Run over the same trip as the Ascot Gold Cup later in the week, the Ascot Stakes allows the handicappers their time to shine and often the prize heads back to a predominantly jumping yard. Read on for our Ascot Stakes tips and betting preview.
IN SUMMARY: Thomas Hobson looks like being a short priced favourite here for Willie Mullins and Ryan Moore but he has enough to prove on good to firm ground and at this trip, it’s easy enough to pass him over given his price. Oceane looks likely to be in the mix given his stamina is proven over this trip, as is that of Beyond Conceit and both hold strong each way claims. The vote goes to WHO DARES WINS who showed improved form over hurdles during the Winter, form that suggests he is on a winnable mark back on the flat, with the step up in trip looking likely to suit on his Chester Cup fourth.
1 INICIAR – First run on the flat for over two years, stepped up a mile further in trip than he has tried in this discipline. A dual handicap hurdle winner since joining the David Pipe yard, that level of form leaves him with an awful lot to prove from such a high mark.
2 SHREWD – Trained by the right man for his name, he has won five times in nineteen starts for the yard. The most recent of those was at York last June from a mark some eleven pounds lower than he finds himself here and looks set for a struggle with the majority of his better form on a softer surface.
3 SUEGIOO – Winner of the Chester Cup in 2014, that was the last time he got his head in front. He races from a mark still seven pounds higher than that victory, acquitting himself well in the face of difficult tasks since, including the Ascot Gold Cup in 2016. He was only a head behind Yorkidding last time out from this mark and he shouldn’t be discounted with this trip likely to suit.
4 THOMAS HOBSON – Trainer Willie Mullins was mob handed in this contest at the early declaration stages, but this is his sole representative and with Ryan Moore booked, it’s no surprise to see him attracting the lion share of early market support. He hasn’t run on the flat however since leaving John Gosden, his last start in October 2013, when winning over a mile and a half. He has won over this trip over hurdles but the different cadence of jump racing and much quicker ground leave him with more than enough to prove given his price.
5 YORKIDDING – Game win last time out at Haydock when seeing off Suegioo by a head. She is an out and out stayer and with her penchant for quick ground, conditions are certainly in her favour. Despite that, whether she is good enough to be more than an each way contender from a career high mark is certainly debatable.
6 CLEONTE – Won a Listed race at Deauville last summer, following that up with a fine third in a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud. Those were both over a mile and seven furlongs, benefitting from the step up in trip, but he ran poorly on his only start for the Andrew Balding team at Newmarket in May. This is the furthest he has raced at and given the Newmarket flop was his first go on this type of quick ground, he is hard to be confident about.
7 MAGIC CIRCLE – Showed massive improvement for being gelded and going handicapping, rising from an early mark of 60 to his current perch of 98. Fifth in the Chester Cup from a wide draw was a smart effort but he has another challenge to slot in from the worst of the draw again here. Four of his five wins have come with the word soft in the going description which tempers confidence over the suitability of the underfoot conditions.
8 HIGH SECRET – Was a typical Sir Mark Prescott improver once he hit handicaps, climbing the ranking through both 2014 and 2015. He picked up a pair of novice hurdles for Paul Nicholls earlier this year, returning to the flat with a sound runner up effort behind Top Tug at Goodwood. He has a bit to prove with regards to his stamina but he enjoys quick ground.
9 STAR RIDER – Didn’t appear to enjoy a spell hurdling over the winter but her win in the Goodwood Stakes over his trip last July, makes her one of the few without a stamina query. She is ten pounds higher now and ran poorly when returning to the flat at Newbury last time out but she holds an each way squeak at a big price.
10 COSMELLI – Won a pair of races in Italy over a mile and three furlongs on heavy ground but has shaped with far less promise in a pair of runs in the U.K. Has lots to prove with regards to trip and ground and as such is impossible to support.
11 ENDLESS ACRES – Yet to run on quick turf but he is still massively unexposed after just the seven starts, improving for the step up to two miles when seen on the all weather in April and May. His sire relished quick ground so chances are that he will go on it but this is a very different test to anything he has faced so far.
12 OCEANE – Third home in the 2016 Goodwood Stakes over this trip, a race that didn’t suit his hold up style on a sharp track, rattling home from the back to grab third but with no chance of catching the pair in front of him who had both sat a little closer to the pace. He won at York the next time out, digging deep over two miles on the quick ground that he needs to be seen at his best. He ran well last time here over two miles and with the ground in his favour, holds a strong each way chance.
13 GALIZZI – Was sent off at just 8/1 for this contest last year for Godolphin but with both his flat turf wins on good to firm ground, it was no surprise to see him well beaten on soft. He has not been seen since July, making his debut for Tim Vaughan now, which leaves him with a little to prove.
14 WHO DARES WINS – Five year old has done nothing but improve in his career, taking his form to a new level over the Winter, signing off over hurdles with a third placed effort in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. That was from a mark of 146 which makes his current mark of 93 on the flat look well within his grasp. He was a staying on fourth in the Chester Cup when last seen and with two wins on good to firm ground already to his credit, he very much looks the one to beat in this field.
15 MOORSIDE – A length and three quarter third to So Mi Dar and a half length second to Somehow in her early runs read incredibly well in the context of this race. She has just a single success to her credit however, a mile and a half maiden on the all weather at Kempton. She has been well seen off all three times she has tried ground this quick and with stamina to prove, she is tough to support.
16 CARTWRIGHT – Another typical Sir Mark Prescott type, he has improved from 57 to 95 since going handicapping. He won over two miles on the all weather in May but flopped badly at Newmarket shortly after. He has won with cut in the ground and from a quick turnaround so that form is hard to excuse but if back to his best, he would have an outside chance if the step up in trip suits.
17 GAVLAR – Consistent enough at his level but it’s over two years since he last scored on turf. That was at Goodwood from a mark of 78 so although he won off 90 at Newcastle in March, a mark of 92 is likely beyond him in this company.
18 BEYOND CONCEIT – Another who is potentially well handicapped back on the flat following a Winter campaign over hurdles. He hasn’t run on the flat for almost four years but he was placed over this trip at Goodwood when last seen in this discipline from the same mark. Nicky Henderson won this race in 2011 with Veiled so a big showing would come as no surprise.
19 WOLFCATCHER – Well beaten off in this race last year for Charlie Appleby from a two pound higher mark, when the soft ground should have suited. Shown little in three runs for Ian Williams so is very hard to support here.
20 RAINBOW DREAMER – Strong stayer, relished the step up to two miles and two furlongs when winning on good to firm ground at Newbury when last seen. This is a significantly deeper race but that was close to a career best and he shapes as if this trip is going to be within his reach.