A FAVOURITE RACE
The record of favourites in a race is a stat straight out of trivial town, along the pointless path. However, there’s something going on with the Summer Mile (3.15), in which the last seven favourites have won, not a line fluffed amongst the recent headliners. Sometimes there’s only the one genuine Group 2 miler amongst them, and often it’s a manageable field size, but, even so, the low-hanging fruit can’t keep being so easily picked.
Step forward MOHAATHER, whose position as favourite relies rather more on joining the dots than any direct lines, though everyone saw what went on in the Queen Anne, and how seventh place there did him a disservice, when finishing with a full tank. But this is as well-contested a Summer Mile as I can remember, with three besides Mohaather coming on from the Queen Anne, former Classic-placed contestants, Ascot specialists, and a Gosden wild card, as well as the runners-up from the last two editions.
If Mohaather is to get to the Sussex Stakes then he’ll have to win this, and to win this he’ll have to be Sussex Stakes calibre alright.
It might be something, it might be nothing, but in a novice at 12.25 with so little to go on, with the vast majority making their debut, any and every clue counts, and the game of family fortunes says that GOLDEN CRUSADER could well be an early-riser.
That’s because both his dam (Ihsas) and his half-sister (the aptly-named Straight Away) managed to win first time out, encouraging for the readiness of Golden Crusader, in conjunction with the way the stable is still going with its juveniles, Tactical just about the top of the two-year-old class after the July Stakes.
The pair with experience don’t set the bar all that high, Bobby On The Beat the better of them, considering that Rommel has a penalty, and so the door is open to a newcomer, reasons for thinking that Golden Crusader will be ready if he’s able.
ROYAL REFERENCE POINT
A horse trained by Roger Varian, ridden by Andrea Atzeni and owned by Sheikh Obaid, reappearing at Ascot off a long absence, and moving up to 1¾m for the first time. That was the magic mix for Fujaira Prince at the Royal meeting, when he ran away with the Copper Horse Handicap, and exactly the same formula applies to APPARATE in the 1.30.
There’s also another positive reference point for Apparate in the shape of his brother Appeared, likewise representing the same connections, as he got better again as a four-year-old, and stayed 1¾m the once he tried in Dubai.
Apparate has already shown a liking for Ascot, successful on his only start here, last September, in probably a stronger race than he returns in on Saturday, and if there’s a horse in the field with designs on becoming better than a handicapper then it’s him.
ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR ARECIBO
We’re not quite in now-or-never territory, but if ARECIBO doesn’t revive in the sprint handicap on Saturday (3.50) then I don’t know when he will, and I’ll be out of pocket if he’s out of the first four. It’s a frightening race for a punt (welcome to sprint handicaps), but there are five good reasons for believing in Arecibo in this spot.
1) The course. Prior to the Wokingham, he had finished second on both previous visits to Ascot, including splitting Dakota Gold and Danzeno in the Listed Rous Stakes last October.
2) The signs. Watch back his run at Doncaster last weekend – eye-catching to say the least.
3) The mark; 97 is lower than when he was third in the Ebor meeting or fourth in the Portland, both hotter handicaps than this one.
4) The jockey. Having been aboard for only one of Arecibo’s last four starts, Danny Tudhope renews the relationship at Ascot, and he’s the only rider to have won on him in Britain.
5) The draw. Stall 3 puts him next door to the hot zone, with National Anthem coming out of stall 4 and Ornate from 5. That couldn’t have worked out any better for Arecibo.