There are good cards at Haydock and Ascot today but, with rain around and going uncertainties, Kempton makes most appeal this Friday evening. That said, we kick off with a strong fancy at Ascot
Afaak won his second and third career starts before sent off at 8-1 in the Britannia. Drawn 10 that day, Jim Crowley (understandably given what had happened on the straight course at Royal Ascot to that point) moved him stands side.
He saw plenty of daylight, was keen and raced on the outside of the near side pack before hitting the front and tiring. He was then sent off favourite at Newmarket but I’m not sure that track nor the quick ground, played to his strengths.
Afaak has a bit of knee action, won his most recent start on soft and looked uncomfortable and outpaced at the July course before picking up and keeping on again. The yard are flying and he can get back to winning ways again this afternoon.
5.50 Kempton: Ernststavroblofeld
Ernststavroblofeld looks a horse to benefit from the return to a mile in the Kempton opener. A six furlong winner on debut, he’s a half brother to a ten furlong winner and was well backed last time when the seven looked too sharp.
He was sent off 11-2 in a competitive handicap at the Craven meeting and I fancy he’s a better horse than he’s shown subsequently. Hopefully he cashes in at 11-2.
Mountain Hunter is looking to make it three from three and is a difficult sort to take on. That said, this is an interesting time of year for horses to return from turf campaigns to the all weather and there are a couple in here at big prices who may benefit from reverting to polytrack.
Azam has been picked up by shrewd operators and has shown his best on synthetics but, at an even bigger price, Al Hamdany is well worth a pop. He won here at the back end of last year when beating a horse now rated 18lb higher.
Al Hamdany himself runs off 10lb higher, having been beaten on five subsequent turf starts. He's by Kodiac and may not be a three-year-old to go to war with over this sort of trip but I’m happy to take 25-1 to find out on second start since being gelded.
I’ve been waiting for this horse's return to Kempton.
His course and distance record reads 138 and those last two efforts here have been off significantly higher marks over an inadequate mile and a half so, off a mark of 64, I fancy he has a better than 16-1 chance returned to this track over two miles.
Two of his last three runs have offered plenty of promise but his penultimate Hamilton run saw him slowly away again. He’s a hold up type and hopefully the two or three who usually like to help force the pace stay true to form.
Tom's tips for Friday: (Prices correct at 9.30am)
5.00 Ascot: Afaak at 7-2 generally available
9.20 Kempton: Spiritoftomintoul at 20-1 with Bet365