John Deer and Roger Charlton set Makzeem Ascot Challenge

Fri 6 Oct 2017

Makzeem bids to win for the second successive Saturday when he attempts to defy a 6lb penalty in the totoescoop6 Challenge Cup at Ascot.

The Roger Charlton-trained gelding demonstrated his well-being when returning from a two-month break with a convincing victory at Newmarket last weekend.

The four-year-old is closely related to multiple Group One scorer Al Kazeem and his owner-breeder John Deer believes the son of Makfi can prove himself better than a handicapper.

"He obviously only ran a week ago, but the trainer was keen to run him again and I was happy to go along with it," Deer said.

"It was his first run for a while at Newmarket, so you'd like to think he'll improve and he's well in at the weights.

"He's a horse who has got better as he's got older and I'd hope he'll improve again from four to five.

"I think he could be a Group horse next year. At what level, I'm not sure, but I'd like to think he could win a Group Three."

Karl Burke is looking for a prominent showing from Mjjack, who has taken the runner-up spot in two big handicaps over this course and distance.

"He's in great form. He obviously likes the track at Ascot and he loves soft ground," said the Leyburn handler.

"We could do with it being a bit softer, really, but we're very hopeful he'll run a big race."

Mjjack finished two places ahead of Raising Sand at Ascot last time, with the pair set to renew rivalry.

Jamie Osborne's five-year-old, owned by Nick Bradley Racing, is the last horse to make the cut in the £180,000 heritage handicap.

Bradley said: "He's scraped in at the bottom of the weights. We didn't know if we'd get a run here or wait for the Balmoral.

"Ascot is a track he likes. He's a big-moving horse and a straight track is perfect for him.

"Last time out he missed the break by a couple of lengths and I don't think they went that hard a pace.

"He did plenty wrong but still ran a good race. He'll be there or thereabouts, I would think."

Burnt Sugar scooped a large pot at Leopardstown last month and his trainer Roger Fell is eyeing another windfall.

Fell said: "He's gone up in the handicap again but he's come out of the race so well I think he's still improving.

Longines Irish Champions Weekend - Day One - Leopardstown Racecourse Burnt Sugar ran his best race for two years when successful in Ireland last time (PA)

"He's in really good form and is right back to his very best.

"He should go well again."

Accidental Agent has been progressing all season and his trainer Eve Johnson Houghton is optimistic following his second place in a Listed race at Newbury last time.

"He's in good form. He's been stepping up every run this year and we think he'll go close," said the Blewbury handler.

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