13:55: British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1), 6f
Dream Of Dreams has been excellent this season and loves a stiff 6f but ground this soft isn’t absolutely certain to suit and there are a few unexposed horses who can have a big say. Unbeaten sprinters are a rare breed, and, whilst the world is still at his feet, I’m taking the 9/1 about STARMAN making it four from four. Yes, bad ground is a negative as he’s a good mover, but there’s form on soft in the family and he’s a big enough price to chance that he can conquer what is a very substandard 6f division.
1pt win Starman @9/1, 13:55 Ascot, Saturday
14:30 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1), 12f
This is a really tough race as it’s wide open and lacks a standout performer. I’m keen on Even So at 7/1 but John Gosden doesn’t tilt at windmills in Group Ones and it’s a little premature to be writing off FRANKLY DARLING after one bad run. She ran pretty well in the Oaks but lacked the pace of Love on good ground and it was a similar story when well beaten at York. The York form looked well below her best and I suspect soft ground could be what she wants. Frankels often flourish on softer ground and her best form is with some cut over this course and distance, so I’d be hopeful she can bounce back to form. It’s a price thing at 18/1 – let’s not forget she went off 11/8 favourite for the Oaks and the yard must have really fancied her. It’s concerning Dettori chooses Mehdaayih but fair enough as she’s achieved more in her career to date.
1pt win Frankly Darling @18/1, 14:30 Ascot, Saturday
15:05: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1), 1m
The unbeaten Palace Pier is favourite here and has rock-solid claims. The best chance of getting him beaten is probably bad luck in running as he appears to have a significant class edge over his rivals. If there’s a bet in this race – which I believe there is – it’s the scumbag each-way play on the brilliantly named THE REVENANT, a confirmed mudlark who ran a big race to come second in this last year. He’s had a quiet season and comes here fresh after an easy win last time on Arc weekend, and 11/2 with four places on offer is very generous from Paddy Power. He’s got 7lb to make up with Palace Pier on official ratings and concedes 3lb weight-for-age so there’s a mountain to climb, but stranger things have happened.
1pt each-way The Revenant @11/2, 15:05 Ascot, Saturday (1-4, 1/5 Paddy Power)
15:40: Champion Stakes (Group 1), 10f
A very deep renewal with lots of betting angles. Despite the favourites’ strong claims we can take on Magical and French Derby winner Mishriff on price grounds and there’s an abundance of each-way chances in this race. Serpentine has been dismissed by the market at 16/1 and will surely outrun those odds with the three-year-old allowance, but fellow three-year-old PYLEDRIVER has big claims too. On official ratings he is only 1lb off Magical at the weights and crucially has Ascot form having romped home in the King Edward VII Stakes. He looked a class act in the Great Voltigeur giving weight and a beating to Mogul and ran a huge race in the St Leger when not getting home. The concern is he could bomb after a hard season and the soft ground is a question mark, but he’s 18/1, stays well and looks to have pace. The other class act who has been totally dismissed for this is JAPAN, who has become disappointing. However, his season will have been all about the Arc for his Japanese owners and the vibes from the O’Brien yard were positive before all their runners got withdrawn on the eve of the race. He’ll be in top condition and I can’t let him go unbacked at 16/1 with a perfect draw in stall two. If he can rediscover his best form he has the class to win this, no doubt. I don’t think we can read anything into the jockey bookings as Ryan Moore was never getting off Magical.
1pt win Japan @16/1, 15:40 Ascot, Saturday
1pt win Pyledriver @18/1, 15:40 Ascot, Saturday