THERE is no hiding place in any race run over 2m4f at Ascot and in this afternoon’s Ascot Stakes (5.00pm) you need a horse that truly stays this marathon trip.
The fairytale story will be if favourite Tiger Cliff gives Lady Cecil her first Royal Ascot winner and, if that does happen, there won’t be a dry eye in the house. This is a seriously progressive four-year-old and I have no doubt that he will rate much higher than his current mark of 94 in time.
However, there has to be a huge doubt about him getting home over this extended trip. He won really well at Newmarket on his seasonal reappearance, but I can’t get out of my head the way he seemed to stop at Doncaster last season.
If he stays, he wins, but often when you have to ask that question you already know the answer, and I think he will struggle to last out. At 5/1 with Paddy Power, I’m happy to watch him win without feeling the need to invest financially.
Justification was backed as if defeat was out of the question in the Chester Cup, but I was a little disappointed with his display. I think he has been priced up based on his connections rather than his form. He’s also another one with slight stamina doubts.
A chance can be given to the majority of the field, but I’m going to fire two bullets in the shape of MUBARAZA and BIG EASY.
The former finished third behind Tiger Cliff at Newmarket last time and he just looked a little one-paced in the final furlong. That was over 1m6f and this extra six furlongs should be right up his street. He is an out and out stayer and I fancy him to reverse placings with the favourite. Take the 12/1 available with Paddy Power.
Big Easy hasn’t raced on the flat for over two years when he was trained by Nicolas Clement. He joined Philip Hobbs in November 2011 and has since landed three handicap hurdles, including his last start over three miles at Cheltenham.
Stamina isn’t a worry with this six-year-old, having the pace to lay up with the quicker flat horses might be though. However, the promising Willie Twiston-Davies takes off 5lb and he will be staying on when the others have cried enough. He looks a decent each-way bet at 12/1 with Coral and jumps trainers have won the last three renewals.
Well Sharp and Midnight Oil are other interesting contenders from the National Hunt scene, while Homeric won over two miles here last time and could go close if he stays the trip.
MUBARAZA e/w 5.00pm Ascot
BIG EASY e/w 5.00pm Ascot