David Cleary has found a bet at Ascot and Pontefract on Sunday...
Elleval has more than once shown enough to suggest he can win at this level and the pick of his turf form is as good as any other's in this race...
The final day of Ascot's King George meeting has a low-key look to it, with two maiden races and four handicaps on a six-race card, the day's listed action taking place much further north, at Pontefract. Ascot is set for another scorching day, with the likelihood that ground that yesterday was, at least in Timeform's view, good on the round course and a bit firmer on the straight, will be a bit firmer still.
The best bet at Ascot could well be Retirement Plan in the mile-and-a-half handicap at 15.05. He is the least exposed runner in the line-up and a drop of 5 lb for his flop at Thirsk on his reappearance in April means that he's also the best handicapped in the race. The superbly-bred Retirement Plan had just three runs at three, improving significantly from his debut to win a maiden at Doncaster and then returning two months later to win a competitive handicap at Glorious Goodwood. Although, he ran rather in snatches in that last race, Retirement Plan was really strong in the finish, scoring by three lengths after being closely pressed a furlong out.
Retirement Plan held pattern entries at that time and indeed looked a Group horse in the making, but he wasn't seen again until his flop at Thirsk. The ground that day was much the softest he's encountered, though he again ran a bit in snatches and his absence since suggests there may have been a reason other than the ground for his poor showing. Entries in the Ebor (for which he will be a lot shorter than the general 33/1 if he wins well this afternoon) and the Irish St Leger suggest Retirement Plan could well be back on song, as does the booking of Ryan Moore, who rode him to victory at Doncaster. It's also likely that the galloping nature of the track at Ascot will show him to best advantage.
The listed Pomfret Castle over a mile at Pontefract at 16.05 looks certain to be run at a strong pace. At least five of the eight runners regularly go from the front, so the race may well be set up for one of the closers. That could be Artigiano, who was good enough to finish second in the Royal Lodge at two, but he may have to play second fiddle to Elleval. Elleval has more than once shown enough to suggest he can win at this level and the pick of his turf form is as good as any other's in this race. Elleval showed even better form on tapeta over the winter in Dubai, and although he wouldn't be sure to run to that level back on turf, today's race will give him a much better chance to do so than the Group 3 in which he made his return in Ireland last time.
Back Retirement Plan @ 5.59/2 in the 15.05 at Ascot
Back Elleval @ 4.216/5 in the 16.05 at Pontefract