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My angle in handicaps at Ascot is always to start with outside draws. Everyone assumes you want to be drawn towards the inside in a big field here but history shows that the wide draws tend to do better. The two who jumped off the page for me are ZIGGY and the top weight DANEHILL KODIAC. Ziggy should be fit, was very progressive last season. Didn’t stay a 1m6f on his last start but otherwise he was progressive with each run. Drawn in 16, I don’t think fitness will be an issue. Danehill Kodiac beat the Arc winner over course and distance going back a few years. If the right price I might have a little each-way saver on him.
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I think the horse that’s overpriced here is Jane Chapple-Hyam’s EX GRATIA. Lightly raced and hadn’t tried further than 6f until a 7th on her handicap debut last time out at Lingfield. That might look disappointing on paper but she had a bad draw that day. Being drawn in stall 5 means she’ll get a good run and I think she is value.
I think AL AASY‘s probably got too much class for these. I can see him just travelling within himself and getting there as he did in his first couple of starts last season. Up in class he is vulnerable because when he comes off the bridle there’s not a lot left there. I’d have been keener on him at Chester and I’d be slightly lukewarm on him but at odds against I’ll side with him.
I think Walk Of Stars looks bad value. Natural World has plenty of scope for improvement, I don’t like once-tried horses in the trials, I think you need a little bit of experience. UNITED NATIONS doesn’t look a superstar but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Aidan O’Brien get some improvement out of him.
The ground is the issue here and most of the big guns want it to be good. I’m inclined to have a small bet on an outsider here who I can’t see winning but I can see placing because of his run style and that is INGLEBY HOLLOW. He’s a very consistent handicapper who gets held up and he just makes ground through horses at the end.
Rogue Millennium and Belt Buckle are a little inexperienced for me to back here. I find this quite a tough race, I’m going to go with MYSTIC WELLS. She was rated 84 and now steps up markedly in class. It looks like she’s got plenty on her plate and I was impressed with how she won at Brighton and has a nice draw in 7.
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The one I like here is AURIA for Andrew Balding. She ran arguably her best race last season when second here on her reappearance behind Creative Flare who won a Group 2 the other day and was clear of the others. I thought she showed a lot of promise there and went on to win the Listed race at Sandown in the summer. A Group 2 at Newmarket last time out was a bit too hard though the track didn’t seem to suit. Still farily unexposed she looks a genuinely progressive filly. A solid each-way bet.
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The turf track at Lingfield definitely quites those with natural speed and I thought LOLA SHOWGIRL poses and interesting each way bet. She has a fair bit to find on form but she won at York and Aston early last season. I thought she ran pretty well at Kempton last time out and I think her and Symphony Perfect are the only two with real pace. She can spring a surprise and I can’t resist at the price.
This is always a competitive race with a massive field as well. Horses drawn high tend to do well and that’s where I start with the Victoria Cup. River Nymph has won this in the past and is a very good price. I’m looking at the high draws and I’d happily have CHIEFOFCHIEFS, Oo De Lally, Accidental Agent, Vafortino or River Nymph in a forecast. Oo De Lally has a poor Ascot record and I’d need him to be bigger to back each way. Chiefofchiefs’s record in good races here means he’ll be very hard to kick out of the frame. If I had to have one here to hit the frame it would be him.
Rory Delargy’s best bets:
- 13:45 Ascot – Ziggy & Danehill Kodiac (EW)
- 14:05 Lingfield – Ex Gratia
- 14:20 Ascot – Al Aasy
- 14:40 Lingfield – United Nations
- 15:00 Haydock – Ingleby Hollow
- 15:15 Lingfield – Mystic Wells
- 15:30 Ascot – Auria
- 15:50 Lingfield – Lola Showgirl (EW)
- 16:05 Ascot – Chiefofchiefs (EW)
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