The weather forecast in the Ascot area is unsettled and there’s a chance conditions may become more testing. Here are five whose chances would increase on soft ground.
Sir Dragonet was a beaten odds-on favourite on heavy ground on his reappearance at Naas in March, but that defeat was probably down to a lack of sharpness rather than a problem with testing conditions. Sir Dragonet burst onto the scene last year, winning a Tipperary maiden and the Chester Vase on soft ground, winning so easily at Chester that he was sent off favourite for the Derby (finished a close-up fifth). Sir Dragonet has not shown anything like his best form on either start over ten furlongs, seemingly finding it an insufficient test, so he will be well suited if conditions deteriorate and bring his stamina into play.
Art Power showed some promise on debut over six furlongs on the tapeta at Newcastle and then displayed improved form to get off the mark at York over five furlongs on soft ground. It’s not a surprise that he relished testing conditions as his dam, Evening Time, was a real mudlark, while his siblings are notably effective on soft ground. He showed he had trained on well when scoring with ease back at Newcastle, looking every inch a smart sprinter in the making, and his claims are clear.
Hamish is effective on any turf going – he won the Melrose at York on ground described as firm by Timeform – but he comes from a family who thrive when conditions are testing, so he won’t be inconvenienced if it becomes soft. Hamish was unraced as a juvenile but progressed rapidly last season, showing run-to-run progress and winning a couple of valuable handicaps along the way. Hamish needs to take another step forward now moving in pattern company, but he is well worth his place, and there remains an air of unfinished business about him.
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One Master is a versatile mare who has shown smart form over six furlongs, seven furlongs and a mile. Her optimum trip is probably seven furlongs, the distance at which she has won the last two editions of the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, but she ran well to finish runner-up in the Champions Sprint Stakes over this course and distance in October. She didn’t get a clear run that day, so was better than the result suggests, and any rain would play to her strengths while weakening the claims of the speedy Sceptical.
The Grand Visir relished the increased emphasis on stamina when winning the Ascot Stakes over two and a half miles on deteriorating ground last year. He was very strong at the finish, finding plenty, and as a thorough stayer proven with cut in the ground he won’t mind any rain that falls before he tackles the Queen Alexandra over just short of two and three-quarter miles.
- Sir Dragonet – Thursday 13:50 Royal Ascot
- Art Power – Friday 13:15 Royal Ascot
- Hamish – Friday 15:00 Royal Ascot
- One Master – Saturday 15:35 Royal Ascot
- The Grand Visir – Saturday 16:40 Royal Ascot
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