Ashoka On The Cards For An Evening At Aintree6 min read
If the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes looks like being a vintage renewal at Royal Ascot on Wednesday, the same cannot be said of the St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday run over the round mile for the classic generation.
The race often attracts the winners of the English, Irish and French 2000 Guineas but Magna Grecia, winner of the Newmarket classic, bypasses the race to wait for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood next month through injury.
The French form is likely to be represented by runner up Shaman, but impressive Irish classic winner Phoenix Of Spain has been cut from 6/4 to 11/8 as a result of the news of Magna Grecia’s defection. Shaman was trimmed from 12s to 10/1 at BetVictor with Curragh second Too Darn Hot 11/4 second favourite.
The latter was described by his trainer John Gosden yesterday as being the “worst managed horse of the year.” It was hard not to agree with those sentiments although his handler is bullish ahead of his rematch with Phoenix Of Spain.
At Sandown this afternoon Ouzo (3.10) can follow up his win at Nottingham over a mile even though he is dropping back in trip this afternoon. The selection is 1lb “well-in” under his penalty and would appear vulnerable over 7f, but none of his five rivals appear in form at present although Facethepuckout was a winner for Joseph O’Brien in Ireland and the booking of Oisin Murphy catches the eye.
Herculean (3.45) was well backed before he was pulled out on account of the heavy ground at Haydock on Wednesday. The lightly-raced son of Frankel won on soft ground as a juvenile first time out and the hope is that the ground is not too tacky for Roger Charlton’s 4-y-old who has been gelded since his last run.
The Stuart Williams team could be in better form, but they did have a welcome winner at Windsor on Monday and I hope to see a big run from Rhythmic Intent (4.50) on his handicap debut. The each way selection was only beaten 3L by Surfman as a juvenile and the hope is that the step up to 10f will bring about further improvement although there are mixed messages on his breeding.
Valence has been gelded since his win at Beverley last month and a 6lbs rise for his win looks fair given the second has since franked the form. He looks a big danger.
In the finale I hope to see Spargrove (5.25) improve for the step up to 1m 6f for the first time. The selection finished second on his handicap debut at Southwell over 1m 3f and the colt is closely related to Group 2 winning stayer Marmelo.
4.50: Rhythmic Intent Each Way
At Goodwood this evening I am looking forward to the handicap debut of the well-bred Chartered (7.40) who carries just 8st 2lbs against her elders. The filly stumbled leaving the stalls and was not knocked about when 4th over 10f here last month and she promises to be more effective stepping up to a-mile-and-a-half for the first time.
Selino has finished runner up in both starts and may have to settle for second again as I hope it is a good evening in Sussex for Josie Gordon and Ralph Beckett who team up with both Chartered and Hereby (8.45). The selection ran well at Salisbury on debut when meeting trouble in running and she can leave that form well behind with that experience under her belt. The filly is out of the yard’s Oaks winner Look Here and connections will be very keen to get a win next to her name for breeding purposes.
At Aintree this evening Ashoka (8.05) should have the race run to suit with Flyingportrait likely to set a strong pace on ground, seemingly, softer than ideal for these “summer jumpers.” The Skelton team remain in top form and the selection has won on soft ground – albeit over hurdles – earlier in his career.