Kevin Blake has picked out two horses worth backing, as the ITV cameras head to Ascot on Saturday.
"He showed his trademark speed that day and didn’t go down without a fight, making the winner pull out all the stops and pulling 3¾ lengths clear of the remainder."
The Shergar Cup at Ascot isn't a meeting that sets everyone alight, but whether or not one buys into the team concept, it consistently delivers a card of very competitive handicaps with manageable field sizes that make for attractive betting contests. I'll do my best to steer you into a winner, regardless of what colour silks they are wearing!
Star perfomance beckons
The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash (12:50) kicks off the card with a fiercely-competitive sprint handicap and my preference is for the Mick Appleby-trained King Of Stars. The four-year-old has really started to find his feet as a sprinter in the last year, improving from a mark of 75 up to his current mark of 92 since January.
That improvement has accelerated since he returned to turf and he ran a huge race in defeat when a neck second to the progressive Twilight Calls at Newmarket on his penultimate start. He showed his trademark speed that day and didn't go down without a fight, making the winner pull out all the stops and pulling 3¾ lengths clear of the remainder.
King Of Stars was understandably well fancied for a competitive handicap at Goodwood last week off the back of such a good effort, but the substantial rain that fell turned the ground against him and he ran below form on the rain-softened surface. That is an easy run to forgive and the promise he showed at Newmarket remains at the forefront of his profile. Returned to a sounder surface here, he looks to have a big chance, especially with it being entirely possible that he could get the lead to himself on his side of the field.
Royal can prevail
For my second selection, I will wait for the concluding Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint (15:45). This is a particularly strong handicap, but one that stands out is the Clive Cox-trained Royal Scimitar.
The son of Territories looked an exciting prospect when making a winning debut over six furlongs at Newbury last year and while he shaped well without winning since then, the seven furlong and mile trips that he has been running over have looked to be beyond his optimum.
His connections finally decided to try him back at six furlongs in a valuable handicap at Newmarket last month and he vindicated that move with a tremendously good run. Covered up behind the leaders, he came with a good-looking run in the closing stages, but it transpired that he was racing on the wrong side of the track. He sprinted away from all those that raced on his side, but three rivals were too good for him on the other side of the track.
For him to only be beaten by ½-length was a huge run and a 2lb rise for it underestimates just how well he ran. He hopefully won't have to deal with any such misfortunate this time and if not, he will take a fair bit of beating.