Royal Ascot week makes a low-key start with four flat meetings in Britain three on fast turf and one on the polytrack at Lingfield.
It will be interesting to see what the market makes of the chances of Masquerading in the fillies’ novice event on her belated racecourse debut at Carlisle. Bryan Smart and connections have had to be patient with the 3-y-old who cost £90,000 as a yearling. Those with experience don’t look anything special and the betting should provide valuable clues as to her ability and stable confidence.
In the 11f handicap for the classic generation Carrighilly steps up in trip having stayed on stoutly to finish runner up at Hamilton over 9f last time. Tim Easterby’s 3-y-old is out of a half-sister to Derby winner Workforce and went from the front last time. He might not get his own way up front, however, with Dreams Unwind likely to be a different proposition to her seasonal reappearance.
The vote, however, goes to Dr TJ Eckleburg (3.40) who is just 3lbs higher than when scoring at Ayr last time over 10f. That form was let down when the runner up – Engles Rock – failed to fire at Wetherby last week, but I liked the way the selection – 15/8 with William Hill – made his move from the back of the field, and he should have the race run to suit.
The 11f handicap for older horses is a cracker and Puckle did us a favour at Ayr last time and will be a warm order to land her hat-trick under a 5lbs penalty. This will be her third run of the month, however, and she is short enough in the betting given this is a much better race than the one she landed at Pontefract last week.
Molinari might get his own way on the lead, but I wonder if 10f is his trip and the vote goes to Lord Torranaga (4.15) who travelled well but was brushed aside by a progressive rival at Ayr over an additional quarter of a mile last time. Today’s distance looks ideal for Phil Kirby’s 6-y-old – 7/2 from 9/2 with BetVictor – with Kevin Stott keeping the ride. I thought Rocket Rod ran a decent race at Ayr last week and is one to keep on side going forward when he drops a bit further down the weights.
Clive Cox has made a quiet start to the season with just one winner from his last 25 runners, but I hope to see his Churchill Boy (7.00) defy a two-month absence and land the three-year-old sprint handicap. The ew selection – 9/1 with MansionBet – was a beaten favourite at Wolverhampton on his reappearance when too keen for his own good, He went down by just a head to Mohawk King – rated 99 – at Ascot and he looks fairly treated from a mark of 80 despite the reservations about the stable form. Classic winning jockey Adam Kirby has been in the plate for all four of his career starts and he is in the plate again tonight.
Flower Of Thunder (7.20) was no match for Puckle over this evening’s C&D at Nottingham at the beginning of the month but that filly, as mentioned earlier, has since won again and is a short price to land her hat-trick from a 10lbs higher mark at Carlisle. The each way selection – 13/2 from 8s with BetVictor – is only 1lb higher tonight and Kieran O’Neill keeps the ride on the selection who is well drawn in stall two. She is taken to break her maiden tag at the tenth time of asking.
The veteran Nakeeta has been a credit to connections, but I feel she needs a bit of cut in the ground to be seen at her best these days and I feel Cherry Cola (8.50) half the age of the top-weight will have her measure in the concluding 1m 6f handicap. The selection – 3s with Boylesports – looked an unlucky loser at Brighton last time over a shorter trip, but she stays this evening’s additional distance well enough, and I feel she will prefer underfoot conditions more than Nakeeta and Idilico who has started compromising his chance by starting slowly.