3.10pm Ascot tips for Friday’s Class 2 race. A hugely competitive 14 runner handicap is one of two big races at Ascot on Friday. Read on for our free betting tips, predictions and analysis.
IN SUMMARY: Ekhtiyaar had ULTIMATE AVENUE behind him when scoring at Newmarket in July, but preference is for the latter to reverse the form. He had a poor passage at Newmarket and didn’t handle the track when ninth at Goodwood on his latest start. He remains unexposed after six runs and a mark of 100 will do little to stop him going in under Jamie Spencer with conditions fine. The Feathered Nest got up in the shadows of the post when scoring at Newmarket last time out and heads up the dangers.
1 BACCHUS – Had both Merlin and Silent Echo held in behind when scoring at Newmarket on his latest start, winning on the nod. He’s only up five pounds here and should run well again as he’s still lightly raced and more could be to come.
2 EKHTIYAAR – Has been hugely progressive this year for Roger Varian, winning his third career race when scoring at Newmarket in good style. He’s up another six pounds but looks like a group calibre horse in the making and has to be respected.
3 ULTIMATE AVENUE – Only beaten half a length by Ekhtiyaar at Newmarket when last seen after a poor passage, not handling the course when last seen at Goodwood. He’s on the same mark here and remains unexposed. With further improvement more than likely back at this easier track, he should be going very close.
4 VICTORY ANGEL – Finally got back on track when taking a Yarmouth handicap on his latest start, only pushed out to win by De Sousa. He is back up nine pounds in the handicap though and is raised in class, so it’s very easy to look elsewhere.
5 NOBLY BORN – Strung together some good runs in competitive handicaps before finding the ground too testing over course and distance when last seen. The blinkers are now tried and if getting back on his progressive curve he holds each way claims under Frankie Dettori.
6 MERLIN – Has clearly been suited by the switch to sprinting the last thrice, only finishing two lengths behind Bacchus at Newmarket two starts ago. Ryan Moore is up for the first time now and he’s a likely each way contender if improving again.
7 SMOKEY LANE – Relished the return to a softer surface when second at Leicester on his latest start, remaining on the same mark here. He’s more exposed than most of his rivals and needs plenty of rain if he’s to be in with a fighting chance today.
8 DARK POWER – Has a tendency to run too freely early on and, although he got away with it at Leicester, he didn’t at Newmarket when last seen. He’s now up in class and runs for a yard that is out of sorts, so he looks on the back foot here.
9 WAQAAS – Won on his third start when taking a Doncaster maiden in July 2016, but he’s been well held on both his runs in 2017 after a year’s lay-off. Needs to bounce back in a big way and, despite been lowered a further three pounds, it’s hard to recommend him here.
10 REPTON – Can make excuses for his latest run over course and distance but he was well held in two runs beforehand. He’s dropped a further three pounds but makes little appeal in a field full of in-form horses, with his only win remaining a maiden.
11 SILENT ECHO – Only raced on five occasions and wasn’t far behind Bacchus on his latest start, with the handicapper dropping him a pound. More is needed to reverse those terms but he’s still unexposed and holds each way claims with conditions to suit.
12 PARNASSIAN – Never travelling when struggling badly from an early stage at Windsor when last seen on debut for this yard. Ground with cut in it clearly doesn’t suit as well as faster going and he’s well down the list here.
13 THE FEATHERED NEST – Posted a career best when beating several subsequent winners at Newmarket on his latest start, leading in the final strides. She’s only up two pounds and has to be considered a threat under Paul Hanagan as there is likely more to come.
14 STANHOPE – Runner-up the last thrice for Mick Quinn, yet the latest of those came in Class 4 company at Yarmouth. He’s now up another pound in the weights and also up in grade, so looks very vulnerable to simply better horses.