HUGHES AGAIN BUT HAYLEY RATES SHERGAR NAP: Daqman’s vote for top jockey in the Shergar Cup series at Ascot this afternoon is Richard Hughes but he rates a Hayley Turner ride the nap of the day. He warns that winning favourites average only one a year.
I can give you the Shergar jockeys’ result now! On past form, it’s definitive: Richard Hughes has 7 winners, Hayley Turner 4 – I expect them to finish first and second again today – and the rest are headed by Yutaka Take and Douglas Whyte with two apiece. Hugh Bowman and Fran Berry have done well on a points basis.
The trainers’ table: Andrew Balding (5), Mark Johnston and Roger Charlton (4 each), Paul Cole (3) and Clive Cox (2), are the only scorers of two or more winners in the last decade.
Only 10 favourites have won the six races in the entire 10 years but the winner has always been fairly well backed. The inference is: a well-supported horse, trained or ridden by the usual suspects. Let’s target those successful trainers and jockeys who have soft-ground horses today.
12.50 Ascot: Of the morning joint-favourites, I can’t have front-runner Snow Bay and couldn’t risk the York flop Sarrsar, though he might bounce back on soft ground: the price just doesn’t build in the required margin for error. Dunn’o is another front-runner, very difficult to win with.
Master Of Arts combines the trainer-jockey stats, as a Mark Johnston ridden by Yutaka Take. The gelding once hit seven wins in a row including on soft and only lost his form after a ‘killer’ race in the Triumph Hurdle (not the only horse to take time to recover from that bruising cavalry charge).
Meydan didn’t suit him this Spring but Master Of Arts (21.0 on Betdaq this morning) retains a record of being unbeaten on the Flat in England since September 2007. Swift Gift is another with a CV which says he can win after a long lay-off.
Circumvent (Paul Cole and Douglas Whyte) is now 7lb lower than his last winning mark, better off with Dubai Dynamo and Snow Bay whom he met last month, and a soft-ground winner. Yet another who could bounce back.
Swift Gift, who likes Ascot and won’t mind the ground, is strong in the market at 7.0 as I write, so I will go for Hugh Bowman and, as an outsider, Yutaka Take on Master Of Arts.
1.25 Ascot: Ile De Re will probably lead; like Balajo, his winning form is on soft but mainly in the French Provinces, and the strength of it is hard to assess. Hawk Mountain’s winning form is all on a sound surface.
Ascot specialist Ermyn Lodge, who couldn’t quite last out the 20 furlongs of the Ascot Stakes at the royal meeting, looks a worthy favourite under Hayley Turner: back to his best trip, I can see him taking over from Ile De Re and outgunning this field.
2.00 Ascot: Andrew Balding has Hugh Bowman up on Dungannon, a recent Doncaster winner on the soft, and beaten a neck in a 6f Ascot handicap (good to soft) last September but the fact remains that he’s lost on all four visits to Ascot and in all three starts raised to class 2.
Medicean Man has won three in a row at Ascot but Chester soft-ground winner Duchess Dora is poised at the weights to avenge a half-length defeat by him over CD last month. Yet ‘Dora’ is 7.4 and Medicean Man 4.1 as I write.
2.30 Ascot: Mark Johnston has struck it rich already, with Richard Hughes, Yutake Take, Douglas Whyte and Hugh Bowman getting tickets to ride. Olivier Peslier is just the kiddy for the other one of his five starters.
Only his rank outsider State Opera (23.0 as I write) has won with cut in the ground but the family of Ithoughtitwasover (Richard Hughes) love it soft, as do Pivotals and his son Pivotman (Hayley Turner) ran a cracker at Glorious Goodwood last month.
The dark horse is Seelo, a winner on the soft and last seen in a handicap of strength in depth, not far away in seventh when Goodwood winner, Labarinto, was third.
3.00 Ascot: This is one of those Russian-doll races where, every time you open one form line, it leads to another, and so on. I shall try and keep it simple by sticking to four-year-olds: they’ve won eight out of 10.
There’s little to choose at the revised weights between Averroes and Rock A Doodle Doo on their third and fourth in the Duke Of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot but that race – won by Fox Hunt – reflects well on Zuider Zee, who was unlucky behind Fox Hunt at Epsom.
There’s a question mark over the ground for Zuider Zee, as there is over the trip for Pipette and also concerning the in-and-out form of Life And Soul. William Jarvis has just hit form with all four out of his last four runners in the frame, two of them winners, so I’ll settle for Rock A Doodle Doo.
3.35 Ascot: There’s never been a winner with more than 9st 7lb (Firebeam up 14lb, Desert Law won only his maiden), and the trainers of Morache Music and Azzurra Du Caprio are out of form
Loki’s Revenge (17.0 on the Daq) usually needs a lot of racing to get wound up – though does love some cut in the ground – and is the danger to Mark Johnston’s Kingscroft. I expect this 7f winner to try to make all the running, the back-and-lay bet of the day at 10.0 this morning.
BET (all staked to win 20pts) 3.3pts win SWIFT GIFT and 1pt win and place MASTER OF ARTS (12.50 Ascot)
BET 6.6pts win (nap) ERMYN LODGE (1.25 Ascot)
LAY to win 10pts MEDICEAN MAN, and BET 3.1pts win DUCHESS DORA (2.00 Ascot)
BET 5.4pts win ITHOUGHTITWASOVER and 3.3pts win PIVOTMAN (2.30 Ascot)
BET 5pts win ROCK A DOODLE DOO (3.00 Ascot)
LAY to win 10pts FIREBEAM, and BET 2.2pts win KINGSCROFT, and 1.25pts win and place LOKI’S REVENGE (3.35 Ascot)