With the weather a little bit up and down and the big meetings still a little way down the line, the racing hasn’t been of the best quality but there is a better card at Ascot on Saturday with a standout race on it.
That race is the Victoria Cup, a real cavalry charge over the seven furlongs and it is the race which we are focusing on for our betting needs over the course of the day. Keep reading for a full preview of the race and two selections.
3.40 Ascot: Victoria Cup
With bookies currently going 9/1 the field, this year’s Victoria Cup is as competitive as ever with a maximum field of 29 declared. A straight track handicap over 7 furlongs, the draw is often important but it’s hard to know where to focus; high draws are normally favoured, most of the pace is in the middle with some drawn high but, on softish ground which is expected, it’s common to see the draw bias flip on its head. I’ll be covering 2 so hopefully we’ve got all boxes ticked.
Sir Mark Prescott’s Sunset Breeze & the Hugo Palmer trained Acquitted are heading the market & both come here with good claims. The former has finished in the first 2 in 7 of its 9 career starts but this is his toughest assignment to date & he’s 10lb higher than his last win. The latter is stepping back in trip which would be my main concern, otherwise he has a top chance given he was a neck 2nd in the Spring Mile & is only 1lb higher here. Chiefofchiefs did us a 50/1 favour at Royal Ascot last year but I’m just not as convinced on this sort of ground whilst Jumaira Bay has some good form in the book (a 2nd to Spring Cup winner Nugget on the first start last year) but his price looks very tight in an open race like this.
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I could go on & on with contenders but I’ve settled on 2 against the field. The first of those is drawn high in stall 27, coming in the form of Symbolize. Now a 4 year old, he’s won just 1 of his 10 career starts but there’s reason to believe his luck is about to change. First up, his jockey & trainer could not be in better form &, on the track, he’s got some very good form in the book. 4th in the Windsor Castle here as a 2 year old, he opened up last year by finishing an excellent 3rd in the Jersey Stakes at last year’s Royal meeting. He was highly tried & finished the season by running in a top mile handicap here on Champions Day. He was 8th of 18 behind Njord that day but ran well enough & stuck on well over a trip a bit too far. On his reappearance at Newmarket, he ran a cracker when 2nd behind Double or Bubble. He didn’t settle early doors, didn’t get a run at a crucial stage & gave track position to the winner who came up the favoured stands rail. He stayed on better than the rest of the field & was the one to take from the race. With the trip, track, draw, ground & big field all suiting, I’d expect him to be in the final shake up.
At a bigger price, I cannot leave out Walhaan having his first run of the season for a new & very shrewd yard. Drawn lower in 10, he comes here with his best 2 runs last year being at this track, the first when 2nd behind River Nymph when going off at 100/1. He’s 16lbs better off for a 2 length beating & that rival is one of the more fancied runners here. What’s more, my selection would have gone really close given a better ride. On the bridle 2 furlongs out, the winner got first run & he went down as an eyecatcher. Later in the year, he was 2nd again here, this time behind Cambridgeshire 6th Tempus who went off favourite for that handicap. In fact, the selection ran in the Cambridgeshire & had the coffin draw in stall but ran better than it first appears, finishing 13th of 27 but 1st of 7 of those drawn on the far side. With plenty of soft ground form from his time in France & a jockey who rides this straight track as good as any, he’s likely to outrun his odds in the most open looking of races.
Back Symbolize (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 13.00 Skybet (⅕ odds 1-7)
VOID – Back Walhaan (e/w) for a 0.75/10 stake at 19.00 Skybet (⅕ odds 1-7)