SADLY the eagerly awaited clash between Canford Cliffs and Makfi won't take place at Ascot tomorrow as Richard Hannon's triple Group One winning miler scoped badly yesterday and misses the race. Makfi was well beaten when the pair last met at the Royal meeting, but subsequent tests revealed a throat infection and he has since confirmed his place at the top of the mile tree by claiming the scalps of Goldikova and Paco Boy in France last time.
Frustratingly, I was keen to side with the French raider at around 2/1 to gain his revenge, particularly with so much rain around. However, I won't be backing him at odds-on as, infection or not, he didn't seem comfortable on the round course when last here in June and is without doubt a better horse over a straight mile. That said, he has the best form in the book and is unquestionably the one they all have to beat, but there may be value in backing POET'S VOICE each-way against him.
Godolphin's Celebration Mile winner looked back to his best last time when seeing off Main Aim and if the ground turns soft, he will be a serious threat to both Makfi and Rip Van Winkle. The latter looks far better suited by a mile and a quarter these days and may get tapped for toe.
Elsewhere on tomorrow's Ascot card and Frankel looks impossible to oppose in the Royal Lodge Stakes. Henry Cecil's colt has scared off the majority of his rivals and looks to have a relatively routine task now that Titus Mills has defected.
There is a far more interesting match in the Fillies Mile where White Moonstone is scheduled to take on Brian Meehan's THEYSKEN'S THEORY. The former has looked a really exciting prospect in her last two starts winning the Sweet Solero and the May Hill, but I'll take a chance on the Meehan filly who looked a bit special at Goodwood last time.
Michael Jarvis has always had a great deal of faith in SAJJHAA and although the Oaks was a step to far, she bounced back to form at Bath last time and can land tomorrow’s opener.
There is some decent action at Ascot this afternoon and Marcus Tregoning’s DARAJAAT can get us off to a flyer in the opening Nursery. She comfortably broke her maiden tag at Kempton earlier this month and the stable had a winner at Goodwood on Wednesday.
James Fanshawe’s DEACON BLUES has been slightly unlucky so far this season, but he deserves to win a decent prize and Kieren Fallon should be able to bring him home in front in the DJP Handicap (3.10pm).
I must also give a word to MASS RALLY in the 4.20pm. Regular readers of this column will know that I’ve backed him on his last three starts. He seems to travel very strongly in his races before emptying, but I’m interested to see his shrewd handler reach for a first-time visor. He’s not one to rely on, though, so I’ll be adopting a back-to-lay strategy on Betdaq.
We don’t yet know who will be running in Sunday’s John Guest Diadem Stakes at Ascot but if DALGHAR is in the field he would rate my nap of the weekend. He has run in top races all summer and the drop back to six furlongs will be right up his street. Lady Of The Desert is the chief danger and she would be my selection if Dalghar doesn’t show up.
DARAJAAT 2.00pm Ascot (today)
DEACON BLUES 3.10pm Ascot (today)
MASS RALLY (Back-to-lay) 4.20pm Ascot (today)
SAJJHAA 1.55pm Ascot (tomorrow)
THEYSKEN’S THEORY 3.05pm Ascot (tomorrow)
POET’S VOICE e/w 4.15pm Ascot (tomorrow)
DALGHAR 4.45pm Ascot (Sunday)