It's the final day of Royal Ascot 2016 and Andy Holding plans to end the meeting in style!
Although ASTRONEREUS (best price 20-1)
has earned his stripes in some hard-knocking handicaps, Amanda Perrett’s charge proved he’s very much up to the requirements of pattern company when landing a Group 3 on his seasonal reappearance Newbury and he rates a decent value bet to run a solid race at a track where his stats read 243. Third in the ultra-competitive Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at the Royal meeting last season, the son of Sea The Stars got his just rewards for a series of fine placed efforts with a deserved success at York next time and that was followed up by another praiseworthy performance in a similarly tough handicap at Glorious Goodwood. Although he was the outsider of five at the Berkshire venue last time out, there didn’t appear to be any fluke about his victory over some higher rated and sexier rivals and it makes no sense whatsoever why he should be three times the price of Eagle Top, who he beat fair and square 35 days ago.
Another graduate from the handicaps ranks with a better chance than the market suggests is MOUNT LOGAN (best price 22-1)
, and he also is worth a small each-way interest at his early quotes. Although Roger Varian’s inmate has a bit to find with Exosphere on their clash at Sandown last season, he looks to have improved nicely from four to five based on his seasonal reappearance success at Goodwood and having run well despite not getting the clearest of runs in the Wolferton handicap here last year, there’s a fair chance he may improve upon his fourth place finish that day in a race that should be run to suit.
ASTRONEREUS - 1pt e/w @ 20/1Lost -2pt
MOUNT LOGAN - 1pt e/w @ 22/1Lost -2pt
Magical Memory has set this division alight so far this season and there’s no doubt he’s a worthy favourite on form, but if there is to be a fly in the ointment, THE TIN MAN (best price 7-2)
could turn out to be the party pooper. Progressive through the handicap ranks last season, James Fanshawe’s inmate was wildly impressive on his first visit to today’s C&D towards the backend of the campaign and that performance prompted connections to have a tilt at the big Group 1 6f sprint contest of Champions Day. Although the son of Equiano couldn’t quite cope with the likes of Muhaarar and Twilight Son on the day, he gave out enough signals to suggest with more time he could make up into a Group 1 horse and following an ultra-smooth success on his seasonal reappearance in which he recorded a very fast time, the lightly-raced four-year-old has all the qualities to make a big impact in this race.
THE TIN MAN - 1pt e/w @ 7/2Lost -2pt
The combination of a touch of class and ability to see out a strongly run six furlongs (form over seven also very handy) is often the key component to victory in this top-quality sprint handicap and BURNT SUGAR (best price 33-1)
, winner of a Group 3 and THE HAPPY PRINCE (best price 16-1)
, placed on numerous occasions in pattern company, make most appeal at the prices. The case for former’s claims are fairly easy to argue as he has run several solid races in big-field handicaps, and with one of those efforts coming over today’s course over seven furlongs towards the backend of last season, he has just the kind of profile associated with this sort of contest. That cracking performance behind Heaven’s Guest at the Berkshire venue was superseded by his excellent runner-up spot in a similarly competitive event back over six furlong at the Newmarket a month later and although he was slightly disappointing when well down the field at Ascot on his final outing last season, he was stuck out wide on a day when the stands side fence was a huge advantage. The son of Lope De Vega warmed up nicely for a tilt at this prize when a not knocked about, never-nearer sixth in the listed Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury on his first run for 281 days and with that outing sure to have put an edge on the four-year-old’s fitness, odds of 33-1 look massive considering all the positives in his favour.
The latter has pretty much dined at the top table In some of the best sprint races run on home soil and although he’s yet to win one of them, Aidan O’Brien’s charge has been on the fringes of the action more often than not. In the money behind the likes of Anthem Alexander, Sovereign Debt and Fort Del Oro, the son of Rip Van Winkle has clearly been under the cosh for the thick end of a year and having run another solid race over seven furlongs under a big weight at Naas last time out, he has enough qualities to run a big race and put a smile back on Ryan Moore’s face – possibly.
Burnt Sugar - 1pt e/w @ 33/1Placed 7.25pt
THE HAPPY PRINCE - 1pt e/w @ 16/1Lost -2pt
It goes without saying the Mark Johnston team hasn’t had the best of meetings, but there’s a decent chance the week could end on a happy not in the shape of ORIENTAL FOX (best price 5-1)
who bids to follow up victory in this corresponding race last year. A wide margin success twelve months ago supplemented many previous solid performances around today’s track and following an eye-catching prep over a trip way short of his best, the son of Lomitas should be at fever pitch in his bid to retain his title.
ORIENTAL FOX - 1pt e/w @ 5/1Placed 0.25pt
GUNMETAL (best price 4-1)
clocked a very smart speed figure when breaking his duck at Salisbury last time and he is taken to make a winning start to handicap life off what a fairly reasonable mark of 83. Prior to that breakthrough success, Charlie Hills’ charge has pushed Smuggler’s Moon all the way in a decent maiden at Newbury and with that horse going on to land a listed race at Epsom next time out to earn a new rating of 106, the son of Clodovil has a great chance of taking advantage of what looks a golden opportunity.
GUNMETAL - 1pt e/w @ 4/1Won 4.8pt