Royal Ascot will dominate the thoughts of many punters this week and I’ll certainly be among that number from Tuesday, though uncertainty over ground conditions along with the fact there’s four Flat meetings in the UK on Monday to asses means I haven’t yet started delving into the formbook to form views on the big meeting of the week.
However, I have managed to get through those meetings taking place on Monday and have the usual four selections.
Anyonecanhaveitall showed improved form when upped in trip for his handicap debut at Redcar last month and though unable to build on that when again filling third spot at Nottingham 12 days ago looks like the type to win handicaps over this sort of trip.
His latest effort came behind the well-treated and progressive Moon King who has already gone in again since while the runner up also appealed as ahead of his mark going into that race and it looks a strong piece of form.
Monday’s race does not appear to feature quite so many well-treated types and though he needs to reverse form from Redcar with Champagne Marengo he now has a run behind him and should be up to doing that so long as he stays this longer trip on softer ground which seems likely given how he’s been shaping.
David O’Meara brought up his fastest ever half-century when Firmament ended a lengthy losing run to score in a valuable handicap at York on Saturday and with the stable in fine form Morning Duel can provide them with another winner.
Third on debut at Ripon 11 days ago, Morning Duel took a short while to settle early on and then seemed a shade green when pressured in the straight as he became slightly unbalanced on the Ripon ridges that seem to catch out plenty of horses, especially those lacking experience.
That was an encouraging debut all told and with improvement likely with experience behind him and the shorter trip unlikely to be an issue on pedigree he should be up to taking this on his second start.
Spirit Of Zebedee has had excuses on a couple of recent outings with the draw having gone against him at Thirsk and Beverley but he had been in good form before that and the handicapper appears to have taken a chance by quickly splitting his ratings on turf and all-weather and allotting a lower turf mark.
That move seems strange when considering he also had a split mark in the autumn, but at that point he was able to race off lower marks on the all-weather than turf.
On balance he probably has run to a slightly higher level on artificial surfaces but his best turf efforts have come at Catterick and he is proven on easy ground so conditions are unlikely to be a problem for all that he does seem better at 6f than Monday’s 5f distance.
Even allowing for the trip being shorter than optimum he looks a shade overpriced given he’s potentially well handicapped and has the visor – worn for his last four wins – reapplied.
Aplomb was disappointing when a beaten favourite at Musselburgh last time but he was poorly positioned - wider than ideal at the back of the field at a track that favours those racing prominently.
He did make some ground up the straight but was not given a hard time through the final furlong after he lost his footing after a slight bump from the horse on his inside and ultimately it looks like a race to forget for him.
His previous second at Ascot in a race that looks like solid form for the grade was a better effort and a reproduction of that would make him the one to beat here and he has conditions in his favour.
The yard remain in excellent form and the return to 6f on a straight track is expected to suit.
Chris Dixon's fab four: