Race Time: 2.00pm Meeting: Ascot Distance: 1m 4f
Full Race Name: Leo Bancroft Signature Hairway Handicap Class Three
Another one of those fabulous middle distance handicaps that pit’s the wits of the jumpers with their fitness advantage against their generally classier flat counterparts, some of whom will need their first or second runs of the new season. Totalize is booked to carry top weight and could run well with Richard Hughes in the saddle but this may be a little too short for him these days and we will risk bypassing him for other options. Grumeti (16/1) is a horse we have always liked, and he was formerly with Michael Bell but is now with Alan King, who is better known for his exploits over the jumps. Now a seven year old he won’t be getting any better with age but he does at least stay this trip standing on his head, and is one to at least consider if you are thinking of an each way shot at a big price (as he should be).
Forgotten Hero (15/2) is a horse who has flattered to deceive on too many occasions for our liking but at his best he is a capable beast, and we feel he will run a big big race this afternoon. One win and one second place in four attempts at this mile and a half trip suggest he should run well this afternoon, while a pipe opener at Epsom when running on strongly over a mile and a quarter will have put him cherry ripe for this contest and if he doesn’t win now it may take some time until he does! Instant Karma (14/1) tops our current outsiders with a chance list and Michael Bell looks to get the son of Peintre Celebre back to his best after a very lacklustre return to action when only seventh of ten ant Epsom, beaten thirteen lengths. He is a big backward baby of a horse even at the age of four and needed the run even more than they thought, but he is also better with a bit of cut in the ground which he seems likely to get here if the rains continue as they have been in the last few days. Ed Dunlop is back in amongst the winners again lately with Trip To Paris and he will be looking for a better run from Oasis Fantasy who disappointed when seventh of ten on his return to action at Thirsk. He weakened late on that day but has won over the mile and a half trip so we can only guess at a lack of fitness, and he should be a lot better here though whether he is good enough to take this event at his best is open to conjecture.
Lastly, anyone ignoring a Luca Cumani handicapper at the moment has a screw loose and we cannot ignore the chances of Penhill (10/3) with James Doyle booked to ride. After wins at Thirsk and Ripon last year he appeared to be in the handicappers grip but is slowly dropping back down the weights to a mark he may well be capable of winning from. We are wary that he is inclined to need a run or two to put him straight which may be enough to put some off him here – but having seen the final declarations he does in fact look the most likely winner for a stable taking plenty of the gig handicaps on a Saturday so far this season.