The feature race on Friday’s Ascot card is a good-quality handicap over 1m. Read our horse-by-horse race preview for our experts’ betting tips.
IN SUMMARY: Grand Inquisitor is suited by the straight course here and on a workable mark if a first-time visor gets the best out of him but his form has dipped on recent outings and he has some questions to answer. Godolphin’s lightly raced 3yo Very Talented holds an engagement in Group company later this month and he looks interesting on today’s handicap debut, having been absent since contesting the Craven Stakes in April. However, SIR RODERIC, a four-time winner this season who has climbed a long way up the weights, may not have finished improving and gets the vote. Shergar Cup Mile winner Early Morning also has a part to play.
1 Spark Plug – Dropped to 1m to contest valuable handicap at last month’s York Ebor and kept on well to finish a very creditable fourth of 20; runs off the same mark here but was suited by the strong gallop on that occasion and may not be seen to the same effect this time.
2 Hors De Combat – Without a win since May 2014 and was no match for the clear winner when second at Newmarket (1m, good to firm) two starts ago; that still goes down as a good effort and he didn’t enjoy the run of the race at Goodwood last time, but connections now reach for blinkers and others appeal more.
3 Early Morning – Not beaten far when eight in the Royal Hunt Cup over C&D in June and held on well to land the Shergar Cup Mile on the round course here last month; latest 2lb rise doesn’t look excessive and he can make him presence felt again.
4 Alfred Hutchinson – Yet to strike for new stable this season; has run well a couple of times over 7f and stays 1m well enough but could use some help from the handicapper and was a bit disappointing at the York Ebor meeting last month.
5 Bancnuanaheireann – Unable to land a significant blow on his three runs in Dubai in January/February (1m1f-1m2f) but, following a break, returned to form when fourth to Early Morning in the Shergar Cup Mile here last month; in the mix if building on that performance.
6 Balmoral Castle – Drew clear to score by 5l over C&D (good to soft) on seasonal debut in April but was hiked up 10lb for that; had some excuses over 1m2f at Glorious Goodwood on only previous outing but still needs to prove he can cope with his current mark.
7 Grand Inquisitor – Needs to get back on track after a couple of disappointing efforts but still has fairly low mileage; now 2lb lower than when fifth of 26 in the Victoria Cup over 7f here in May and will be fine over 1m; major player if aided by first-time visor.
8 Very Talented – Delivered on earlier promise when quite impressive winner of Doncaster maiden (1m, good) just under a year ago, his third start; seen only once again since then, when last of six in the Craven Stakes in April, but has sights lowered today and his Group 2 entry later this month suggests connections still think plenty of him.
9 Aclaim – 3yo who has raced exclusively over 6f to this point (six starts); stayed on for very respectable fifth in valuable event at Newmarket last month and it will be interesting to see how he fares over today’s longer trip.
10 Sir Roderic – Began the season with a BHA rating of 67 but is 30lb higher now, having won four times (7f-8.3f); went close at Newmarket (1m, good to firm) on latest outing four weeks ago and further improvement certainly not out of the question.
11 Marcret – Has left James Unett since finishing down the field over 7.6f at Chester on both starts this summer; starts off for Grace Harris on a workable mark and ran quite well in this race last year but others have much more obvious claims.
12 Truth Or Dare – Been given a break since midfield finish over 1m2f at Newmarket in May; has some form over 1m but is without a win since August 2013 and his best recent form had been recorded on Polytrack.
myracing Forecast Prices: 4/1 Very Talented, 5/1 Early Morning, 6/1 Spark Plug, 7/1 Hors De Combat, Grand Inquisitor, Sir Roderic, 10/1 Bancnuanaheireann, 12/1 Aclaim, 14/1 Balmoral Castle, 16/1 Alfred Hutchinson, 20/1 Truth Or Dare, 33/1 Marcret