13:51 Ascot

Leg 1 Selections: Ainsdale, Korker 

It’s been nearly two years since AINSDALE last got his head in front but he’s ran well in both starts for this yard this year, firstly when fourth in a Group Three at Newcastle before filling the same spot in the Beverley Bullet when last spotted. 

He’s ran well on both previous visits to this course, including when midfield in the Champions Sprint Stakes and the return to this venue over this minimum should be right up his street. He’s closely matched with a few of these but if his new handler has eked out a bit more improvement, he could win this. 

KORKER has often cost himself any sort of chance with habitual slow starts but, despite this, he has maintained a high level of form and ran another fine race when second last time. I know he’s back up in grade here but he has form at this course and the stiff finish will play to his strengths. 

14:25 Ascot

Leg 2 Selections: Hamish

HAMISH is lightly-raced in recent years but he’s genuinely a class horse when he’s at his best and has taken his form to a new level in two starts this year. He won the Ormonde at Chester in May before an excellent three parts of a length second to the red-hot favourite Kyprios in the Irish St Leger. 

That form is undeniably the best on offer as the pair pulled clear of two-time winner of the race Search For A Song and that was just his second start of the year, so he’s bound to improve again here. He will have no trouble coping with the drop in trip, as he travels well, and is dropped significantly in grade for this task. He is the one to beat and the rightful favourite. 

15:00 Ascot

Leg 3 Selections: Ehraz, Flaming Rib 

EHRAZ won over course-and-distance last year and was unlucky not to collect a Listed event at Newbury in May, where he came from miles off the pace to be touched off by a whisker. He was last seen running well to finish sixth of 20 in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup from a bad draw and while he had a few niggly issues afterwards, he’s reported to be in top shape. In what is in an open race, he is appealing at double-figure digits. 

FLAMING RIB has been rock-solid throughout his career and produced a career-best performance over track and trip when runner-up in the Commonwealth Cup. Hugo Palmer’s sprinter ran another good race when fourth to Minzaal in the Sprint Cup last time and is ground-versatile, given he’s won under most conditions, so he won’t mind a touch of rain either. He ticks a lot of boxes for this race, so he’s a huge player down in grade with Rossa Ryan booked to ride. 

15:36 Ascot

Leg 4 Selections: Blue For You, Rhoscolyn

David O’Meara has a strong team of runners for this race but it’s two of his five runners who standout for me. BLUE FOR YOU finished runner-up in his first three starts before overcoming traffic problems to beat a good field at York last time. He’s been raised six pounds for that narrow victory but he’s going from strength-to-strength, travels strongly, and should handle the return in distance. Jason Watson does well for this stable and he’s been booked to ride, so while this race demands more from this higher mark, he has solid claims. 

His stablemate RHOSCOLYN hasn’t won for a while but he’s been a regular in red-hot handicaps and posted an excellent third of 22 in the Buckingham over course-and-distance off a mark of 103. He returns here off a pound lower and that’s without taking his rider's five pound claim into consideration. He has been solid in defeat since that effort at this course, including when making the frame the last twice and, with lots going for him, including a nice draw in stall 14, he’s got an outstanding chance at nice odds. 

16:10 Ascot

Leg 5 Selections: Kaif, Honey Sweet

KAIF ran a very decent race when third on debut and then comfortably opened her account at Redcar ten days ago, where she cruised to victory without her rider being required to use the whip at any stage. That wasn’t much of a race and this is a huge step up in grade but it is interesting to see her shrewd handler take aim at this race with her, which indicates that he thinks a lot of this filly and that she’s capable of running a big race. With more to come, she could surprise a few at large odds. 

The Karl Burke-trained HONEY SWEET is a really solid filly and the fact that connections bypassed the Ayr Gold Cup for this race makes her of interest. She ran another good race when fifth in a Group Three last time and her second at Carlisle earlier in the season is a good piece of form. She likes a bit of cut in the ground and has a fair each-way chance here. 

16:45 Ascot

Leg 6 Selections: Significantly 

SIGNIFICANTLY has recorded two wins over this course-and-distance and while his record this year has been patchy, Karl Burke’s charge wasn’t beaten far off his reduced mark at Doncaster last time, shaping with a lot more encouragement than previous efforts. He now finds himself a couple of pounds lower than when gaining the second of his two course-and-distance wins and handles all ground too. He is drawn well in stall eleven and has a big chance in the finale.