With just three days to go, Royal Ascot is at the forefront of every racing fan’s thoughts.
With that in mind, today’s British fare has a mundane look about it, but there’ll still be opportunities — though they’ll be far from easy — to boost the coffers ahead of next week’s five-day extravaganza.
The big betting heat comes from York, where Foxtrot Lady looks the right favourite at 6-1 for the six-furlong Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap.
Andrew Balding’s charge had to wait until her eighth race for a first victory, a frustrating sequence that featured four seconds and two thirds, before she finally got off the mark at Chester last month in impressive style.
Foxtrot Lady, a half-sister to Stewards’ Cup heroine Dancing Star, took another step forward last weekend, cruising to a decisive victory at Carlisle in the style of a progressive filly.
That impressive performance didn’t go unnoticed and a 7lb rise obviously makes her task today tougher, but Foxtrot Lady had struck up a decent partnership with Jason Watson and his 5lb claim should aid her task here.
The fact she already has experience of a big-field dash — she was third of 23 to Darkanna in the Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy last October — is a further plus.
The only slight concern is the fact this race comes just eight days after her victory in Carlisle, but she does look a filly rapidly on the upgrade. Dancing Star was just touched off in this race in 2016. The hope is her sibling can go one better.
Elsewhere at York, the Sky Bet Grand Cup Stakes looks a match between Marmelo and Weekender. Narrow preference is for Marmelo.
Hughie Morrison’s charge won twice last year and arguably produced a career-best display when going down by a neck to prolific French stayer Vazirabad on his seasonal reappearance at Longchamp last month.
If he rocks up in the same form on the Knavesmire, he should get the job done.
With Spanish City looking a short enough price at 5-2 in the JCB Handicap, Get Knotted looks a solid each-way play at 7-1.
The Michael Dods-trained six-year-old hasn’t won since last July, but that came at today’s venue and he again illustrated his fondness for York when third last time out.
The fact he has found winning difficult of late is an obvious negative, but he’s a solid, consistent horse and should hit the frame.
In the opener, the Queen Mother’s Cup Handicap, Mukhayyam gets the vote. Second in this race last year, the selection went one better on his return to York last July.
His first two starts of 2018 were underwhelming efforts, but he showed signs of a return to form when second at Chester last time out. If he can build on that, he should go close here.
It was in the Randox Health Scurry Stakes at Sandown last season that Battaash first illustrated his devastating speed and his trainer, Charlie Hills, can land the spoils again today, courtesy of Spoof.
A winner over course and distance last September, Spoof comes here on the back of a cosy victory at Chester last month and is reported by his trainer to have worked “really well” ahead of today’s assignment.
Elsewhere at Sandown, the Randox Health Handicap can go the way of Chiefofchiefs. The Charlie Fellowes-trained five-year-old struck over course and distance last month and a repeat of that display might be enough to see him home in front again.
The ITV4 cameras are also at Chester for the City Of London Handicap where Istanbul Sultan is fancied to oblige for the William Haggas team, chiefly at the expense of Mark Johnston’s Austrian School.
Get Knotted (EW)
Foxtrot Lady (Nap)
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