A field of ten go to post for the seventh race of the day at Ascot on Friday. See our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Banksea won the Spring Cup two starts ago and if bouncing back from his flop in the Royal Hunt Cup, he looks to have strong claims. Preference though is for EMELL, who is on a long losing run but is now down to a mark of 95, which is three pounds lower than his mark when placing over course and distance in August 2016. He’s been set some very tough tasks this year and now back into handicap company, he has a good chance to return to the winner’s enclosure for Tim Vaughan.
1 BANKSEA – Won the Spring Cup two starts ago with a strong late surge to lead towards the line, though it’s hard to not be disappointing by his blow out in the Royal Hunt Cup when last seen. Perhaps the race wasn’t to suit that day though and if recapturing his Spring Cup form he’d be a huge danger here, with his mainly consistent profile touting that he should bounce back quickly. Looks the main danger and has to be considered.
2 SACRED ACT – Won three starts ago at Sandown in a Class 3 Handicap, quickening very smartly to get his rider out of jail late in the day. He’s not been disgraced the last twice in Class 2 company, finishing third on his latest start at Newmarket when racing in the group that was disadvantaged. He’s on the same mark here and makes his debut for Michael Bell, who looks to have made a very shrewd purchase. Has to be respected.
3 BIG BAZ – Won a Listed race at Kempton in November 2015 but he’s found life very tough since then, with his ninth in the Spring Cup at Newbury his only real effort of note since. He was last seen finishing sixth at York on his latest start which was better but his strike rate since his last win is less than impressive and it’s really not hard to look elsewhere against some in form rivals.
4 EMELL – Last win came back in April 2015 for Tim Vaughan but he’s been set some really tough tasks of late, last seen at Windsor in a Listed race on debut for this yard. He’s now down to a mark of 95 which seems him three pounds lower than when he placed over course and distance in August 2016, so he’s more than capable off this mark. Mitch Godwin takes off a further five pounds and a bold bid looks likely.
5 CAPTAIN CAT – Quirky customer for Tony Carroll who has failed to recapture his best form since joining this yard, well held on all his runs in 2017. He never threatened to get involved on his latest start at Kempton and with lots of in form rivals here, he’s passed over with confidence.
6 SECRET ART – Won off this mark back in May at Windsor, but that race wasn’t quite as tough as this and he’s mainly struggled of late. He could only manage a well held third in a Class 3 Handicap at Windsor on his latest start and this is obviously much more competitive, so he does look set to miss out here despite Silvestre De Sousa taking the ride.
7 LEADER WRITER – Only two runs in Britain for Henry Spiller, disappointing on British debut before a good effort when third over course and distance in Shergar Cup race. This is much more competitive but he does have definite each way claims with conditions similar, as he we likely haven’t seen the best of him yet.
8 TRUTH OR DARE – Ended a long losing sequence when relishing the softer ground conditions at Glorious Goodwood to score in good style, though back on better ground he was soundly dismissed in a big field handicap off four pounds higher. He had no excuses that day and off the same mark he looks set for another struggle, with his overall strike rate doing his claims no favour.
9 EAGLE CREEK – Going the right way for Simon Crisford, bouncing back from a heavy handicap debut defeat to finish second in a Class 3 Handicap at Pontefract three weeks ago. There is likely more to come from him as he’s thoroughly unexposed with top connections, though this is tougher than his latest start assignment and he has something to prove at this level. Hard to dismiss him entirely but he comes with risks attached.
10 KNIGHT OWL – Ran well to finish third at Ripon three starts ago, with the strong pace helping him massively as he kept on gamely. He’s not been anywhere near that level though in two subsequent runs and he’ll need improvement to feature here, with a mark of 90 fair on his runs last year for James Fanshawe. Each way claims at his best under three pound claimer George Wood, but that is all.
11 STORM AHEAD – Finished eighth in a big field handicap at Newmarket in May and he’s four pounds lower here, but he does need to bounce back from a poor effort at Goodwood when last seen. The cheekpieces go on as connections look for further improvement and with Tregoning’s yard going well at present he couldn’t be discounted, but others are higher on the shortlist.
12 AFAAK – Won a Class 4 Handicap at Doncaster in good style but he’s not built on that the last twice, well held in the Britannia at Royal Ascot before a fourth at Newmarket in Class 3 company. It’s too soon to write him off but his improvement does seem to have stagnated and he needs something more in a competitive race for the grade. He’s an each way player under David Probert.