RACING fan Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from a brilliant day at of racing from Ascot.
13:25 Ascot|The Long-Distance Cup | ITV
The Long-Distance Cup gets the top class card underway and there is a typically strong field lining up. 13 take their chance on soft ground, but all going well it will be 12 runners playing for second place.
Order of St George was disappointing in this race last year, but that was the on quicker ground and the on the softer ground he will prove hard to beat. He was narrowly beaten in the Gold Cup and was fourth in the Arc, so he’s a remarkably consistent sort and holds his form well. Though he’s a short price I think he is still valued at around even money.
14:00 Ascot| British Champion Sprint | ITV
The British Champion Sprint is probably the strongest field of the day and there will be plenty of confident connections coming into this. The soft ground won’t worry a lot of these but I’m siding with one who seems to almost rely on it.
While this is being billed as Harry Angel vs Caravagio to decide Champion Sprinter, it’s worth remembering there is a very strong supporting cast. If Harry Angel can maintain his incredible form then he will win this, but sprint races tend to throw up a few surprises and he’s yet to win at the track from two starts.
Tasleet has a little to find with some of these, but he loves the soft ground and has taken his form to a new level this year. Available at double-figure prices he represents each way value in my opinion.
14:40 Ascot| Fillies and Mares Stakes | ITV
The Fillies and Mares stakes is another top-class affair and it also provides me with my main selection of the day. Bateel has run six times with soft in the title and has won all six. She won a Group 1 last time in France and stays really well. I’m a huge fan of her and I think she will be incredibly difficult to beat here.
15:15 Ascot| QEII | ITV
The QEII is the top mile race in Europe and this is likely to point us in the direction of who sits top of the pile in this division. Ribchester and Churchill head the betting and look the ones to beat, but I’m looking elsewhere for my selection.
Churchill was a good winner of the 2000 Guineas but hasn’t looked the same horse on his past few starts. Ribchester is a multiple Group 1 winner and the one to beat, however, he doesn’t bomb proof as the Sussex stakes indicated. He brings the best form to the race but faces a rapidly improving three-year-old who may improve past him.
Beat the Bank has almost come out of nowhere to become a miler who looks more than capable of winning this. He seems to love the soft ground and on his last start, he turned a Newmarket Group 2 into a precession. I think he is going to prove to be a Group 1 horse and I’ve backed him.
15:50 Ascot| Champions Stakes | ITV
The Champions Stakes is the main event and one of the biggest races of the season. The soft ground adds a lot of additional questions with stamina issues about a lot of runners this looks perfect for Cracksman to finally break his group one duck.
Cracksman should really be a derby winner, however, a combination of inexperience and poor tactics cost him dearly. Since then he has become a man and in recent months a change of riding style has seen him become the top three-year-old colt around. The Long Ascot straight should play to his strengths and I really think he’ll win this and set up a mouth-watering clash with Enable next year.
13:25 Ascot – Order of St George to win (5/6 Bet365)
14:00 Ascot – Tasleet to win (14/1 Paddy Power)
14:40 Ascot – Bateel to win (2/1 Paddy Power)
15:15 Ascot – Beat the Bank (9/2 Bet365)
15:50 Ascot – Cracksman to win (15/8 SkyBet)