This vastly improved speedball, running in the silks of Lee Westwood and Chubby Chandler, could never get competitive when well fancied in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Things just didn’t pan right for Hoof It that day, with Kieren Fallon switching his mount from the stalls to track the middle group. Unfortunately, all the mid-race action was unfolding up the stands’ side and, by the time Fallon manoeuvred Hoof It back towards the leaders, Hayley Turner was showing the field a clean pair of heels on outsider Margot Did. The softer ground on the much-criticised Knavesmire wouldn’t have been ideal either, and a big run can be expected on this quicker terrain, with Graham Gibbons deputising for Ascot-bound Kieren Fallon. His devastating success under 10-stone in the Blue Square Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood is still etched in the memory.
Fast ground is also the key to the prospects of Bated Breath, who was never in the hunt from a wide draw at York but is better judged on his half-length defeat by Dream Ahead in the July Cup at Newmarket. He is 4lb better off at the weights here and has scored twice already at the Lancashire track.
After scooping the valuable Northumberland Plate at Newcastle, TOMINATOR (2.30) narrowly missed the Ebor cut, much to the frustration of his many supporters. By way of compensation, Tominator was switched to Chester where he had the misfortune to run into the quirky, but talented, Berling over a distance short of his best. The handicapper has raised him another 3lb but this is a much improved horse. Mark Johnston’s Shernando has won three of his last four starts in lower grade and has been raised 9lb for his last win at Hamilton. He took a while to get going that day but was well on top at the finish, leaving the distinct impression that the extra two furlongs of this contest was just what he wanted.
Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes team up with another fleet-footed two-year-old in CRUIS (4.40), who looked a bit unfortunate not to reel in Risky Art at York. That was his first defeat in three starts and Cruis looks well up to winning in Listed class.
Title-chasing Fallon has a good book of rides at Ascot and Eton Rifles will be a popular choice to follow up a recent Goodwood success over Webbow, his first run for David Elsworth since a switch from Howard Johnson. Eton Rifle’s best form, however, has come with some juice in the ground and, in anticipation of a much slicker surface here, fourth-home LOWTHER (3.15) can turn the tables on these better terms. He has been a grand servant to Alan Bailey and the stable has hit a bit of form (two winners earlier in the week).
With 16 runners declared for the competitive Ladbrokes Mobile Handicap, there are four places up for grabs in the each-way market. SWIFT ALHAARTH (3.45) is lurking at the foot of the handicap for Mark Johnston and Franny Norton, who have teamed up successfully on several occasions in recent weeks. Swift Alhaarth likes to force the pace and, on his last visit to Ascot, was only collared close home by Parlour Games, a subsequent winner at York’s Ebor fixture. Swift Alhaarth enjoys a hefty 10lb pull in the weights with the Godolphin horse and should again be bang in the firing line turning for home.
Charlie Hills is quickly making a name for himself since taking over the licence from his father, Barry, and Sajwah gave him his first Listed success at Salisbury in midweek. SEA ODYSSEY (4.20) wouldn’t be one of his stable stars but, on the back of two comfortable victories at Brighton and Lingfield, is capable of completing his hat-trick in the nursery. A 4lb rise for his last success doesn’t look prohibitive.