In the last two seasons, Tis Marvellous has been to Ascot four times, resulting in the four best performances of his life: fourth then second in two Wokinghams, alongside two clear-cut wins, the latest of which (in July) was Group class.
And yet he’s been beaten (favourite) in two Listed races since, but neither was at his beloved Ascot. At Beverley he ran into trouble, and at Doncaster he ran into the wind, in the teeth of it from an early stage, taking its toll on him.
The ‘D’ team of Danzeno and Dakota Gold will be difficult to put away, but returning to Ascot – returning home – is the key to Tis Marvellous, whose best if enough to take this, the Rous Stakes at 2.00.
The career high for Di Fede was in this fillies’ Listed race (4.15) last year, when she steamrolled through the soft ground to win by 3½ lengths. She has been only flirting with that level so far in 2019, but coming home to the scene of her greatest day could well be inspiring, coupled with the fact she’s dipping down from Group 3 company, much like her approach in 2018.
This is the perfect storm for her, and there’s a change of rider in play, though Silvestre de Sousa has partnered her once before, to good effect, when they were beaten a neck and a nose, also at Ascot.
The stable, that of Ralph Beckett, is hotter than at any other point this year, operating at a winner every other day through September. Everything is right for Di Fede.
DREAM INTO REALITY
Before Enable, and before Treve, there was a another filly who might have been in the market for an Arc hat-trick, but for being robbed of a chance of a second because of an outbreak that kept her quarantined in Germany, a matter of months after she had beaten Nathaniel in the King George.
How fitting then, on Arc weekend, that her name and fame is remembered via her son, the up-and-coming Faylaq who’s coming up to Group level for the Cumberland Lodge Stakes (4.35).
Getting the weight-for-age off the elder trio, and more from the penalty-carrying Morando, the leap is more theoretical than practical for Faylaq, who is just a few pounds behind them, his premium pedigree (not only out of Danedream but by Dubawi) manifesting all the time.
Easy ground is perfect for his powerful, pounding action.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
It will be a sad day when there’s an Ascot handicap without either Ripp Orf or Raising Sand. Fortunately, this isn’t that day. In Ascot poker, this pair of Jacks is the ultimate handicap hand, the pair having a remarkable record up the straight track, augmented this year, by Raising Sand winning the International on King George day and Ripp Orf finishing fourth in that and a neck second last time.
The former has his ground, but the latter is the better handicapped right now, though there’s the small matter of 16 other horses to consider, one three-year-old amongst them, Casanova out to ‘do a Lord North’ for John Gosden, Cassanova the odd one out in the field.
For a flyer, you could do worse than have a few quid on Cold Stare, who loves the mud and returns to his favoured trip following two spins over 6f since his wind op.