Four to follow across the day's meetings
King retains his sparkle
Portrait King is best known for his efforts in marathon handicaps over fences but trainer Patrick Griffin has found the gelding an intriguing opportunity for his first run of the season in the Racing Partnerships Novices' Hurdle (2.25) at Hexham.
The 12-year-old retains plenty of sparkle having finished in third place in the Topham Trophy over the National fences in April before finishing out of the money in the Scottish National.
“We had rather emptied the tank by the time he got to the Scottish National but he’s absolutely marvellous after having a long break,” said Griffin.
“The conditions of the race suit him and I wish I had been able to get a run into him. But he is fresh and well in himself and we’re expecting a good run.”
Goal bids to strike at Ascot
Golden Goal steps into unknown territory when tackling Ascot’s straight mile in the Neptune Investment Management Classified Stakes (2.35), having made all of his previous four starts on the Polytrack at Chelmsford.
Three of those were winning efforts, most recently when dead-heating with Almoreb under today’s rider, Paddy Bradley.
Almoreb went on to boost that form when chasing home Ayrad at Salisbury last time and if Golden Goal takes to the forecast good to soft conditions, he could well be on an upward curve.
Bengal on the prowl
Since trainer Ian Williams stepped up Bengal Lancer to 7f earlier in the season, the Hellvelyn gelding has compiled a pair of wins and two seconds in four starts, the last three of them under today's jockey Manuel Fernandes.
Williams is looking for the three-year-old to continue to improve in the Troy Asset Management Handicap (4.20) at Ascot.
“I was very pleased with his run last time at Doncaster where I thought he came up against a horse who looked potentially Group class in a handicap [Lahore],” he said.
“He did well against the rest of the field and I am looking forward to him hopefully progressing again at Ascot.”
Du Pont heads Fontwell squad
Adrien Du Pont is arguably the pick of a strong Paul Nicholls squad heading to Fontwell. He proved to be just below the very best of his generation over hurdles but shaped as if fences would be the making of him when a close-up third in a Grade 1 at Auteuil last November.
The five-year-old makes his chasing debut in the Performance Foundations Novices' Chase (2.45), a race Nicholls has farmed in four of the last six seasons.
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