Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, has five selections for us on Saturday – 4 at Ascot and a nap from Catterick. View selections below.
FRANKEL (4.05) can bring the house down on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot as Sir Henry Cecil’s ‘monster’ bids to extend his remarkable winning sequence to 14 on his farewell appearance.
This looks one of Frankel’s toughest assignments, with last year’s Champion Stakes winner Cirrus De Aigles lining up again, along with Ascot specialist Nathaniel. Heavy ground remains something of an imponderable for Frankel but Cecil’s celebrity crowd-pleaser is unopposable. The recommended wager is to be found in the ‘betting without Frankel’ market and Nathaniel will relish these testing conditions. John Gosden’s middle-distance star won the 2011 King George here and was pipped a nostril by Danedream in this year’s renewal. Ten furlongs is on the sharp side and William Buick will attempt to make full use of his mount’s stamina.
The Gosden/Buick combination harbour bright prospects with GREAT HEAVENS (2.55) in the Fillies And Mares Stakes. She ran a cracker in the Arc and this proven mud-lover must be hard to beat back racing against her own gender, as long as her trip across the Channel hasn’t left its mark. Dermot Weld’s four-year-old Sapphire is another filly at home on soft turf.
There is a barnstorming selection of top stayers locking horns in the Long Distance Cup and OPINION POLL (1.45) will strip fresher than most after enjoying a lengthy break following his hard-fought second to Colour Vision in the Ascot Gold Cup. With last year’s hero Fame And Glory running below par on his last two outings, and Colour Vision wearing cheek-pieces for the first time after some tough races lately, the best each-way shout may be Gosden’s soft-ground ‘underdog’ Aiken, who steps up in trip.
The French spoiled the English party in the Prix de L’Abbaye appetiser on Arc day at Longchamp when WIZZ KID (2.20) delivered an unstoppable surge close home, and the extra furlong of the Sprint Stakes should play to his strengths. Wizz Kid has about three lengths to find with Haydock conqueror Society Rock, but the ground was unsuitably firm for the Gallic raider that day.
The best bet of the weekend comes in an apprentices’ handicap at Catterick, with recent course winner BLUE DUNE (5.45) poised to make light of a 6lb rise. Mark Johnston’s low-grade filly is improving at a fair rate of knots and still looks ahead of the handicapper.
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