Ascot Saturday

1:30 Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% Handicap 1m 3f 211y

First thing to note at Ascot and Lingfield on Saturday is the rapidly drying ground at both venues. Both are talking of good to soft ground in advance reports but I would expect the high temperatures and unbroken sunshine to see conditions much quicker by race time.

Youthful King didn’t get the race run to suit at Newmarket last week and had caught the eye when finishing well for fourth in the Rosebery Handicap at Kempton on his penultimate start. He used to be a free-going front runner but has improved of late for much more patient tactics which have helped him settle better.

The Rosebery wasn’t run at an end-to-end gallop and his effort there can be marked up. He’s equally effective on fast turf, winning twice over an extended mile and three furlongs at Windsor last term and although this trip on a stiff track is as far as he wants to go, he was placed over course and distance last summer and is handicapped to go close if ridden cold. In that respect, I see the booking of Charles Bishop as a positive.

Obsidian Knight has yet to win on turf but ran to form on quick ground at Newbury over this trip last June and comes here off the back of a win at Chelmsford last time out. That win came off a lengthy break and he tends to come forward for a run, so there’s hope he’ll do even better again today.

He was better than the bare margin of victory at Chelmsford, where he was rather too fresh for his own good, and the handicapper has raised him just 1lb for that. Terry Kent’s gelding is drawn in stall 14 but that is never a negative over this trip and he’s suggested as a danger at what should be rewarding odds.

2:05 Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% British EBF Fillies’ Handicap 1m

Mother Mary was behind Rose Prick in the Listed Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes at Kempton a few weeks ago, but the latter had the run of things on the front end whereas Mother Mary was restrained at the start and struggled to get involved off a dawdling gallop.

I would fancy her to turn the tables at the same weights granted a stronger gallop, so she makes plenty of appeal meeting that rival on 10lb better terms back in a handicap.

Mother Mary remains lightly raced and showed she stays a mile well when third to Global Spirit and Mexicali Rose at Pontefract in September. The runner-up was getting 4lb from Mother Mary in that contest, beating her by a length and three-quarters, and that filly was placed in the Listed Victor McCalmont Memorial at Gowran on Wednesday, giving more substance to that form.

Mother Mary can run off the same mark here and she has a progressive look about her, so is expected to defy her mark if getting a little luck in the run.

2:40 Lavazza & Ascot 10 Year Anniversary Victoria Cup 7f

My thinking in the Victoria Cup is that the pace looks likely to come from the middle-drawn runners, and I’m looking for a hold-up horse drawn mid to high who can track that pace into the contest. The horse who fits that bill best is Pearle D’Or who ticks that box and who caught the eye under a tender Jamie Spencer ride at Newmarket on his return to action. On the same mark as when a close third in the Howden Challenge Cup over this course and distance last October, where he was the first home on the unfavoured far side group, he looks just the sort that David O’Meara will improve again as a five-year-old.

His Newmarket comeback will have served its purpose to grease the gears for this, emphasised by the point that he was missing his usual headgear at racing’s headquarters.

Refitted with a hood now, he looks poised to strike and seven furlongs on a sound surface looks ideal for him, so he can have no excuses.

Hickory ran very well on his reappearance at Kempton when second to Zero Carbon, and he would have been high on my shortlist with a higher draw, but stall six might make life tricky. In saying that, with pace more centre than stands’ side, Saffie Osborne has a chance to track the leaders up the middle, and it would be no surprise to see the combination go well again at this track.

Lingfield Saturday

1:50 William Hill Epic Value Handicap 1m 3f 133y

Aimeric is an obvious starting point in this handicap, having won first time up last year before running well in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot, and finishing the season off with another ready win at Beverley, where he did well to overcome a pace bias to win with something to spare.

He looks the type to do better again this year and is probably the one to beat, although there are others who are unexposed in the conditions and it isn’t a race to go overboard on as a result.

2:25 William Hill Oaks Trial Fillies’ Stakes (Listed) 1m 3f 133y

I can’t say I’m particularly enamoured with either of the Epsom trials and they are better races to watch than to bet in as a rule – at least for me. For what it’s worth, I would be a little concerned about how well Danielle would handle this track on what is likely to be quick ground (assuming no sneaky watering) having won well on soft at Wetherby.

The form of her previous defeat by Winter Snowfall took a knock when that filly was well beaten in the Pretty Polly on Sunday.

I’m edging towards You Got To Me who ran well despite inexperience when fifth to Regal Jubilee in the Listed Montrose Fillies’ Stakes at Newmarket in November. She appears held by Molten Rock on that run, but I fancy her to improve markedly from two to three, and Ralph Beckett has a remarkable strike-rate over this course and distance, with 10 wins from 41 runners over course and distance in his career, showing a profit of £389.90 at SP to a tenner stake.

3:00 William Hill Lingfield Derby Trial Stakes (Listed) 1m 3f 133y

Defiance is the pick in the Derby Trial having shaped well at Epsom on his return. A winner on his Sandown debut last summer for trainer Roger Varian, the Camelot colt made a more than satisfactory start to his campaign when finishing strongly from off the pace to finish a close second to Bellum Justum in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom and that effort shows he handles an undulating track and fast turf, which he will get again here.

3:35 William Hill Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes (Group 3) 7f

The standout formline in this race comes from the lightly-raced Great Generation who finished three lengths fourth to Romantic Style, Ramatuelle and Tamfana in the Prix Imprudence at Deauville last time.

Given the consensus is that any one of the three who beat her can be regarded as moral winners of the 1000 Guineas, that must go down as an excellent effort from Great Generation; she is taken to get the better of likely favourite Remarquee, who had form in excellent company last term, but returns from a lengthy break and isn’t so well drawn as the selection.


Youthful King 1:30 Ascot – 1pt e/w @ 12/1 (Bet365, 4 places; 11/1 general)

Mother Mary 2:05 Ascot – 2pts win @ 5/1 (general)

Pearle D’Or 2:40 Ascot – 1.5pts e/w @ 15/2 (general – 6 places)

Rory’s recommended last week included:

Chairmanoftheboard e/w 11/1 (third)

Porta Forunta e/w 14/1 (third)

Stay Alert 6/1 (win)