Laugh a Minute is no joke

Steve Hughes concentrates on a competitive Ascot card on Saturday

Although the big money races are largely elsewhere at Newmarket, Longchamp and Redcar, there is good action at Ascot where afternoon wind and rain could change the complexion of a few contests. I am sticking with the Berkshire track for today’s bets.

Ascot 1.50: Mr Lupton

A horse that loves to come fast and late from off the pace, this 5f at Ascot is a perfect place for Mr Lupton to adopt those tactics.

He ran well here when eighth in the Wokingham but that 6f does stretch his stamina a little too much. He won twice at York earlier in the year by flying through from the rear and bounce back to form with a Group 3 win at Newbury two weeks ago.

That win also proved his worth with cut in the ground – he is already fully proven on quick ground, so he won’t mind whatever conditions he is faced with.

Ascot 3.00: Laugh a Minute

Things are moving in the right direction for the Roger Varian trained Laugh a Minute, and I fancy his chances receiving weight from most in this open sprint.

He won a valuable sales race at Doncaster as a juvenile on good-to-soft and arguably turned in a career best performance on his last start at Deauville in testing ground when second in a Group 3. That followed a comfortable success, again at Doncaster earlier in the month.

As a son of Mayson, he will relish every drop of rain that falls at Ascot, but his progression is such that he should have the quality anyway and this galloping track suits the style of a horse like him.

Ascot 3.35: Cape Byron & Raising Sand

Some old favourites meet again here and two horses who will love the rain falling at Ascot this afternoon are favoured.

Cape Byron has been knocking at the door in these races recently. He was second to Ripp Off here on fast ground last month, that after a spectacular effort when second to Raising Sand at Goodwood, having to race wide throughout (the only horse drawn in double figures to make the first five that day. He has been on fast ground throughout 2018, but won over a mile here on soft ground last autumn and I think he will improve again for some cut today.

Raising Sand too has had to make do with fast ground all season and that his simply not his best surface. That said his performances have been improving as he drops down the weights and he was first home of those drawn high in the Cambridgeshire last week. However I expect a transformation on softer going today – conditions he encountered when twice placed over course and distance last autumn. He is also a course winner at a mile.

Ascot 4.45: Erissimus Maximus

The rain should have got into the ground by the time of the last race, which would be great news for last year’s winner Erissimus Maximus.

The gelding took advantage of a wet second half of 2017, winning three times including this race from a 3lb higher mark. Top apprentice Nicola Currie reduces his burden by a further 3lbs today.

His form has been moderate to say the least this season – but of course he has been having to race on quick ground throughout. The one exception was at Newmarket in the spring when he was a solid third. Given enough rain today he will enjoy the cut far more and looks well handicapped.

Recommended bets:

1pt win – Mr Lupton – 1.50 Ascot – 4/1 general

1pt each-way – Laugh a Minute – 3.00 Ascot – 5/1 general (Bet365 ¼ odds first 3)

1pt win – Cape Byron – 3.35 Ascot – 9/2 general

1pt win – Raising Sand – 3.35 Ascot – 6/1 general

0.75pts each-way – Erissimus Maximus – 4.45 Ascot – 14/1 general

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