2.00 LEO BANCROFT SIGNATURE HAIRCARE HANDICAP – 1 M 4 F
KING Calypso made an excellent seasonal return at Windsor a few weeks ago when only just touched off by Carthage and the heavily supported Arc Lighter.
He sneaks in to this race at the foot of the handicap - Cam Hardie has once again been engaged to ride. The young jockey is able to claim three pounds from his mount and if in the same mood they have to be high on any shortlist. He is clearly a useful performer whether it be on the polytrack or on the turf and despite this slight rise in grade he fully deserves a place in this line-up.
Forgotten Hero made a decent enough seasonal reappearance when fourth to Collaboration at Epsom last month. The form was franked by the winner coming out and scoring again so it was clearly a good effort on a track that may not have suited. Now at peak fitness, he can be seen to much better effect and is likely to prove the biggest threat to the selection.
Grumeti won this race a couple of seasons ago and while he should be fit from his winter campaign, he may be done for speed by younger and improving rivals. Penhill makes his first career start for Luca Cumani since leaving the yard of James Bethell. The yard are in excellent form, but he is probably best watched this afternoon following his winter break as he will no doubt come on for this outing. King Calypso is still only a four year old and with consistency being his main attribute, he can go close this afternoon.
3.10 GARRARD FILLIES’ HANDICAP – 1 MILE
Solar Magic went extremely well on her two visits to Ascot last season including when winning over this course and distance back in July.
She made a good seasonal reappearance at Kempton when runner up to the progressive Lady Dutch and she will have benefitted for that experience. This represents a slight drop in grade for the well-bred four year old and she looks likely to make a bold effort under Robert Havlin. Her trainer John Gosden has his string in excellent shape at present and this progressive and lightly raced Cheveley Park Stud owned filly should be capable of much better in time.
Amazing Maria was a total flop on her three runs last season. She has subsequently joined the David O’Meara team and now looks dangerously well handicapped on the best of her juvenile form which saw her record two decent wins at Goodwood.
Her new trainer has a reputation of getting the best out of their new acquisitions and she could well prove a big threat here. Azagal made the most of a free falling handicap mark at Nottingham when winning for Tim Easterby and Fergal Lynch.
That was her first run in six months and it was only against three rivals including the re-opposing Isabella Bird. She should be able to confirm that form with Richard Hughes in the saddle. Simply Shining has come back in better shape than ever this season but she was all out to win a much lower graded affair at Thirsk last time and this may prove a step too far. Solar Magic remains far from exposed and should be capable of making her presence fully felt.
3.45 TOTESCOOP6 VICTORIA CUP (HERITAGE HANDICAP) – 7 FURLONGS
Heaven’s Guest came on in no uncertain terms from his seasonal reappearance when winning a three runner race at Thirsk last time out.
He saw of the challenge of Balty Boys quite readily on that occasion and the runner up subsequently decimated a valuable handicap at Haydock, so the form does look strong. The selection has plenty of experience at this track including a previous win over the course and distance and stall 22 could prove to be advantageous in this annual cavalry charge. Richard Fahey is enjoying a purple patch at present and he has called upon the services of Jack Garrity, who looks to be one of the apprentice finds of the year.
Buckstay was well fancied by many to go close at Newbury last time and he ultimately proved disappointing. Things may just not have went that way on that occasion and granted much better luck in running he looks destined to at least have a say in the placings here.
Tom Marquand takes seven pounds off his back and they command respect. Shared Equity ran a solid race at Doncaster on his seasonal bow and should have more to offer with Joe Doyle on board. They too look ideally positioned in stall 26 and are worthy of a second look. Dream Spirit may need this run as it is his first run of the season, whilst Outback Traveller may well be marooned out in the middle of the track. Heaven’s Guest has plenty of experience in these big field handicaps and that experience can see him challenge for this valuable prize for a very much in form yard.
Ascot 2.00 King Calypso
Ascot 3.10 Solar Magic
Ascot 3.45 Heaven’s Guest