While a lot of the racing attention will be on America on Saturday, before the big race runs stateside there is plenty more good action to be had in the UK and Ireland as we continue the build-up to The Derby and Royal Ascot.
Ascot actually hosts a very good card on Saturday and we have picked out a couple of bets from there, including one in the feature race, while we are not ignoring the meetings in Ireland either as we have one from Naas.
We kick off with a field of 17 for a Class 3 handicap over a mile and a half where David Menusier saddles the favourite in Flyin’ Solo. Ridden by Rossa Ryan, he landed a pair of Class 4 handicaps this time last year off around 10lbs lower & has run creditably since off his revised mark without troubling the judge. This is his first start of the year & I’d be worried that he may just need this. HMS President absolutely needed his reappearance when 9th in the Queens Cup at Musselburgh but better was expected given he started at 9/1. Screaming Petrus is difficult to weigh up as this is just his 4th career start & his first on turf. He’s the one I’m most worried about but it’s hard to be confident how he’ll go in his first career handicap.
Juan De Montalban is my fancy for this. He started last season well winning a Class 3 handicap off a mark of 84 before improving again to finish runner up in the Group 2 Italian Derby. After that, he wasn’t as good but ran in a Group 3 where he was outclassed & then again in a Listed event behind the top class trio of Maydanny, Euchen Glen & Juan Elcano. He’s moved yards over the winter & looked to be right back to his best at Thirsk where he delivered a dangerous looking challenge 2 furlongs from home & was bang there a furlong out before failing to quicken inside the last although he did stay on well to grab 4th. Watching the race back, it felt as though he’d come on massively for the run so a further easing in mark, now down to 90, looks generous. It’s probably notable that he’s recorded RPRs in excess of today’s mark on 5 of his 6 starts so I’d be surprised if there isn’t more to come from him as a 4 year old. 4 of the last 5 winners were 4 year olds & each of the past 5 winners have been rated at least 89; based on that alone, he’s the only one in the field to fit the criteria & that just adds weight to what is already a confident bet.
Back Juan De Montalban (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 9.00 William Hill BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
Back it here:
Open up a BetVictor account during the flat season and bet £5 on any race to get £30 in bonuses! Click the image below to take advantage of this fantastic offer! 18+ T&Cs apply Gamble Aware.
The big race of the day at Ascot is the 7 furlong Victoria Cup handicap with a massive field of 28 going to post. The draw could play a part and high is usually the place to be but it’s also worth looking at where the pace is drawn. There’s likely to be a strong pace & the most likely pacesetters are drawn mid to high. Fresh is the favourite off the back of his neck 2nd in the Wokingham last summer but I feel he may need a bit of rain to show his best whilst I think he’s a better horse over a furlong shorter. Dark Shift is lightly raced, will easily see out the trip and has a 3 from 4 record at the track but may just be drawn out of it & it is his first start of the year. He could be much better than his mark though so it’s possible he could overcome the negatives & at a double figure price, he’s got a solid chance. One Ruler is an interesting one as he finished 2nd in the Group 1 Futurity as a 2 year old & then ran midfield in both the 2000 Guineas and the Derby. He’s a Group horse in a handicap and could easily blitz these but he has a monster mark & may get run off his feet at this trip. Chiefofchiefs can never be ignored at Ascot whilst Popmaster is a danger to all if getting the extra distance.
At a massive price & with extra places being paid, I cannot let Gioia Cieca go unbacked. He’s still relatively lightly raced and is a 4 year old that I feel has a big prize in him. In 5 handicaps over this trip, his record reads 12494, with his win when finishing just ahead of another of today’s rivals Tadreeb. The selection has a 6lb pull in the weights too so should be able to comfortably confirm placings. He then gave 1lb to recent Spring Cup winner Modern News & went down by three-quarters of a length. Given the selection is racing off 96 today & Modern News is rated 107, that form has a very solid look to it. He needed his reappearance & didn’t like the cut in the ground but improved lots when just over a length 4th at Haydock 2 weeks ago off this mark. He was strong at the line that day & he will get another furlong so a straight 7 at a stiff track like Ascot could be right up his street. His trainer has an almost 25% strike rate in the last 14 days & sends just one runner down south from his Scottish base whilst it is also Callum Rodriguez’s only ride of the day. It’s a tough puzzle to solve but he seems unexposed & I’d be hopeful that, from a good draw in 18, he runs much better than odds would suggest.
Back Gioia Cieca (e/w) for a 0.75/10 stake at 29.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-8)
A 6 furlong Premier handicap for 3 year olds closes the card at Naas & this looks a hot contest. There are 6 last time out winners including the favourite Band Width who won a maiden at Sligo a week ago. He’s capable of following up but 4/1 isn’t much of a price for one with just one piece of form to recommend. Drombeg Banner has won twice over the minimum but has disappointed in 2 starts at this trip so is best ignored. Ano Syra is on a hat trick but has a 7lb rise in mark to overcome whilst Magniffico should go well back up in trip for the Murtagh yard that has started the season well.
I couldn’t quite believe that Ger Lyons has just the 1 runner on the day so that was almost a tip in itself when deciding to side with Neo Soul. He’s won just 1 of his 6 career starts & that was the only times he’s raced on the all-weather at Dundalk but he shown plenty of promise on turf finishing 2nd on his last 3 starts on turf. All of those runs have been over five or five and a half furlongs & he’s been noted keeping on well so this step back up in trip will surely suit. In fact, he’s only been over this trip once & that was when winning at Dundalk. Admittedly he scrambled home by a head but the pair pulled 12 lengths clear of the 3rd horse home. He ran a really good race on reappearance when only just failing to get the battle of his stablemate and it’s reasonable to expect he’ll come on a fair bit for that run. He has a nice middle draw, his mark of 83 should be within his range & the blinkers which were on for the only time when winning his only race are reapplied today. Beyond the front 4 or 5 in the market, this looks a very average & winnable contest so with the extra places on offer, he looks a cracking each way shout.
Back Neo Soul (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 8.50 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)