Ascot selections Thursday 17th June
Gold Cup day at Ascot and it comes amid uncertainty over the ground. There was less rain than expected overnight, so the going remains fast, but there is steady rain at the time of writing this morning with the prospect of further to come. That makes the big race tough for starters with Stradivarius’ chance compromised by rain, whilst that of chief rival Trueshan reliant on more rain. Therefore I am looking elsewhere for my bets with the nap coming in the relatively unlauded Hampton Court Stakes.
Ascot 3.05: One Ruler
The Derby gets an early test of its form with ONE RULER’s appearance. Sixth in the big race just twelve days ago, that 12f seemed an overly stiff test of stamina for him. However he was not given a hard time once his chance had gone and trainer Charlie Appleby clearly likes what he has seen at home from him over the last few days to let his take his chance once more down in grade.
He was a solid sixth in the Guineas where conversely the mile looked to sharp a test for him. Perhaps he is not quite up to Group 1 level, but this should be his grade and any rain will be a bonus for him. He beat Van Gogh to land the Group 3 Autumn Stakes last season, before just going under to Mac Swiney in desperate conditions in the Futurity at Doncaster. The rain will also play against favourite Mohaafeth who was taken out of the Derby on account of softening ground.
Ascot 5.00: Raadobarg & Dinoo
I’ve had a late change of mind in this race due to the expectation of softer ground. Initially I liked the chances of Royal Pleasure, but he is not likely to appreciate any cut. One who certainly will though is RAADOBARG.
He has already won a big prize in landing the Silver Bowl on heavy at Haydock last month, sluicing through the ground and showing a strong cruising speed in a big field. That will stand him in good stead for today, though he does have to cope with an 11lbs rise. He coped with fast ground through when winning at Leicester in the spring, but the rain will be a bonus as is his draw near the stands rail.
At a bigger price I also like the chances of DINOO. Still a maiden, he showed up well in two runs for Richard Hughes as a juvenile. Second at 50/1 at Newmarket on debut, he then ran respectably for fifth in a Group 3 at Sandown. That was it for the season with him and he left for Roger Varian in the winter.
I would not be too worried about him being defeated in a Wolverhampton maiden on his return. He needed that third run to qualify for this race and missed the break on a tight track, leaving him with too much to do. I liked the way he finished off the race though and he should be suited by an extra furlong, whilst he should also be sharper for that outing.
Ascot 5.35: Nagano, Sir William Bruce & Surefire
As usual plenty of improvers here and I am keen to take on the top weighted favourite who missed Chester due to soft ground. I have three to take him on with.
NAGANO is a work in progress who looked to have plenty to learn in his early races and only made his racecourse debut in April. He was so green when third in the Wood Ditton at Newmarket and came from a near impossible position to win at Nottingham next time over 10f – the fact that win was gained in softish ground is useful too.
He was more professional when winning again at Newcastle last time and hopefully he has matured enough now to take his chance at this level. His rapid improvement might mean he is a step or two ahead of the assessor.
SIR WILLIAM BRUCE is a massive price considering he won a competitive handicap at Leopardstown last time and he is only up 5lbs today, even taking into account the differing weight allocations of the English and Irish handicapper. He looks the sort who only does just enough in front, and idled in front last time. That might just have concealed his true ability and there may be more to come.
We know he stays 12f well, though softer ground would be an unknown.
SUREFIRE impressed me when winning at Leicester ten days ago, and his 6lb penalty for that effort sneaks him into this race. He was virtually the first one off the bridle in that 10f contest, but once asked for his effort he responded willingly and by the end was pulling away from his rivals.
He will surely improve for another 2f and it is interesting that despite the penalty he is 8lbs better off with Siskany for a 1l defeat in his previous race at Windsor. His dam handled soft ground, and so many of Ralph Beckett’s horse thrive in softer going – but if it does stay quick we know he handles that too.
Ascot 6.10: Persuasion & Boardman
Two horses proven to be adept on any surface are fancied in the last.
PERSUASION took some time to regain his confidence after getting well beaten in the 2000 Guineas last season, but finished the season off well with a second place on heavy ground at Leicester behind Tomfre (he is 8lbs better off today). He got 2021 off to a great start by winning at Haydock back in April, finding plenty for pressure and has been kept fresh for this to preserve his handicap mark. He could well turn out to be a real 7f specialist.
BOARDMAN has obvious claims having thrives since joining the Tim Easterby yard. He has landed a hat-trick, winning on all types of ground, on galloping tracks and turning tracks and simply has looked well ahead of the handicapper. An end-to-end gallop over this trip seems to suit him well and I thought he had more in hand than the 6lb rise he has been given when winning at Chester last time – the second home has franked the form by winning at Epsom since.
1pt each-way – One Ruler – 3.05 Ascot – 11/2 Paddy Power
1pt each-way – Raadobarg – 5.00 Ascot – 15/2 BetVictor (1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – Dinoo – 5.00 Ascot – 33/1 Bet365, BetVictor
1pt each-way – Nagano – 5.35 Ascot – 9/1 Skybet (1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt each-way – Surefire – 5.35 Ascot – 13/2 BetVictor (1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.5pts each-way – Sir William Bruce – 5.35 Ascot – 33/1 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt each-way – Persuasion – 6.10 Ascot – 12/1 Skybet (1/5 odds 1st 7)
1pt each-way – Boardman – 6.10 Ascot – 8/1 Bet365 (¼ odds 1st 5)