1pt win Highland Reel @12/1, 15:40 Ascot, Saturday

Usual pilot Ryan Moore may have jumped off to ride easy Newmarket winner Exosphere for Sir Michael Stoute, but HIGHLAND REEL looks the class horse in this renewal of the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes and appears generously priced at 12/1.

This is a Group One winner in two different continents – he won the Hong Kong Vase and Secretariat Stakes in the States – and, despite being labelled a quick ground horse, has plenty of decent form on a softer surface in Britain and Ireland too.

He was only three-and-a-half lengths behind the mighty Golden Horn in a vintage renewal of last year’s Irish Champion Stakes, and also placed second, beaten under two lengths, behind Arc-third New Bay in last season’s French Derby.

Both were run on ground softer than good and rank as excellent form.

He’s not run to that level in his last few starts but the ability is there – and if it were better ground he’d be a fraction of the 12/1 he currently trades.

Simple Verse is hard to back with confidence after a pretty poor show in the Coronation Cup where she didn’t even pass Postponed’s pacemaker – much to my frustration!

I think she’s exposed now as shy of top class and she’s hard to back with confidence so soon after Epsom.

If we do believe that then it does knock the favourite’s Newmarket form as she finished second – and that line of thought would set things up nicely for Highland Reel to stamp his class on the race.

1pt win Highland Reel @12/1, 15:40 Ascot, Saturday

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