What a week of sport we have enjoyed and endured, one way of fraying the nerves, as a neutral until Arsenal on Thursday, I was exhausted so quite what state avid Liverpool and Spurs fans are in, one can only imagine.
So much more sport to come and I’m trying to get my head round the fact that the USPGA has moved from its normal August slot to next week! And it is to be played at the devilishly difficult Bethpage home of the 2002 and 2009 US Open. Players that will be on my shortlist are Justin Rose who BetVictor price up at 20-1, Xander Schauffele 25-1, a terrier of a player who crafts the ball into the green and Bryson De Chambeau 25-1, who blitz Augusta in round 1 and then eased off the gas considerably after, in awe of the whole occasion, the course will suit is analytics.
Then there is the upcoming Cricket World Cup, my second favourite sport behind NFL, there might be some value to be had with the 14-1 both Pakistan and West Indies. The latter taught England a lesson recently and Pakistan are getting their eye in without playing their full strength side at present.
I digress the weekend is upon us with Ascot hosting their Victoria Cup meeting, such is the openness of the race there are co-favourites on 10-1!!! Try and work that tricky puzzle out, the ground has been softened by the rain and the influence of the draw is negated by us seeking where the pace will be, there will only be a bias if there is stronger pace down one side as shown by the 2000 Guineas last week at Newmarket.
Ripp Orf attempts to become the first dual winner of the race in its history. It is relatively young having been established in 1988. He is drawn in stall 16 with the benefit of the speedy Cardsharp alongside in 15. Ripp Orf needs to be held up for a late run, and there is a danger that Cardsharp in the soft ground could get loose and be able to hang on. Raising Sand (14-1) has a potent strong finish in his repetoire also and may be overlooked because this is his first run for 203 days. He is the ultimate Ascot specialist having run at the course nine times already, and not phased by a battle he has won and finished third in a Challenge Cup, plus ran respectably in a Balmoral Handicap and a Royal Hunt Cup. His form figures at the course read Won, Won, 4th, 3rd, 16th, 7th, 8th, Won, 6th and in this I take him as my main selection and Cardsharp (20-1) because of his early speed as my saver.
Roger Varian has won Ascot’s 2.50 three times from just four runners, and last year it was Barsanti who claimed the prize, Salouen is odds-on and I grant you he is an admirable sort, able to scare the biggest superstars, yet the value may lie with last year’s winner.
At Haydock Evan Williams has got the knack of winning the Swinton Hurdle, four times he has claimed the prize, including with Silver Streak in 2018, he went on to run amazingly well in the Champion Hurdle. His John Constable won this back in 2017 and finished seventh last year off a mark of 156, his form has regressed so much he is now racing off 132, Hmmm. I’m a huge fan of Le Patriote, but for the fact he is off top weight he’d be my automatic pick. He has won 5 of his 14 races and I still believe there is plenty of improvement to come, so fingers tightly crossed, he isn’t vunerable to a less exposed sort.
Then my local, Lingfield, which hosts more important Oaks and Derby Trials, ironically I’ll be at Ascot, keeping across the sporting action everywhere, aren’t mobile phones and tablets a godsend these days. Mind you I wasn’t saying that on Thursday when there was no phone signal at Chester!
Back to Lingfield and the Classic Trials, the course has similar undulations to that of nearby Epsom and the sweeping downhill bend into the home straight is hard to negotiate, though I expect it to be immaterial to Anthony Van Dyck (11-10F), who is yet another off Aidan O’Brien’s conveyor belt of Derby protagonists. We’re expecting to see the main one Japan, either at Leopardstown on Sunday or at York in the Dante. I’m still in favourite of Sir Dragonet at this stage.
The Oaks Trial is at 1.55, James Doyle gets the mount on William Haggas, Frankellina (2-1), her name should give away her sire. She had her only start at Yarmouth back last October and gave indication that she has the potential to mix it in the top sphere.
The pairing of Haggas and Doyle could claim the Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes at 3.40 also live on ITV. I’ve backed Eirene throughout her career and not got much in return, as she constantly plays out hard luck stories, so watch her win as I oppose her today with Pretty Baby. Pretty Baby (5-2) has an ideal draw in stall one, she has won four of her six races including a listed event and the Group 3 Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood. Her book of entries are very lofty including the Lockinge Stakes, and Duke of Cambridge Stakes, to live up to those she should run well.