Steve Hughes previews Champions Day at Ascot
Once again soft ground prevails for Champions Day at Ascot and I think there are a few vulnerable favourites on the card. I have selections for four of the six contests. We had a fantastic Friday with a 55/1 double at advised prices courtesy of Equus Amadeus (7/1) and Alemaratalyoum (6/1).
Ascot 2.00: The Tin Man
A sprinter that goes on any ground, The Tin Man bounce back to his best when landing a heavy ground Haydock Sprint Cup last month and can go back-to-back in Group 1’s.
He got on superbly with Oisin Murphy in the saddle for the first time and the rising star can steer the 6yo to another win here. The Tin Man has an excellent track record with three wins from seven starts here, including in this very race in 2016, and the Diamond Jubilee last season.
He will have plenty of pace to aim at with the likes of Harry Angel in the field and his middle draw should be an advantage as it will give Murphy more flexibility to follow the speed as he sees fit.
Ascot 3.15: Lord Glitters
The ex-French trained Lord Glitters burst onto the scone in Britain with two fine runs with cut in the ground at this track last autumn and he can make the transition to Group 1 company successfully today.
His running style is to be dropped in and come fast and late and this race should set up perfectly on this stiff mile with Hey Gaman and Laurens usually liking to set a strong gallop. Those types of races are not always found in group races, but were when he was a fine second in the Queen Anne here at the Royal meeting on ground probably faster than ideal.
He won a group 3 at York where his stamina came into play over 9f and his latest run in Canada can be forgiven as the turning track and steady pace did not play to his strengths. Jamie Spencer looks a perfect match for the 5yo and with Roaring Lion potentially vulnerable down in trip and on softer going, he looks a perfect each-way alternative.
Ascot 3.50: Crystal Ocean
Cracksman was a brilliant winner of this twelve months ago on similar ground and a repeat performance today will see him win just as easily against what I regard as a sub-standard field. However he has not looked in the same form/mood this term and Crystal Ocean is a viable alternative.
Yes Cracksman gets his favoured going today, but he has been laboured on his last two runs and that was not simply down to faster going. Blinkers are employed to try and buck his ideas up. That decision might work but he does not look like one to take a short price about.
Crystal Ocean was no match for Enable last time, but was narrowly defeated in an epic King George battle with Poets Word here and it might just be that he is better back down to 10f. He is certainly comfortable on slow ground as his smooth Sandown spring success showed. If Cracksman does not return to his best I can’t see many other alternatives to the Michael Stoute trained colt.
Ascot 4.30: Kynren & Raising Sand
Some old favourites here in a typical straight course, big field Ascot handicap.
Kynren is the first choice as I think he will benefit for a return to soft ground for the first time since the opening day of the turf season. On that occasion he looked a handicapper to follow when placing third in the Spring Mile at Doncaster despite being drawn on the hugely unfavoured near side of the track. Since then he has performed consistently in the big handicaps without winning including a third in the John Smiths Cup and second at the Ebor meeting at York. He has the stamina for 10f, but a strongly run mile will suit.
Raising Sand showed how important soft ground is to him by winning the big race over 7f here two weeks ago. He sluiced through the field under the testing conditions that day, despite hanging slightly. He has enough good form over a mile to think he can last out the extra furlong today. Indeed he has two wins already at a mile here (albeit one was on the round course). A 6lb penalty may not be enough to stop him.
1pt win – The Tin Man – 2.00 Ascot – 4/1 Ladbrokes, Paddy Power
1pt each-way – Lord Glitters – 3.15 Ascot – 8/1 general (William Hill 1/5 odds first 5)
1pt win – Crystal Ocean – 3.50 Ascot – 11/4 general
1pt win – Raising Sand – 4.30 Ascot – 6/1 general
0.75pts each-way – Kynren – 4.30 Ascot – 9/1 general