is a big ‘if’ and I’d far rather be a layer on Betdaq than a backer.
As for the rest, Duncan is another with bundles of class and he’s got decent course form here. However, he has never raced over two miles, let alone two and a half, and is too short considering there are plenty of doubts about him getting home. The same can also be said for Blue Bajan who certainly stays two miles, but seems to struggle going any further.
Fictional Account has won at Ascot before over two miles and was only getting going late over inadequate trips on both starts this campaign. Her biggest danger may well be the Godolphin-trained Holberg if the rain stays away, but at 20/1 with Star Sports, she has to be the bet each-way.
It’s strange that two of the leading contenders for the Ribblesdale Stakes (3.05pm) have both run within the last seven days. Jim Bolger’s BANIMPIRE was amazingly last seen in action at Cork just four days ago, but she seems to be thriving with racing.
She will be having her seventh start of the campaign, but the key to her seems to be trips in excess of a mile – her only two defeats this season have been over eight furlongs. The Group Three she won over this trip on Sunday may not have been the strongest of affairs, but she took it in really striking fashion and looks the one to be on at 9/4 with William Hill.
Her biggest danger will surely come from the Frankie Dettori-ridden Rumh who looked a really progressive filly last time when winning by six lengths in a Listed race at Newbury. I’m not sure that was the greatest race in the world and she’ll have to step up again to take a hand here.
The Norfolk Stakes (2.30pm), the opening race on this afternoon’s card, looks a really tricky puzzle to solve particularly as five of the 21 runners were in action on Tuesday. They include impressive Windsor Castle Stakes winner Frederick Engels who will definitely be the one to beat if lining up again.
The three that stand out are Bapak Chinta, EVERYDAY DAVE and PYMAN’S THEORY. The former had Frederick Engels behind on his only racecourse start to date, but looks skinny on the back of that run and this represents a huge step up for one so inexperienced.
I was at Sandown when Pyman’s Theory bolted up in the National Stakes. She showed electric pace that day, will relish any rain that falls and was more impressive than her narrow margin of victory may suggest. She is a decent each-way proposition at 7/1 with William Hill.
It’s also worth having a few quid each-way on US raider Everyday Dave who showed blistering speed at Chantilly last time. It’s not clear what he beat that day, but he was eased down to an eight-length victory so could be anything and mustn’t go unbacked at 8/1.
PYMAN’S THEORY e/w 2.30pm Ascot
EVERYDAY DAVE e/w 2.30pm Ascot
BANIMPIRE 3.05pm Ascot
FICTIONAL ACCOUNT e/w 3.45pm Ascot