On a typically-competitive Ascot card, Timeform's Tony McFadden attempts to land the Placepot...
This step up to two miles obviously represents a step into the unknown for Leading Light but he looks like a tough, progressive type and it would be surprising were he not still pitching at the end...
14:30- We could know our fate extremely early as, attempting to save lines to tackle the fearsome handicaps later on the card, we opt to bank on Sandiva in the twenty-runner Albany Stakes. Richard Fahey's filly has created a fantastic impression on both racecourse outings, improving on a six-length debut success to stylishly land a listed contest at Naas, and she looks like a solid proposition in the opener. The bare form she achieved in Ireland would be good enough to win an average renewal of the Albany Stakes and, with the potential of more to come, it would be surprising were she not involved in the finish.
15:05- Battle of Marengo is the first horse that we will include as he is reliable and rates as the clear form pick. He has probably reached the limit of his potential, though, and it is by no means an insurmountable standard that he sets, so we cannot risk banking on the Derby fourth. Hillstar has attracted money on both starts this term and, although he is yet to justify his lofty reputation, he has shaped with obvious promise in defeat. He takes a large step up in class here but he has looked like a potential pattern-level performer and the step up to one and a half miles could conjure some improvement.
15:45- Just The Judge and Sky Lantern are the standard bearers in the Coronation Stakes but they have been handed extremely difficult draws, breaking from stall 17 and 16 respectively, and it could be worth taking on the market leaders. Big Break is the obvious alternative having shaped with real promise from a less-than-favourable draw on her return in the Irish 1000 Guineas and there was plenty to like about the way she travelled on that occasion. Hopefully Pat Smullen will be able to capitalise on Big Break's draw in stall 1 by bagging a prominent early position, and Dermot Weld's filly should be on the premises. Pavlosk has a bit to find on the figures but she has created a good impression in her burgeoning career and, in a race where early track position could prove critical, she can rely on the services of Ryan Moore.
16:25- A competitive handicap and it could be worth taking on the market leaders in the hope of a Placepot-busting result. Chapter Seven was well out of his depth in the Coronation Cup last time but, prior to that, he had produced some creditable handicap efforts and, back at a more realistic level, he has strong claims over a trip which may suit. Fattsota did well last term, winning a pair of one-and a-half mile handicaps here, and he shaped with promise at Epsom last time, not beaten far in fifth despite appearing ill at ease on the track. He should be capable of going close. We will add a third string to our bow with Dick Doughtywylie, a lightly-raced five-year-old that has shown improved form this year, running well behind Al Kazeem on his return.
17:00-Leading Light isn't bred to get the trip but, in contrast to his pedigree, he shapes as if he is a thorough stayer, looking very strong at the end of his races over ten furlongs. This step up to two miles obviously represents a step into the unknown but he looks to be a tough, progressive type and it would be surprising were he not still pitching at the end. We will bank on Aidan O'Brien's three-year-old finishing in the first three.
17:35- The Buckingham Palace Stakes often isn't as competitive as the numbers suggest but we will still need to include at least three to give ourselves a chance. Loving Spirit would probably prefer the ground slightly softer - though he is effective on a sound surface - but he has good course form and that is something that counts for plenty on the Ascot straight track. He travelled like the best horse in the Victoria Cup but simply found trouble in running and he looks sure to give a good account. Nassau Storm and Emilio Largo both ran creditably in a highly-competitive six-furlong handicap at this course last month and could benefit from stepping back up to seven furlongs. They are both relatively unexposed and could yet have more to offer.
15:05- 1, 6
15:45- 2, 10
16:25- 7, 9, 14
17:35- 6, 15, 24
= 36 lines
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