The first day of Ascot’s two-day King George meeting is the Friday highlight although there is also racing from Group 1 tracks Newmarket and York this evening.

2.30 Ascot

This is a big week for Andrea Atzeni whose career appeared to have stalled – at best – in recent times but he is riding out of his skin at present, and he has picked up the plum ride on Stradivarius at Goodwood on Tuesday. He is unbeaten in three previous rides on the evergreen stayer and, at the time of writing six of his last eleven mounts have won with only one of those rides out of the first four.

Atzeni partners CLOCHETTE – who is drawn out on the wing – in the valuable fillies’ novice event and she is taken to go one better than when runner up at Newbury on debut when she had Aunt Violet – who reopposes today – back in third. I thought the filly would have won quite cosily with a clear passage at the Berkshire track and she holds an entry in the Lowther at York next months.

With that experience under her belt, it will take a good one to beat her although there are some well bred newcomers in the field. The booking of Ryan Moore for Quantum Light catches the eye although she may need further – despite the fact that she is by Kodiak – than six furlongs going forward.

Recommendation: Clochette at Evens

3.40 Ascot

The Whipmaster has won his last four for Gary Moore and son Ryan is reunited with the 4-y-old who is only 6lbs higher than when running away with a slowly run race at Windsor last time. That was his first attempt in a class 2 and the third horse home – Global Storm – ran a cracker when runner up at Ripon last weekend. He could easily make it a nap hand of wins, but I do feel this is a stronger race than the Windsor contest and he is overlooked.

Merlin’s Beard has been a revelation over the last 12 months, and he didn’t get the best of trips when third at Chester over two miles when last seen. This drop back in trip is no concern, but I do hope to see JUAN DE MONTALBAN put behind a below par run at Royal Ascot despite the steadier of 10st 2lbs.

Connections decided to go for the 1m 6f Copper Horse Stakes at the Royal meeting and he didn’t seem to get home having travelled well to two out. That race is working out well and his previous fluent success over C&D – albeit from a 9lbs lower mark – suggested he could win a big race this term. He gets the vote in a hot little heat.

Recommendation: Juan De Montalban at 11/4 with William Hill

2.10 Uttoxeter

TEDHAM ran his best race yet over fences when just going down by a neck at Worcester and he is taken to break his duck over the larger obstacles despite being nudged up a pound for that run. The 8-y-old has yet to fulfil his initial promise over timber but he has plummeted down the weights of late and he jumped soundly last time in what was only his third start over fences.

He is over 20Lbs lower in the weights than when third in a valuable handicap hurdle at Haydock at the end of 2019, but connections have persevered with him, and he is potentially very well treated with that confidence boosting ground under his belt. If building on it, he will be very tough to beat.

Fergal O’Brien saddled the winner of the corresponding race 12 months ago and he saddles market leader Aviewtosea who scored over C&D on his chase debut last time. A 3lbs rise is fair but this is a better race.

Recommendation: Tedham at 11/4 with 10Bet

4.35 Thirsk

There is a bit of pace in the concluding two-mile handicap which should suit STORMBREAKER who was too keen – in a slowly run race – at Lingfield last time over 12f and promises to be well served by this step up in trip for James Fanshawe. His previous win at Salisbury over a mile-and-a-half also suggested that he was a thorough stayer, and he should have the race run to suit with Levitate, Oasis Prince and Hellenista in the field.

Recommendation: Stormbreaker at 5/2 with Boylesports

5.55 York

The opening 5/2 available for GHALY in the 7f handicap was surely too big and, at the time of writing, he is into 15/8 with William Hill. The selection returned from over 600-days off the track to run second at Hamilton.

The winner has, subsequently run a cracker from a 5lbs higher mark and the hope – and expectation – is that a 4lbs rise will not prevent the Godolphin gelding from going one better. It is well documented that trainer Saeed bin Suroor can get his inmates fit to go following a long break so he might not improve a great deal from Scotland, but a repeat of that comeback run might be enough. If that run has blown the cobwebs away, he will be very tough to beat.

Recommendation: Ghaly at 9/4 with 10 Bet

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