Steve Hughes looks ahead to the final day of Royal Ascot.
The final day of another excellent week’s racing at Royal Ascot and the undoubted highlight is the Golden Jubilee with strong challengers from across the world. I fancy a course specialist for that race, have three against the field in the Wokingham and have an each-way angle into the last. I also have a best bet from a very good supporting card at Ayr. Appeared was placed for the each-way bet yesterday (advised 12/1).
Ayr 3.30: Nicholas T
Local raider Nicholas T bids for back to back successes in this valuable handicap.
Even at the age of six, connections are clearly unsure of what exactly his best trip is. He has run over just 7f and as far as 12f this term – he started out as a bumper horse a couple of seasons ago. However one consistency about him has been his solid form at this track on fast ground which now reads 122113.
His second in the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar (10f) signalled a return to form and there is enough pace in the contest to bring his strong finish into play at this mile distance, just as happened here last season.
Ascot 4.20: Librisa Breeze
Librisa Breeze showed he belonged in the top echelon of sprinters when landing the group 1 contest over course and distance on Champions Day and rates value to win again here.
In an ideal world there would be more juice in the ground – it was soft when he won here in October. However he ran more than respectably on very quick conditions in this race last season when fourth after meeting trouble in running twice as the race got going.
It was also lightning quick going when he won the International Handicap here in 2016 over 7f, so he certainly handles fast ground. Of most importance to him is a strong pace and he will get that with Intelligence Cross sure to spread them out early to set the race up for stablemate Merchant Navy. However I am hoping that it will act as the perfect launch pad for Librisa Breeze too.
Ascot 5.00: Mr Lupton, Gilgamesh & Tupi
I am throwing three arrows at the Wokingham.
Mr Lupton has always shown his best form in big field handicaps having previously landed the big 3yo contest at York and winning a fast run 6f at Newmarket last spring. That win elevated him into group races, but they rarely go a strong enough end-to-end gallop for him in those contests. He has been in excellent form in 2018, following up a listed race second at Doncaster at the season opener with a good Newmarket run back in handicap company. However he did really well to come from last to first to win over 5f at York last time. I am sure he is better at 6f and with only a 3lb rise for today is still 7lb below his highest career rating.
Gilgamesh could be the big improver in the field. Still lightly raced he comes into this after a narrow win over 7f at York. He was also a moral winner in the Victoria Cup here last month – winning the race on the near side, but having no chance with those drawn far side. He has only raced once over this 6f trip, but did win that day at Nottingham and I think a breakneck gallop at this trip will bring out further improvement, especially on his favoured fast ground.
Tupi has to come into calculations following some help from the handicapper. His first time out record in Britain reads 1221. He had a modest campaign in Dubai over the winter, but the same happened in 2017 and he produced a spectacular 4l win in listed company on his return here at Doncaster. He was far from disgraced in sixth in the Golden Jubilee on this day last year and can race off his career low handicap mark today.
Ascot 5.35: Fun Mac
This race revolves around whether hot favourite Thomas Hobson can deliver the goods first time out. He was beaten though in this race last year (having won the Ascot Stakes four days earlier) and comes into this race after a seven month break since his fine Melbourne Cup run. He can race keenly which leads me to think he is worth taking on.
My option is to go each-way on Fun Mac. He was fifth last year in a race that was stronger than today’s and would have been closer if ridden nearer to the pace. He has had a similar preparation to last year in that he raced, and was placed in the Chester Cup last month.
Stamina is no issue – apart from those fine Chester Cup races he has been second in the 2m4f Ascot Stakes in the past. He can be a little inconsistent, but there is so much dead wood in this race that an each-way bet with 4 places on offer looks worth a gamble.
1pt win – Nicholas T – 3.30 Ayr – 4/1 general
0.75pts each-way – Librisa Breeze – 4.20 Ascot – 14/1 Totesport, Betfred
0.75pts each-way – Mr Lupton – 5.00 Ascot – 14/1 Bet365 (¼ odds first 5)
0.75pts each-way – Gilgamesh – 5.00 Ascot – 12/1 Bet365 (¼ odds first 5)
1pt win – Tupi – 5.00 Ascot – 18/1 general
1pt each-way – Fun Mac – 5.35 Ascot – 14/1 Skybet, Paddy Power – (1/5 odds first 4)