Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ascot and Redcar on Saturday and Lonchamp on Sunday. View selections below.
Japan’s Derby-winning colt KIZUNA (3.15) can rattle home like the Orient Express in Paris on Sunday, derailing fellow countryman Orfevre in a fascinating Arc at Longchamp.
The Prix Niel is traditionally the most enlightening of the Arc trials, producing nine of the last 17 winners, and Kizuna duly did the business last month after travelling strongly throughout. Kizuna can extend that roll of honour to 10, with confidence boosted by his trainer’s assertion that his under-cooked superstar had more improvement to come. Kizuna has been drawn 11 of the 18 runners, which isn’t ideal, as eight of the last nine winners have been drawn six or under, but several of his main market rivals are berthed even wider. Favourite Orfevre, agonisingly caught close home 12 months ago, comes from stall eight and will go off a strong favourite.
My Arc prejudices lie with the three-year-olds, however, and Epsom hero Ruler Of The World, a fast-finishing (and probably unlucky) second to Kizuna in the Prix Niel, may do best of the European Classic generation, emerging from a lovely berth in six.
With the Japanese hero-worshippers rolling up in their droves at Longchamp, my advice is to take an early price on Kizuna with your British bookmaker. Conversely, the lop-sided on-course market may see Ruler of The World trading at a bigger price on the Pari-Mutuel, so ask for your wager to be settled at French Tote odds.
Back on home shores on Saturday, ROYAL EMPIRE (2.40) is a strong fancy for the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge at Ascot. Kieren Fallon gets the leg up on the Godolphin four-year-old, who built on a successful winter campaign at Meydan by lifting the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury in exemplary fashion. There was nothing wrong with his subsequent second to useful Prince Bishop over a shorter trip at Kempton.
ASCRIPTION (3.50) missed last weekend’s Cambridgeshire due to the quick ground and there should be enough juice in the ground at Ascot for Hugo Palmer’s fast-improving handicapper to showcase his talent. Ascription was particularly impressive when routing quite a strong field at Doncaster last time and third home Levitate (beaten 10 lengths) has since scored with plenty in hand at Ayr. Another improver, Big Johnny D, looks a seven-furlong specialist and should go close for David Barron. Both horses are drawn low, so fingers crossed they are on the ‘right’ side.
Another northern trainer, Bryan Smart, has an eye-catching record in the opening five-furlong dash, posting three wins and a second from the last four renewals. He relies on recent Yarmouth winner FREE ZONE (1.30), beaten a neck by Doc Hay over course and distance 12 months ago.
At Redcar, TOP NOTCH TONTO (2.50) can take a sharp elevation in class in his stride by scooping the Listed event. Brian Ellison’s three-year-old was also a Newmarket absentee on account of the ground so, hopefully, there will be a few showers around in the north-east. Caspar Netscher rarely runs a bad race but may have to settle for another second prize.
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