14:30 Ascot - Cordero
Toscanini and last week's Navan winner Dick Whittington set the form standard in here and both have obvious claims but, as with all juvenile races here this week, finding dangers isn't a hard task. I ride Wesley Ward's newcomer Cordero, so it was encouraging to see one of his run away with the Windsor Castle on Tuesday, though a couple have disappointed since.
I don't know too much about him at the moment but I hear that he has been settling in and going quite well since arriving from the States, and he is certainly the part on paper, being a Giant's Causeway half-brother to a Breeders Cup Juvenile winner in Halfbridled. I wouldn't worry about the fact that he wears a tongue tie and blinkers first time up; there is no stigma in wearing headgear in the States.
15:05 Ascot - Arab Spring
This horse has excited me since I first sat on him and his progress this season hasn't surprised me at all. In fact, I was a little bit disappointed that he only won narrowly at York last time. Even though the form of that race is ok - the runner-up finished a good second at Newmarket next time - I don't think you saw him at his best that day. But, as the boss said after the race, he is a still a big baby and learning all the time.
On the face of it, an 8lb rise for that 1/2 length victory at York looks harsh - and it is, on the bare form - but I still think that a mark of 104 underestimates his potential, and he is one of my better chances of the week. Really fast ground would be a worry, though, and I suppose the only other negative could be that he is an inexperienced horse and these handicaps are often rough races. But I can see him developing into a proper Group horse in time.
15:45 Ascot - Telescope
It is time for the real Telescope to stand up and be counted, and I think that he just might on this faster ground. Don't get me wrong, the likes of Hillstar, Sharetan and Ektihaam are proven Group 2 horses and Telescope comes here with something to prove after two decent, if unspectacular, efforts behind Noble Mission this season. But those runs came on soft ground, and I think you will see a better horse on this better ground.
He actually doesn't have too much to find on form as it stands - Noble Mission went on to win his Group 1 at the Curragh next time and is clearly much-improved - and his work leading up to this gives me plenty of hope that he can go close to winning this. But it wasn't a straightforward choice between him and Hillstar, and I think both have leading chances, and hopefully the stable will have a 1-2.
16:25 Ascot - Due Diligence
I think Slade Power and Aljamaaheer could be the two to beat in here - the latter goes well at the track, though it is a little bit surprising to see him fitted with blinkers - but I have chances on Due Diligence. I do think that 3yos are generally at a disadvantage against these experienced older sprinters in these Group 1s but my horse was very impressive when making all and bolting up in the soft at Naas last time.
Aidan is of the opinion that he will be even more effective on this faster ground, so that looks a plus, too, so he has chances in a typically competitive race. I am not sure why they have fitted him with a tongue tie for the first time but I don't think that it is anything to get worried about. Of the others Astaire, back on 6f on fast ground, is another with a decent shout.
17:00 Ascot - Professor
Makes a quick reappearance after finishing second at Salisbury on Sunday, so I don't know if this is an afterthought or planned. He has backed up relatively quickly before though. And he has won on his only start at this course, and on fast ground, too. I certainly don't think that he is the best handicapped horse in here, far from it, but conditions should suit, as should a strongly-run 6f. As for the opposition, any of the 30 runners can win.
17:35 Ascot - Pique Sous
I won this race for Willie on Simenon a couple of years ago, so hopefully we can be competitive again. He didn't show much over 1m4f in the soft last time, but this longer trip and faster ground is what he needs, and he will certainly get that here. Clearly, he has a lot to find on form with the likes of Tiger Cliff, but these marathon races can be a great leveller, so we will find out who can grind it out best.