Posted: Monday 24th July 3.45pm
COUNT THE MONEY!
Twenty nine runners spread across Ascot’s straight seven furlongs. Solving that puzzle five days out requires some sweeping assumptions to be made.
Firstly having consulted my seaweed I am putting Saturdays going as GOOD on the straight course with Good to Soft in places on the round course.
Secondly they are all going to race down the centre. Dangerous I know but until we see the racing on Friday it would be impossible to assume otherwise.
Thirdly there will be a strong end to end gallop, sadly lacking recently in these top handicaps.
Finally the race will be won by a 4yo or a 5yo. It’s too tough for the 3yo’s and those 6yo plus have their best days behind them.
Let’s deal with the final statement first because that takes out the likes of Top Score (Won a Listed race in Meydan and well beaten in the G3 Jersey), Sutter County (Well beaten in the G3 Jersey) and Bless Him (Won the Britannia at Royal Ascot over C&D). The first two look harshly handicapped for what they’ve achieved and Bless Him raced in a small group on the far side at the Royal Meeting under a peerless Jamie Spencer but more of him later. Look at the C2 handicap form over the last two seasons of some of the older horses such as Bossy Guest (60057000), Heavens Guest (0902200000700) and even Buckstay (3594500). Yes they have course form but not since the Kaiser died!
The Victoria Cup earlier in the season over C&D was won by Fastnet Tempest who will race here off a mark ten pounds higher but having had a troubled run in the Hunt Cup he comes here as a horse in form and the booking of Josephine Gordon or stable claimer Georgia Cox (gets three pounds) would further bolster confidence. Has to be a player. Another who looks to have a big pot within him is Roger Charlton’s Makzeem who chased home Parfait in the Silver Bunbury Cup having been put up by your correspondent. Racing off his old mark he is a few pounds well in here having been put up for that last effort at Newmarket. His trainer Roger Charlton could also saddle Yuften who on his win in the Balmoral here at Ascot over a mile last October but since being gelded over the winter has been regressive this season having been well beaten in the Lincoln and the Hunt Cup.
7F is a specialist trip and I just can’t get away from the obvious here. When the Official Handicapper tells you a horse is ten pounds well in you have to take notice. When solving these big handicaps I spend hours looking for a horse that is ten pounds well in, scouring the form book, reading the quotes etc. and here is the handicapper flagging it up a week before! VISCOUNT BARFIELD is on a hat trick. He won a C2 handicap at York over this trip, weaving his way through from the back and that isn’t easy on the Knavesmire, then recently repeated the feat at Chester in the Listed City Plate Stakes with the likes of Jungle Cat (won at the weekend), Salateen, Kool Kompany and Jallota behind. The handicapper has put him up thirteen pounds, he gets a three pound penalty here, so is ten pounds well in! He’s in form, he’s a hold up horse, he’s won over the distance, he’s won on Good to Firm, Good and Good to Soft, he’s a Listed winner carrying less than 9st. That is an awful lot to like!!
Earlier I mentioned Mr Marmite, Jamie Spencer, and if he goes to Ascot on Saturday his mount has to be respected over Ascots straight course as he showed at the Royal meeting on Bless Him and Con te Partiro. Will probably be Bless Him here who showed a nice turn of foot and is off a ten pound higher mark here but could be Buckstay, although he hasn’t picked up a hoof yet this season, and I expect at least a couple of trainers may have politely enquired as to his availability!
One who may sneak in at the bottom of the weights is Havre de Paix from the resurgent yard of David Menuisier. She ran a cracker ten days ago over C&D carrying 10st in a C3 fillies handicap. With just 8st 4lb here she’ll think she is running free and she races prominently anyway!
The bet is a two star** win on Viscount Barfield with WH, Ladbrokes or Coral @ 10/1
and we’ll have another look on Thursday at final dec’s time.