Strong field as Ascot should see a number of real contenders.
Ascot’s Victoria Cup is one of the most competitive handicaps of the entire Flat season, and comes over what is deemed to be a specialist trip of seven furlongs, and the open nature of the race is reflected in the wide-open betting market. Often the draw helps to narrow down big-field handicaps, but even that factor can be variable at Ascot, and it’s hard to imagine a trickier race to call.
The progressive Brownsea Brink deservedly heads the market having finished third in a hot affair at Newbury last time, just ahead of a subsequent listed winner. That came over a mile, but he’s probably better suited by a strongly run race over this shorter trip, and he picked up well to lead inside the distance at Newbury before being run down by a couple of stouter stayers. He’s going from strength to strength, and ought to give favourite backers a decent run for their money.
Of the 7f-specialists, Bertiewhittle has become something of a cliff horse for many, constantly catching the eye in handicaps, but beginning to run out of excuses. He would have been closer but for a slow start at Haydock last time, and that form has worked out well, but it takes a brave man, or one with deep pockets, to keep backing him. Glen Moss won that contest, and hasn’t been long with his current yard, but he may prove best on a turning track, and this test may be too much for him, particularly after the handicapper has had his say.
One who tends to save his best efforts for Ascot is Loving Spirit, on whom the excellent Robert Tart is again able to claim 3 lb, and if finding one for the placepot is your aim, then he would be high on any shortlist.
At bigger odds, however, there is some appeal in backing Burn The Boats, who represents the shrewd Ger Lyons, and won a similarly competitive handicap at the Curragh last season. His ability to race handily without needing to dominate was an advantage there, and it’s a run style which will stand him in good stead again, as long as he finds himself in the correct group, of which there may be several.
That’s always a complication of backing in an Ascot cavalry charge, but the upside is a very juicy price, and the son of Big Bad Bob is arguably still not fully exposed. He’s taken to give another young claimer, Colin Keane, a red-letter day.
The BetBright Verdict – Burn The Boats e/w @ 17/1