A 9/2 winner for Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) last week, what’s he backing this Saturday at Ascot?
14:55 York | Channel 4
A 10 furlong Group 3 here and this is a fascinating race. There are question marks about most of these whether it be ground, stamina or form related and none of the field can be confidently ruled out.
Prince Gibraltar was one of the most promising three year olds in Europe last season and started favourite for the French Derby where he finished third behind the Grey Gatsby. That piece of form makes him stand out here but I’m not sure if I trust him. He didn’t look to have a good attitude at the business end of his races last season and hasn’t won since May last year.
He was however beaten less than five lengths in the Arc de Triomphe last season, but I can’t back him as a win proposition. He came second in a Chantilly Group 2 last time over 12 furlongs which was an improvement on his seasonal return, but I’m not interested in him here.
Custom Cut is a real admirable horse and has progressed an incredible amount under the tutelage of David O’Meara. He has developed into a horse just short of Group 1 level over a mile and is well worth a chance up in trip. His last race was at Epsom where he chased home Arod. He was conceding weight to his rival that day and that was a near impossible task against a fast improving rival.
He won over nine furlongs before at today’s track and he could find further improvement over today’s trip. His breeding offers encouragement to me, and at 5/2 he represents value.
Other than his two forays in Group 1 level he has been remarkably consistent in the last 12 months and he is the most likely winner of this race. This represents an easier assignment than he has had lately and I expect him to get his head back in front here.
15:15 Ascot | Channel 4
A 29 runner seven furlong handicap that’s 8/1 the field, it goes without saying that this is a competitive race, and throw in question marks about how soft the ground is going to get this is a real tough puzzle to solve! But it is a puzzle worth solving as we will be well rewarded.
Speculative Bid is the favourite for the race and he’s been a revelation this season winning his first three outings, including over course and distance. His last start was in the Royal Hunt Cup where he came fifth. He strikes me as a horse who will continue to improve, but I’m not convinced he represents value here. He could run in to a place but I am looking elsewhere for my selection.
Bushcraft, from the Ed Walker yard has won all three starts this season and comes in to this at the top of his game. He was last seen winning a Newcastle handicap and is well worth the step up in class here. He impressed me that day and I’m sure he will win a big handicap at some point, but this may be too early for him. He has 28 rivals to contend with here and it’s new ground for him. I wouldn’t be prepared to rule him out completely but again I’m looking elsewhere.
I could see Zarwan putting up an improved showing here, the course will suit a lot more than the tight turns of Chester but he may be too high in the handicap here. Another that appeals at a big price is Balti Boys who was first home on his side in the Royal Hunt Cup but he is a very in and out performer and I’m sweet on one of his rivals.
Lincoln finished down the field in the Royal Hunt Cup where he was behind some of today’s rivals but he looks a solid each way bet to me here. Before that he was second to Speculative Bid over course and distance and is now weighted to reverse the form. Ok, Speculative Bid has a more progressive profile, but the ground won’t be an issue for Lincoln and I see this as a decisive factor.
He has winning form on a softer surface and the ground tomorrow won’t concern him. He was last seen finishing third in a Group 3 at Newmarket a month ago and comes in here on form. He’s been placed 14 times from 26 career starts, and in his last nine starts over seven furlongs. A strong run seven furlongs seems to be his ideal conditions and that is what he will get tomorrow. I make him a confident each way selection.
15:50 Ascot | Channel 4
The King George is the highlight of the summer for most racing fans and we have another chance to see Derby and Eclipse winner Golden Horn. We will learn more about him here as he experiencing softer ground for the first time. I expect him to cope with it, but I’m not prepared to back him at short odds tomorrow.
Three of his rivals met at Royal Ascot in the Hardwicke Stakes and it was one of the strangest races of that meeting. Snow Sky caused a surprise that day winning from the front under a smart ride from Pat Smullen. He won well that day, but the favourite Telescope underperformed and Eagle Top and Postponed got into a battle for position that effectively ruined both their races.
I don’t think you can take that race literally, but I’m also not convinced that those three rivals are Golden Horn’s main competition here. Flintshire has lined up in some of the top races around the world in the past 18 months and is a remarkably consistent sort. However there are doubts about his ability to handle soft ground and I can’t back him in this because of that.
What I am going to say here sounds crazy, but I fancy a horse to win one of the biggest Flat races of the season who started life as a National Hunt prospect. Since the ground turned soft the complexion of this race has changed.
I looked at this race earlier in the week and thought Clever Cookie could represent real each way value at 25/1 if the ground changed. Well the ground has changed and punters have latched on. He’s now trading at half that price, but I still think he represents value.
Last time out he ran at York winning a Listed race over 14 furlongs. He was conceding weight to his rivals and he travelled powerfully throughout before winning easily. He looked like a horse going places that day, and though I didn’t expect to be backing him here it makes sense. He is the only horse in the race who will thrive on this ground and I can see him running in to a place and if Golden Horn doesn’t act there is a real chance he could win the biggest Group 1 of the summer.
14:55 York – Custom Cut to win (11/4 BetVictor)
15:15 Ascot – Lincoln each way (16/1 Coral)
15:50 Ascot – Clever Cookie to win (9/1 William Hill)
He’s the best horse in training at the moment after romping home in the Derby and the Eclipse.
Coral are offering new customer 5/1 on the odds on favourite simply placing in Saturday’s King George.