The Balmoral Handicap will be the final instalment on Qipco Champions Day in the middle of October and today on what will arguably be similar conditions, we get a chance to assess some of the potential challengers in this “concisely” named precursor.
Windfast enters the race under top weight with some Group form behind him in the shape of a 13.5l defeat to Adaay in the Hungerford after showing big improvement first time out to beat Mister Universe. He is lightly raced this season, albeit for his third start carrying 9-10 and the wide berth creates a mountain to climb, which suggests he will need to be of pattern quality to triumph. Hawkesbury is another with Group form – 6th behind Limato at Ascot in April. Another who has been lightly raced as a three year old, he should’ve landed the odds at Thirsk in a weaker contest last time out so its hard to be overly confident in this bigger field.
Mr. Win has been superb all season, progressing nicely through his races. He dispatched of Farlow and Speculative Bid at Newmarket whom have both gone on to run well in defeat in amongst better company. There is a slight question mark over the softer ground and with a 4lb hike; it may just be enough to stop his winning run. The twice-advised Mullionhear is primed for another strong traveling performance and arguably could still be better than his 3lb rise. I may have to have a saver on him but at 8/1 favourite despite bottom weight, he has certainly not sneaked in under the radar. Field of Dream loves a big field Ascot handicap and has to get a mention; it would be no surprise to see him run close.
But the verdict goes to Fox Trotter. This three year old was not given much help in either of his two races this season when drawn widest and carrying top weight to finish a decent fourth to Goodwood specialist Enlace in his opener, and then following that when he was shuffled way too far back and given no room on the inside to make a run at the finish at the same track seven days ago. This straight and flatter 7f at Ascot makes more appeal – he looks like a decent pace will suit him and there is plenty around him in stall 15 albeit the low to middle numbers have previously had an advantage here. He remains with plenty of potential and his handicap mark could still be on the shy side at 100 (down 1lb). The ground should be no problem so on his third start of the season he just might get the conditions that enable him to fly home.
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