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Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

International angles: pointers and trainer views for the day's big betting heat

Spanish City (left): travels to Ascot for the Gigaset International in top shape
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3.00 Ascot
Gigaset International Stakes | 7f | ITV/RUK

Varian eyes big run from Spanish City

This contest is an always ferociously competitive cavalry charge which has proved a bit of a bogey race for punters.

Over the last ten years winners have been returned at 50-1, 40-1 and 33-1 (twice), with the only favourite to oblige being Librisa Breeze two years ago at 4-1.

Spanish City is unlikely to start favourite, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he proved highly popular and started at single-figure odds as he has the right profile for a race of this nature.

He landed handicaps at Newcastle and Doncaster this season before finishing an excellent second to Burnt Sugar in Newmarket’s prestigious Bunbury Cup.

That looked a career-best performance from the five-year-old, who could have more to offer with his confidence sky high.

Trainer Roger Varian said: “Spanish City ran a huge race in the Bunbury Cup, having raced without cover for a long way, and he performed well over the course and distance in the Victoria Cup previously.

“He looks handicapped to win a big pot like this, but he’s definitely best on fast ground and wouldn’t want the thunderstorms to materialise. He’s in good form.”

Flaming Spear another for red-hot Bloom?

Owner Tony Bloom has enjoyed considerable success in big handicaps of late with the victory of Withhold in the Northumberland Plate and Stratum’s JLT Cup win at Newbury last Saturday.

Flaming Spear, who also races in the increasingly familiar colours of the Brighton & Hove Albion saviour, caught plenty of eyes when fifth of 30 behind Settle For Bay in the Royal Hunt Cup last month on his first start for Dean Ivory, and returns to the Berkshire track to challenge for this furlong-shorter race.

Ivory, who also saddles Lucymai, was happy with that Ascot run from Flaming Spear, but sounded a warning, saying: “I’m a bit concerned about the ground for both of them. Flaming Spear has had one only run for me and I’m still getting to know him, but we’re always hopeful.”

Oh This Is Us can outrun huge odds

It’s often said you need a Listed or Group horse to win top-grade handicaps. Oh This Is Us, winner of two Listed events over 7f, is a class act on his day, and comes here in tip-top form, yet rates a general 33-1 shot with the bookmakers.

His trainer Richard Hannon said: “It was great to see him get his head back in front at Chester, and that will have done his confidence a great deal of good. We were going to go to Goodwood with him, but the owners were keen to come here, and I’m sure he’ll give them a good run for their money. He arrives here in the form of his life.”

What the others say

Roger Fell, trainer of Burnt Sugar
If it rained at Ascot we’d have a much better chance. When he won at Newmarket last time he had good ground, and that’s what he probably needs. He was great last time, but the ground will probably be too quick for him.

Richard Fahey, trainer of Brian The Snail, Gallipoli, Right Action, Zap and Clubbable
Brian The Snail is in great form. He’s working well, but always does at home. William Buick felt 7f would suit after he ran in the Wokingham. Zap beat Gallipoli at Newmarket last time – the track and trip should suit Zap, and he’s in great form. I’ve stuck blinkers on Gallipoli as he threw that Newmarket race away. If the headgear helps he’ll run well. Any rain would be in Right Action’s favour, and the drop to 7f from a mile on this track should really suit Clubbable. She’s a wonderful mare.

Hugo Palmer, trainer of Arbalet
He's versatile as far as the ground is concerned, but behaved like an idiot at Chester last time when favourite for a Listed race and was a non-runner. If he behaves I think he’ll be right there. He's already shown a liking for the Ascot course and distance.

Ed Walker, trainer of Ultimate Avenue and Sabador
Ultimate Avenue is exceptionally talented and remains a work in progress. He's undergone two wind ops – the first wasn’t successful, but the second seems to have worked. He's bred to stay further than the 6f he's been racing over, so now we’ve got his breathing fixed a stiff 7f at Ascot should be ideal. Fast ground is what he wants. He'll win one of these big handicaps. I can’t believe the price of Sabador. He ran a massive race in the Victoria Cup, and Chester simply didn’t suit him last time. This has been the plan since and I think he’s over-priced.

Ian Williams, trainer of Shady McCoy
He ran a blinder at Newmarket last time, and a repetition of that form would put him somewhere near. He wouldn’t want too much rain, but he goes there in good form and I’m sure he’ll run a big race.

John Gosden, trainer of Il Primo Sole
He ran a good race with plenty of weight in the Britannia – on the weights he was the best horse in the race.

Clive Cox, trainer of Louie De Palma
He ran a nice race at Windsor and would appreciate any rain.

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He ran a huge race in the Bunbury Cup, having raced without cover for a long way, and he performed well over course and distance in the Victoria Cup
E.W. Terms
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