RACING fan Pete Hamill (@RiskForRewards) picks out favourite fancies from Champions Day at Ascot.
Champion Stakes | 15:50 Ascot | ITV
When talking about a horse primed for one race of the season, Mishriff (7/4 William Hill) is it.
Having looked a world beater (literally) when beating Charlatan and four-time group 1 winner Knicks Go in the Group 1 Saudi Cup. Following up only four weeks later when beating multiple Group 1 winner Chrono Genesis in the Dubai Sheema Classic. In winning those events he achieved an RPR of 123 in both.
Given 98 days off he returned in the Coral Eclipse. Travelling very well, leading 2f out and appearing to be going best but got tired out of it entering the last furlong with St Mark’s Basillica winning going away. That looked an ideal prep with the plan of Gosden bringing him along at a slower rate this year.
He then went to the Group 1 King George at Royal Ascot where he came up against tomorrows adversary in Adayar. On the day he travelled at the back, in a slowly run race, staying on to gain second close home. On the day the winner was getting 11lbs from Mishriff over 12f (Saturday 10f) achieving his highest rating so far in RPR 126.
Dropped in trip next time out for the Group 1 Judmonte (10f) he looked a completely different proposition, with many jaws left on the ground. Travelling smoothly, headway and when asked strode clear from 115 OR Alenquer and multiple group 1 winner Love.
This produced his highest RPR of 128 and given 7 weeks to prepare for this he comes here in the form of his life, this was the plan, he is a 10 furlong horse and he is fresh.
A horse with the potential to be the best three year old of the season. His most recent run came in the Arc where he raced keenly, leading turning in to the bend but kicked for home and got caught treading water in the last two furlongs. This horse has been lightly campaigned this year only running 5 times but that was a huge run only two weeks ago.
Personally I see this as a big ask to back up so quick after such a big run but if he does or had come here fresh he should arguably be favorite. Another disadvantage for him is the weight allowance he had when meeting Mishriff before of 11lb is now down to 4lb and he is coming back in trip having done all his group 1 winning over 12f. I think there are enough negatives to be against him at the price.
Dubai Honour (15/2)
Supplemented this week for £75,000 for this event which sounds like a lot of money however he won 126,000 euros when winning the Group 2 prix Dollar. He is now a dual group 2 winner in France but in the UK his best form came when winning a group 2 handicap from Foxes Tales.
That form alone would not be enough to feature here but he is improving, remains unexposed and did put up some very strong sectionals in the final furlongs in the Prix Dollar. The negative for him would be that this was an after thought and he was another to only run 13 days ago. He needs to find 11lb with the front two but still has potential however this could be a step too far.
Some will say this horse has been underrated throughout his career. Magical sent off favourite but could only manage third as this horse bolted up in the mud in this race last year. He has been labelled a mud lover but has plenty of form on better ground most recently (second in the Group 1 Prince of Wales) also winning the Group 1 Queen stakes (Randwick, Australia) on good ground.
I will be surprised if he is not in the mix come the finish especially as he comes here fresh as opposed to the two above him in the market who come as an after thought. He remains a player but I think he could be vulnerable to an improver or just a better horse.
Al Aasy (20/1)
Don’t be surprised to see this horse run a big race. The start of the year he looked a world beater beating St leger winner Logician hard on the bridle achieving a RPR of 122. Since then things have not gone so smoothly being turned over 3 times as favourite.
He has been gelded in the summer and since then had one run. Sent off 4/6 fav he took a hold, travelled well but found nothing. That run was very similar to Hukums first run after a gelding operation. Second run out Hukum looked a different horse and bolted up.
Al Aasy has the potential to do similar if the trainer has trained him with a similar approach. He will travel well regardless it just depends what he finds of the bridle stepped down in trip to 10f.
This looks another match up on the figures but as highlighted there are a few others who have the potential to get involved. Mishriff looks to be the one to beat, this has been his plan all year and they have worked back from this target all year. He now only gives 4lb (instead of 11lb) to Adayar for the 1 ½ length defeat.
He was phenomenal in arguably the performance of the season when winning the 10f Group 1 Juddmonte recording faster final sectionals than any other horse on the day. He is a 10 furlong horse and on what we have seen a very good one and come Saturday evening could be marked as the best 10f horse of the year.
Adayar has been a very good horse over 12f, but this step down and a very buzzy/fresh appearance in the Arc when not having an easy race as enough negatives. The others in the race are very good horses but have to improve again. Therefore Mishriff rates the strong selection.
Balmoral Handicap | 16:30 Ascot | ITV
We will not know until the day which side of the track has a bias but stalls 1-4 have fared well the last few years. However, this season horses have tended to fare well from the high draws.
The Gosden pair head the market with Sunray Major a very strong obvious chance. He does have the wide draw to contend with which could be positive or negative, but regardless it is very wide. This will be his third run in a short period but they haven’t been very testing so far so could be plenty more to come.
This is his first time at the 1-mile trip (should be no issue). I have no doubt he is the one to beat especially racing of OR 95 but is priced accordingly. If he is 4/1 or upward on Saturday he would come under consideration and may worthy a bet from myself.
The consistent Nugget has become a punters pal gaining his first win this year of an OR of 92 at Newbury, having been an unlucky third to Astro King prior. He has been the opposite of a normal handicapper in that his form figures have been 3-1-2-1.
However he has been cleverly campaigned going up OR 92 to OR 104. He may have gone up 12lb but he looks very progressive and just keeps finding more each race. His form in races with 11 or more runners is 2-2-1-2. Freshened up (or possibly put away) for 147 days he returned beating the 2019 Royal Hunt Cup winner Afaak.
This marks him out as still progressive with a possibility of more to come. He is drawn 7, travels very strongly and has Ryan Moore doing the steering. He will have plenty of options from 7 and I find it hard to see him not in the mix up at the end of the race.
Sir Busker (14/1)
Form figures at Ascot – 4-1-4-3-3-7.
His Ascot win coming in the 2020 Royal Hunt cup. This season he has tried his hand at the highest level with a group 1 placed effort behind Palace Pier in the Queen Anne (RPR 116). Last seen finishing third behind the progressive OR 111 Moshtadaf shows the spark remains.
Oisin Murphy is jocked up and right now there is only one winner between the two jockeys in the title chase (so this could be a race he needs to win). Drawn low in 3 (with the good record of low drawn horses) he has plenty in his favour to go well at a very big price.
15:50 Ascot – Mishriff (7/4 William Hill)
16:30 Ascot – Nugget (8/1 Bet365)
16:30 Ascot – Sir Busker (14/1 Bet365)