Brendan Duke: Spanish City can repel all challengers at Ascot

For a brief moment, Brendan dreamt of a Tiger win at Carnoustie - right about the time his Open hopes fell apart. Ascot provides fresh hope this weekend...

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Fusion. Can’t shake that word for the last couple of days. Wandering the streets mumbling it to myself over and over. Only stopping when distracted by the frightened look in the eyes of small children.

Not a word that concerned me much over the years. Suppose nuclear, Gillette and con have crossed my mind occasionally.
Well, the latter more than occasionally as I spend most of my time in a confused state.

For approximately 30 minutes on Sunday I was convinced that in the future when people thought of fusion they would associate it with just one other word. Spinal. Fusion was to be the gin to spinal’s tonic, Torvill to its Dean.

Tiger was ascending the Open leaderboard as all around the opposition crumbled. He headed to the 11th tee as the 6/4 favourite. I tried to keep my rational head on. 60% chance he loses blah blah blah but in truth was wholly convinced that the GOAT, restored to something close to his best by the miracle of spinal fusion was a certainty.

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As he left the 12th green, now a 20/1 shot, I turned philosophical. ‘Better to journey in hope than to arrive’ they say.

Complete bollocks that. Arriving is class.

Arriving when Tiger wins another big tournament would be timing of such perfection that it would make Les Dawson proud. Hopefully that time is not far off.

Despite the disappointment of last weekend we must move on.

Heavy rain last night meant the smell of petrichor filled my nostrils this morning. Glorious fresh air. It’s all well and good getting some hot weather, but 2 months of it is a bit rich.

My Northern European sensibilities are struggling to cope and I’m really not sure I’ve been myself for some time now.

Eating dinner at 10pm has probably done untold damage to my digestive system. Also, my back is in ribbons after a tempestuous affair with a Flamenco dancer.

The possibility of thunderstorms hangs over Ascot this weekend. However, it’s only a possibility and it seems highly likely that the ground will remain on the quick side.

The bookies are struggling to separate Crystal Ocean and Poets Word at the head of the King George betting. It’s not hard to see why.

Picking the favourite is tricky. If forced to call it, I would agree with Paddy that Poets Word is entitled to marginal preference.

His form is the stronger of the pair, though a career best from Crystal Ocean seems likely. Probably not a race I’ll be having a bet on though.

For a bet, we head to the Gigaset International Stakes on the same card. I was leaning towards Flaming Spear on the back of his fine comeback at the Royal meeting.

However, comments from his trainer regarding the ground are very off putting. Dean Ivory has said he won’t run the horse on quick ground. This isn’t a concern I share, but that doesn’t matter. His likely non-participation draws me to Spanish City.

Last seen finishing second in the Bunbury Cup he’s actually 2lbs well in here. He travelled like the best horse that day and was probably in front a bit soon.

Andrea Atzeni replaces Jack Mitchell and I’d expect to see a more patient ride. He’s still a lightly raced 5-year-old, having had just 12 runs. Also, the progeny of his sire Exceed and Excel have a standout record on the Ascot straight track.

It’s almost certain that Paddy will offer extra places on this race but I think Spanish City will go off favourite so would advise taking the 14/1 currently available.

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What do you think?