3.40pm Ascot – EBF Breeders’ Series Fillies’ Handicap Class two – 1m
Yet another ultra competitive handicap to work through and where David O’Meara’s classy Pandora (5/1) is all set to carry top weight with the excellent Danny Tudhope in the saddle. Formerly in the care of Charlie Hills, she won her maiden over a mile and a quarter first time out at Doncaster and was then thrown in at the deep end and ran a blinder to finish third to Star Of Seville at York in the Group Three Musidora Stakes before finishing well beaten when eased behind Curvy in the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes. Despite what we felt was an obvious lack of stamina, they persevered over a mile and a half next time out where she faded again in to seventh at Newmarket before she changed trainers over the winter. We feel that over a mile and a quarter she will be competitive in better than handicap class, but surely a mile is too short for her and others will have way too much speed.
With the Mick Channon yard still in great form we do like the each-way chances of Gratzie (10/1 Each Way), a five-year-old whose chances are not glaringly obvious at first glance until you look a little deeper in to her form. Five wins, a second, and two thirds from just the fifteen runs is impressive for any handicapper, one win over this mile and four others over half a furlong further – so this is clearly her best trip. Good or quicker gong suits her ideally and although she is off a mark of 89 today she is slowly slipping back down the weights to a mark she can win off of, and we think she can run a huge race today with a place the minimum connections will be expecting.
Light And Shade (13/2) is second in the weights and next on our short list for handler James Tate and ran a race full of promise on her return when third behind Kyllachy Queen at Kempton is the Listed Snowdrop Stakes despite looking as if the run would do her a power of good, and taking a walk in the betting to 14/1 at the off. Outpaced for a short while, she then ran on strongly to place and seems sure to come on for the run, while the drop back in to handicap company must surely be in her favour, and better still she hasn’t been put up in the weights. Both of her wins have been over this mile, one here at Ascot so we know she handles the track, and as things stand she must have a great chance of making the frame at least.
Sussex trainer David Menusier can do little wrong despite a small string and he has Havre De Paix (7/1) engaged here as the daughter of Le Havre looks to follow up her Chelmsford maiden victory. It wasn’t really much of a race to be fair and we are not so sure that a rating of 89 isn’t a little harsh, but she seems sure to improve for the run, stays a mile, is fit, and in form, so she must have a half decent chance when you look at some of her rivals.
Kieren Fallon is back and riding well again (he has always had the talent whatever others may say), and he is on board Margaret’s Mission (14/1) who has an outside chance of making it in to a place. Now a five year old, she hasn’t won (or even looked like winning) in her last five races since being rated over 80, but won three on the bounce over a mile last summer and has been exclusively raced over anything but the mile ever since! With her interesting jockey booking there is a sniff of a potential gamble back at her best trip and we will be watching the betting accordingly.
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