Rock steady for 2m test

Steve Hughes previews Shergar Cup day at Ascot

Whilst normally the Shergar Cup has not been my favourite event to have a bet on with unfamiliar jockeys riding horses they have never sat on before, in colours unfamiliar to punters, there is a good make up of races today so I have three selections on the card. We had a good finish to Goodwood last week with Enbihaar a winner (advised 9/2) and both Stewards Cup each-way selections were placed – Summerghand (12/1) and Justanotherbottle (advised 8/1).

Ascot 1.40: Eddystone Rock

At the age of seven this will be Eddystone Rock’s first attempt at 2m on turf. However he has been in fine form all season and on recent evidence looks well worth another try at the distance.

Most of his runs have been at 12f this season, including a win at Leicester in the spring and a fine third at Epsom on Derby Day as well as a runner-up position at the same track in the Great Metropolitan. However his latest win came over an extended 13f at Chester. He also finished a fair seventh on his latest start over 14f at Newmarket where he was showing no signs of stopping late on.

This has the potential to be quite steadily run which will help, and he has the turn of pace late in his races that if his stamina does hold out he could prove quite potent at this distance. No doubt he will be held up for a late run by jockey Hayley Turner which could be useful tactics on such a windy day.

Ascot 2.15: Mandarin

Despite reaching the age of five, this is really Mandarin’s first full season and he is really getting going now having won his last two starts.

Having won a mile maiden as a juvenile, he was not really getting competitive at the trip over the past couple of seasons, but stepping him up in distance of late has really been the making of him. He was second on his first two attempts at 10f at Doncaster and Sandown, before making it third time lucky when scoring at Windsor last month.

However his run at Newmarket last week when storming home up the hill on his first try at 12f to beat Past Master by almost 3l suggests there is plenty more in the locker at this trip. He goes up 6lbs for that, but that should not be a great burden so if his European based jockey can continue to get the best out of this gelding he looks hard to stop.

Ascot 2.50: Via Serendipity

The winner of this mile race in the Shergar Cup last season, I can see Via Serendipity repeating the trick this afternoon.

He was one of very few pacesetters in the field last year and was therefore able to steal a march on the opposition last year and I can see a similar pattern developing today. The one rival for the lead is Zhui Feng, but that rival is out of form, is without the usual headgear and has to cope with a wide draw.

In truth the selection’s four runs on turf this term have been moderate, but in between times he did win by 5l when making all at Chelmsford, so the ability is still there. It just seems he needs things to fall right in order to give his best running. Another positive is that he has dropped to a mark of 95, the same rating from which he has achieved those last two wins.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way – Eddystone Rock – 1.40 Ascot – 8/1 general (Paddy Power 1/5 odds 1st 4)

1pt win – Mandarin – 2.15 Ascot – 4/1 general

0.75pts each-way – Via Serendipity – 2.50 Ascot – 11/2 William Hill, BetVictor

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