Race Time: 2.40pm Meeting: Ascot
Full Race Name: Weatherbys Private Banking Handicap Class Two
We really like the look of this one-mile handicap and suspect that if three quarters of those declared bright and early actually show for the race we could be in for an exciting contest and one where the form could end up being a whole lot better than the average. With Ryan Moore still off sick Sir Michael Stoute has pretty quickly snapped up Pat Smullen to ride a few of his on Saturday including the interesting Grand Inquisitor (7/2) who is very much on an upward curve. A son of Dansili part owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, after an educational debut at Newbury he simply hasn’t looked back with a very comfortable win over a mile in his Nottingham maiden followed by a seven furlong victory that was a bit more hard fought at Sandown that at least showed he also knows how to battle. Some feel he was sent to the front far too soon that day and back at a mile and probably in a bigger field they should be able to hold him up as necessary meaning that even a weight rise of eleven pounds may not be enough to stop him assuming he improves again – and with the third from his last race winning twice since, there is every reason to believe that can and will happen. Richard Hannon will be looking for a bi run from Mutasayyid (10/1) who is the only course and distance winner in the field – all be them on separate occasions. He did win on his return to action at Newmarket over this mile on goo to firm ground but instead of improving since looks to have gone a bit backwards with a well beaten ninth of twelve to Mutarakez at Newbury followed by a third to Western Reserve when looking a bit one paced back at Newmarket again. That did make us wonder whether the mile was pushing his stamina limits and if that is the case he could be in trouble here with a fast pace almost assured and he won’t be carrying our money until he offers up a bit more proof that he deserves to.
With Paul Hanagan on board Mutasayyid, stable jockey Richard Hughes is now free to ride Brian Meehan’s Ashridge Lad (14/1) who is another very serious contender in what is looking more and more like a trickier than average race to even try to solve. Dropped back in to maiden class last time out at Newmarket he romped home hard held by over four lengths, making all the running and basically never seeing another horse. If those tactics are tried again here he could make life very interesting indeed though we cannot help but feel that Mr Hughes may be better on a hold up horse – and that those tactics have failed in the past with the son of Invincible Spirit. Rocket Punch (8/1) would be another on the list of rapid improvers and being in training with Andrew Balding we can fully expect that trend to continue. Another following the path of educational debut, maiden, then low grade handicap before moving up a gear, the son of 2000 Guineas winner Makfi debuted at Haydock before wins at Goodwood and Kempton, the last run catching the eye with a slowly away but quick to finish performance that showed he has a decent enough turn of foot to suggest he is value off his current mark and may yet be one step ahead of the dreaded handicapper. Lastly, and not leastly in a race ripe with talent that you just know will win plenty of future races between them, how about a little each way consideration for Mick Halford’s Potage (7/1)? A Godolphin owned colt he looked well above average when taking his maiden at The Curragh but has disappointed on both runs this season for whatever reason. We do not believe a horse can just lose all its talent overnight like that so can only assume that connections will have been working out just why he seems to be failing to perform and if they find it (who knows?), then one thing is for certain – they will have a very well handicapped horse on their hands and today could yet be that day?