Steve Hughes previews the best of the British racing action on Saturday
Ascot stages one final fixture on the flat before Champions Day in two weeks with a competitive card. I have selections for three races run on the straight track plus one from Redcar where there mile championship is decided this afternoon.
Ascot 2.00: Dakota Gold
It has been a prosperous season for connections of Dakota Gold and whilst the gelding could be forgiven for wanting a rest now he can secure a fifth win of 2019 this afternoon.
Always best with some cut, he has finally learned to settle this season and that has surely brought about his significant improvement in form. He has proved hard to pass with valuable handicap wins at York, in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon and the Portland at Doncaster.
He then made the transition to pattern class when gamely winning at listed level at York. 5F on fast ground proved just beyond him at Newbury last time, but with more emphasis on stamina today thanks to the soft going he can successfully concede weight all round.
Ascot 3.10: Raising Sand & Battered
Two of the older horses in the field are fancied.
Top weight Raising Sand will need to be at his best to defy a mark of 109, but everything is in his favour for another big run. He made it four wins at this track in July – the last two coming over this 7f trip in big field handicaps. There is no doubt this undulating track suits him perfectly – as does soft going which brings his strong finish further into play. He was a fine third in a Group 3 at Haydock last time, but this straight track and likely stronger pace will play far more to his strengths.
Battered was twice a winner of 7f handicaps on soft going in 2017 and finally looks to be recapturing his best form having missed last term through injury. He was a close fourth at Newmarket last week on faster going – his second start of the turf season and should just about be at his peak now for today. He can take a pull, but ought to be able to get plenty of cover in this field and he should welcome a return to a soft surface.
Ascot 3.40: Raucous
This looks something of a sub-standard Group 3 and affords Raucous the chance of going one grade better having won a listed contest at Newmarket last time.
Raucous is perhaps best known for his consistent performances in valuable handicaps and he finished a fine third in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood this summer. However that Newmarket win showed he has regained the winning habit after a series of placed efforts (though he did also win a lower grade affair at Yarmouth this season.)
He has raced entirely on fast ground in 2019, but he has plenty of good form with cut – his only win of last season came on the only occasion he raced on softer than good at Goodwood. He was also a fine third in this very race in 2016 as a 3yo on soft going. At the prices he looks well worth an each-way punt.
Redcar 4.10: Zip
This race is made up of horses who have contested mile handicaps at the track during 2019, but many of the runners won’t be suited by the very soft ground. One who will is definitely Zip.
He is yet to win in eleven attempts on turf, but was twice placed on heavy going at Haydock in the spring and was third at Thirsk in August on a slow surface. You can forget his last run as he pulled too hard in a visor – that headgear is removed today.
With his promising apprentice’s claim he only has 8-0 to carry today which must be an advantage in such gruelling conditions. With so few of his rivals proven on soft going at a mile, Zip looks sure to be thereabouts.
1pt win – Dakota Gold – 2.00 Ascot – 3/1 Betfred, Totesport
0.75pts each-way – Raising Sand – 3.10 Ascot – 7/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.75pts each-way – Battered – 3.10 Ascot – 11/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.75pts each-way – Raucous – 3.40 Ascot – 11/1 general
1pt each-way – Zip – 4.10 Redcar – 10/1 Bet365, BetVictor