1pt ew Strath Burn @11/1, Ascot 13:20

A full twenty runners will contest the now Group-One Champion Sprint Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. Whilst the ground is good to soft, Ascot’s straight sprint course is up on higher ground and is often dryer than the official going suggests, which gives all the market principles a chance.

It’s a shame Nunthorpe winner Mecca’s Angel doesn’t take hers after withdrawing from the Abbaye at Longchamp. She’d have a great chance despite the step up in trip to six furlongs.

That leaves champion sprinter elect Muhaarar at the top at the market as an easy-to-back 2/1. His form is fairly bulletproof after adding a hat-trick of Group One wins to his Greenham stakes win in April. If at his best this should be his, but a lot can go wrong in such a big field and there’s plenty of class behind him to upset the odds.

His very best form has come on quick ground so the forecast good to soft conditions might not help his chances. The same can’t be said for his stablemate, Strath Burn (11/1), who probably would have won the Haydock Sprint Cup but for another stride. It really makes no sense that he’s twice the price of his short-head victor that day, the unbeaten Twilight Son, despite the latter having the services of Ryan Moore.

The Tin Man looks a big threat stepping out of handicap company. His turn of foot was electric over course and distance last time out but a highly-competitive Group One like this is altogether different. The handicapper still has him 16lbs behind the favourite and I’d want a longer price to be on board.

Further back in the market, Adaay (20/1) will be allowed to go off a big price despite being clear favourite at Haydock. That’s the nature of sprint heats and it often pays to keep the faith. In this instance I’m not enamoured by the form of his recent Newbury win, but his defeat of Limato earlier in the year has to be respected.

Maarek (18/1) is in the form of his life and will relish the cut in the ground, as will good old Gordon Lord Byron (20/1) who can never be discounted in these conditions.

With four places offered by bookmakers and much of the remaining cast, in my opinion, not up to this, the each-way chances look very good for Strath Burn to prove just how good the three-year-old sprinters are this season.

1pt each-way Strath Burn @11/1, Ascot 13:20

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