By Tom Stanley
I have three tips running at Ascot on Friday plus another over the jumps at Fontwell. Two of my Ascot fancies were beaten favourites last time who hung badly at Goodwood. That is merely coincidence - not the start of some 'mark-up from Goodwood disappointment' strategy!
Two proper cliff horses of mine run in the Ascot opener in the form of Fox Trotter (no I was not on for his belated win at Sandown) and Moonraker.
The former is back in trip and may just want even more of a test here than he’s likely to get but I’m quite sweet on the chances of Mick Channon’s horse up at seven furlongs for the first time.
It has been a long time coming too and, given the way he’s seen out his last couple of runs, it may be just what he needs. He can be keen, so that is a niggle up in trip, but his last win came here and he’s 17lb lower for this afternoon’s run from a draw that gives him options.
I was at Newmarket running around the paddock for interviews when this horse ran third to Ekhtiyaar and admit I missed just how impressive he was initially.
He had to wait for a run on that day after having to switch to the rear of the far side group, then flew home and a 3lb pull with the winner should help him go close to reversing the form.
That said, I was mighty impressed with Ekhtiyaar and he will be tough to beat, but that is reflected in his price. The key to siding with Ultimate Avenue now is his abysmal run last time, abysmal on the face of it at least.
Keen early, he was hanging throughout the last few furlongs and Jamie Spencer was given little chance. Whether it was the track or something else that day, his performance is factored into his price - too big based upon his Newmarket run, and I expect this track to suit him far better.
No rain over the last few days at Ascot should ensure the ground is no worse than good to soft and he has the right man in the saddle on this straight track.
I’m a big fan of this horse but it’s fair to say he didn’t go on and achieve what it looked like he may after winning at Ascot last season.
That was over three miles, having won over this course and distance at this meeting 12 months ago. He’s been eased a couple of pounds since disappointing at Newbury and Sandown and is back at a track where he shows his best.
It may be coincidence he’s only won right-handed but that could offer an explanation for his Newbury effort and three miles at Sandown on soft ground (for all he has won there) seemed too much when last seen. We know he can go fresh and, with a couple of bits of pace on, he should have this run to suit back in trip.
Tribute Act was a disappointment when trailing home last of 13 at Goodwood last time when hanging left and her trainer suggested she didn’t handle the track.
She was keen early too and I’d prefer if there was more guaranteed pace on, particularly back at seven furlongs. I think she’s a very talented filly, though, and still ahead of her mark after a 5lb rise for her defeat of subsequent scorer Shenanigans at Doncaster.
That was over a mile, too, where they didn’t go quick but the way she quickened that day gives me confidence she’ll be fine back in trip. She has an excellent claimer in the saddle too in the form of George Wood.
Tom's top tips for Friday: (prices correct 9.45am)
2.00 Ascot: Moonraker at a general 14-1