WHILE IT’S a typically low-grade week in the build-up to Royal Ascot, there are plenty of competitive handicaps for punters to get stuck into, most notably at York.
The best horse on the card is SIR DANCELOT, who missed last weekend’s John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock because of heavy ground.
Yorkshire has had its fair share of rain this week but if David Elsworth decides to chance his hand today (Friday), his three-time Group 1 winner can finally make his mark in the mile division.
Course specialist GET KNOTTED also stands out in the 7f contest in Saturday’s Macmillan’s Cancer Charity Day, which has raised over £8 million since it was started back in 1971.
Michael Dodds’s reliable sort has notched up three of his seven wins on the Knavesmire and has been placed six times, including when runner-up in this race 12 months ago off a 3lb higher mark. Versatile over a variety of distances and ground, he always takes a couple of runs to come to hand after a winter break and returns to his old stomping ground off a very attractive mark.
Ryan Moore has a good record when teaming up with Ian Williams and Moore’s agent Tony Hind is one of the shrewdest in the business. They pair up again on CONSEQUENCES in the closer. Formerly a dual winner with David O’Meara, the four-year-old didn’t show much on his stable debut but is now only 1lb above October’s win at Newcastle.
Upper Helmsley-based O’ Meara has a fine record at his local course and MAKAWEE can take her form to a new level in the opener at 1.50. The daughter of Farhh coasted to victory at Wetherby most recently, and a 10lb hike might not be enough to stop her winning again.
Former Dewsbury District Golf Club assistant Nick Krzywicki and his father Dick, who played for Huddersfield Town and Wales, have shares in SOLO SAXOPHONE who can make sweet music again at Hexham tomorrow (Saturday).
The Dan Skelton trained son of Frankel bounced back from a layoff with two wins in April and is now rated off 127 over hurdles. He showed that this mark is well within his capabilities with a third place effort at Aintree last time out, and he’s returning to a track where he recorded a career-best effort.
Another Frankel offspring is Carrigill’s nap at York tomorrow (Saturday) in the Ebor Grand Cup. MEKONG is a promising stayer for Sir Michael Stoute who ploughed through the mud at Haydock last September to win the Unibet Handicap.
Like many from this yard, he has got better with time and looked capable of winning in this Listed grade on his recent comeback at Sandown.
The word early in the season from Bryan Smart’s stable had FAIRY FALCON as a live Nunthorpe contender. Out of the same dame as l’Abbeye winner Tangerine Trees, she goes in Doncaster’s 5f sprint on Sunday.
Owned by Steve Parkin’s burgeoning Clipper Logistics operation, the 86-rated filly produced a good fifth in a Listed race at Ayr behind the smart Intense Romance in her last race of 2018 and probably needed the run when fourth at Musselburgh last time.
There’s plenty of water to pass under the bridge in more ways than one before the royal meeting next week so I’m steering clear of ante-post favourites until the week unfolds, but based on the current odds here’s each way Lucky 15 to muse over.
DI FEDE loves Ascot and is no 33/1 shot on form in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, while in the Hunt Cup NEW GRADUATE could be challenging in Pattern races by the end of the season.
Coupled with that pair on the last day are French sprinters INNS OF COURT – last seen in the Hong Kong Mile – where Ascot’s 6f track can play to his strengths in the Diamond Jubilee, and VANBRUGH, currently a 25/1 shot in a very open Wokingham, who won a smart conditions race at Thirsk in April.
CARRIGILL’S NAP (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top 4): MEKONG, York, Saturday, 3.00.
AUGUR’S BEST BET: FAIRY FALCON, Doncaster, Sunday, 3.55.