1pt EW Hold Tight @14/1, 0.5pt EW Mullionheir @20/1, 16:15 Ascot, Victoria Cup (UPDATE)

The weather has turned across the UK this week, and that means we are set to have an extremely quick Victoria Cup, where one of the first major big-field handicap prizes of the season is set to be won.

There isn’t a huge draw bias at Ascot, but most of the pace seems to be drawn middle-to-high other than Related (drawn 1), and Mutawathea (drawn 6).

MULLIONHEIR was massively progressive last season and looks set for further improvement as a four-year-old. He racked up five wins from seven starts and looks on course for another good campaign.

He is a strong traveller and has been drawn in stall 26, right beside the fast-starting Majestic Moon so should get a decent toe in to the race here which could be crucial as you don’t want to be left behind at the start.

Kieron Fox has built up a great understanding with this horse, and his staying-on fourth place behind Magical Memory at Newmarket last year (6f, gd-fm) in July reads very strong form with Magical Memory finishing inside a length behind Twilight Son in the Betfred Sprint Gup (Group 1) and now rated better than 115.

He is only 3lbs higher on his seasonal reappearance and goes well fresh so there is plenty to like about Mullionheir chances.

Grand Inquisitor and Outback Traveller are expected to improve markedly on their first starts of the season and warrant plenty of respect, however their prices in the market look short enough now and it might be worthwhile taking a chance on the extremely unexposed Goldolphin horse, HOLD TIGHT.

William Buick is generally a safe pair of hands in these big-field handicaps and he is in great form as is his yard. Hold Tight has only had three starts to date with his form figures reading 12-1. He has just had the one winning run on the turf, but this Exceed And Excel colt has plenty of scope to improve.

His only defeat came at the hands of Crazy Chic where he was collared late on having raced keenly on just his second start. Hold Tight looked impressive when coming from last to first on his debut this campaign where he won a shade cosily in the end.

Hold Tight’s lack of experience in a big-field handicap is a slight concern, but he is drawn in the middle which looks ok, and he showed no fear in slicing through his rivals on his last start, so should be there or thereabouts if continuing his upward progression.

UPDATE – with the late withdrawal of Mullionheir, its probably sensible to recycle that 1pt on Hold Tight and convert the bet in to an each-way stake.

1pt EW Hold Tight @14/1, 16:15 Ascot, Victoria Cup
0.5pt EW Mullionheir @20/1, 16:15 Ascot, Victoria Cup

Betvictor paying 1/4 odds for first five places.





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