I’ve found Flinders for the Hunt Cup

Ascot selections Wednesday 16th June

Day Two at Ascot and the ground will be fast and a hot and sunny day in Berkshire. Lord North’s withdrawal robs us of a great duel with Love in the Prince of Wales, but we still have an excellent day with the Hunt Cup the big betting race. I have selections for three races on the card. We got off to a strong start on Tuesday with Oxted a 9/1 winner and there were each-way placed efforts for Sir Busker (22/1), Global Storm (advised 9/2) and Arthurian Fable (8/1).

Ascot 3.05: Dancing King & Ruling

The Queens Vase is always a fascinating puzzle, even over its reduced distance of 14f these days, as very few of the runners have run over this far before, so pedigrees need close examination.

However there are no doubts with stamina for DANCING KING who has already won at the trip at Doncaster a couple of weeks ago. This 3yo has been transformed since being gelded over the winter, switched into handicaps and stepped up in distance. You won’t find an easier handicap winner all season than him at Wolverhampton back in March, despite the fact he wandered all over the place under pressure.

So green that day, he has become far more professional in his outlook since, exemplified by that narrow but solid victory over stablemate Kondo Isami last time. I suspect there was a little more in the locker if required and he is handily drawn on the inside for the short run to the first bend. Fast ground is no issue and he is totally battle hardened now.

The maiden RULING is amongst the stoutest bred in the field. He was not beaten far in a 12f listed race at Leopardstown last time, keeping on right to the line and an extra 2f will suit. A son of Camelot, he is out of a German Oaks winner who has bred strong middle to long distance horses throughout her breeding career.

Ascot 5.00: Haqeeqy, Escobar & Matthew Flinders

There is not a huge weight differential between top and bottom here and I am looking for horses proven in big field handicaps.

Of course HAQEEQY must come into calculations having strode away with the Lincoln at the start of the season on unseasonably fast ground. Whilst he is up 7lbs today – and does not have a 7lb claimer on board, he is the sort of horse that likes to come off a fast pace and get plenty of cover. That was also what happened when he won at the Leger meeting last season.

He was beaten in a listed race here in April, but did not get the sort of cover he needs in a much smaller field and I think he will be better off carrying a big weight in a race like this than taking part in a classy, but tactical pattern race.

ESCOBAR is being underrated by bookmakers on the basis of a series of defeats in small fields. However it is this sort of race he thrives in, such as when winning the Balmoral on Champions Day here in 2019. He showed he retains his ability when third in the Victoria Cup last month – and that was over 7f, where the extra furlong today will play to his strengths. He is only a pound higher than for that course win and his middle draw gives jockey Danny Tudhope options on where to make his challenge.

Top pick today though is MATTHEW FLINDERS. I have had this horse on my mind for this ever since last summer and he showed how good he is in a stiff mile when winning at the Leger meeting last season. He had to come from a long way back to finish third at Newbury in the Spring Cup and found the speed track at York all against him last time.

The strong end-to-end gallop in this race will bring out the very best in him and Oisin Murphy gets on well with this lad having partnered him to his novice win at Doncaster and in that Newbury race in April. He remains very unexposed after just eight starts.

Ascot 6.10: Dreamloper & Dalanijujo

In a trappy finale I have two suggestions in a wide open contest.

DREAMLOPER can take a hold in her races and that suggests a big field and strong gallop like this will always be her optimum conditions. She won a smaller race over course and distance last September and was a big eyecatcher on her debut when flying home from the rear over 7f at Haydock on quick ground. She raced freely on seasonal debut that day, but could not get a run until far too late.

She then showed her liking again for the stiff mile here when just touched off by Lights On last month and is a pound better off today. A hood was applied that day to help her settle and it almost worked too well as she was off the bridle a long way out, before again finishing strongly. Quicker ground today will help and she is a pound better off with the winner.

At bigger odds I like the claims too of DALANIJUJO. A winner on debut as a juvenile over 7f, she was largely campaigned at 10f last season, improving steadily through the year, culminating in a second place at York’s Ebor meeting.

However she tended to race keenly in her races, so has been re-invented as a miler this season. That all started really well when she found plenty for pressure to win at Yarmouth last month and this stiff mile could be right up her street. A 4lb rise was not overly harsh and she remains at the right end of the handicap.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way- Dancing King – 3.05 Ascot – 8/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 4)

0.5pts each-way – Ruling – 3.05 Ascot – 12/1 Skybet, William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 5)

1pt each-way – Haqeeqy – 5.00 Ascot – 15/2 Betfred (1/5 odds 1st 6)

0.5pts each-way – Escobar – 5.00 Ascot – 40/1 Bet365 (¼ odds 1st 5)

1pt each-way – Matthew Flinders – 5.00 Ascot – 8/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 7)

1pt each-way – Dreamloper – 6.10 Ascot – 4/1 Bet365 (¼ odds 1st 4)

0.5pts each-way – Dalanijujo – 6.10 Ascot – 28/1 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 5)

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