Sam Turner previews Saturday's live Channel 4 races from Ascot and Haydock.
If Vroum Vroum Mag doesn't see out the trip then AURORE D’ESTRUVAL looks a major threat following an encouraging return at Cheltenham behind Camping Ground. That was a promising effort and she should be on the scene again, along with course winner DESERT QUEEN, who is officially rated just 1lb inferior to the favourite.
With Harry Fry’s hurdlers enjoying a strike rate of nine wins from 15 starts in the past five seasons at the Berkshire track, ZULU OSCAR could also give a bold sight from the front. He produced a good figure to score at Kempton last time and is unbeaten on his last four completed starts.
Sugar Baron’s owner celebrates his birthday today so this race has been the plan for some time. He is of interest at a price along with Monsieur Gibraltar who is reportedly thriving at home.
Sire De Grugy and Vibrato Valtat arguably provide a stiffer test than he has faced for a while, but I’m not convinced either are on a par with Un De Sceaux granted a clear round.
The selection hammered Mala Beach by 11l here last time and the latter has since run a blinder in the Thyestes Chase to give the form a very solid appearance. Surprisingly, the assessor felt it was only with a 4lb increase and, although consistency has rarely been a word use to describe Royal Regatta, he can take advantage of that leniency today.
It has been a similar story for Vieux Lille at Exeter so perhaps one of Bigmartre and ITS’AFREEBEE, both of which have valuable course experience, could spring a mini surprise. The latter clocked a terrific time when scoring here last time and it was encouraging to see the Dan Skelton horses run well at Market Rasen yesterday.
The admirable Melodic Rendezvous looks the chief danger, but he was beaten in handicap company at Sandown last time and it will be surprising if he can beat The New One.
However, the likes of VIRAK, two from two at the track, and SEVENTH SKY could be worth chancing at bigger prices. The former loves today’s venue and was only a length in arrears of Wakanda at Ascot (Fingal Bay 3rd), while Seventh Sky wasn’t disgraced behind Village Vic at Cheltenham and is probably better judged on his seven-length demolition of Spookydooky over course and distance two starts ago.
The trip is a concern for Third Intention, but he has faced some tough tasks this term and could be overpriced.