Sprint ace Cowell has three against the field in classy handicap
Neptune Investment Management Handicap (Class 2) 3yo+ | 5f | RUK
Encore D'Or will have the assistance of Ryan Moore in the saddle as he bids to defy joint top weight in what looks a decent contest for the grade.
The son of Oasis Dream was fourth behind Spring Loaded in a similar heat earlier this month, while stablemate Evergate arguably ran better than 10th place suggests from the 'wrong' side of the draw in a race where the reopposing Polybius finished sixth.
Cowell's third runner is Blue De Vega, whose fourth placed effort in the Epsom Dash shows that his conversion to sprinting since joining from Michael O'Callaghan is a project worth pursuing.
Vibrant Chords by more than a nose?
Alongside Gracious John and Encore D'Or, the third horse to share a top-rating of 100 is Vibrant Chords, who was awarded a race at Sandown on his most recent start after a second viewing of the photo finish, having originally been called second to Rio Ronaldo by the judge.
That win has cost him a 4lb rise in the weights but Henry Candy's gelding cannot be discounted off only 3lb higher than when finishing a fine second in last September's Portland Handicap at Doncaster.
What they say
David Evans, trainer of Gracious John
He is probably a few pounds better on the all-weather but, if he takes to Ascot - which you never know beforehand - then he'd have a good chance. He still has to give away plenty of weight to those at the bottom and he probably isn’t quite good enough to step up a grade on turf. If he has a bad one, he has a bad one, that’s him. But he is in good nick at the moment.
Robert Cowell, trainer of Encore D’Or, Evergate and Blue De Vega
Encore D’Or ran a sound race the other day at Ascot where he may have been favoured by being on the slightly better side of the track. But I think he is on a winnable mark. Evergate was on the wrong side of the track in the same race but he looks in good form and is ready to bounce back. I think he he needs a bit of cover and there should be plenty of speed. Blue De Vega has ultimately been a bit disappointing but he shows a lot of speed on our gallops at home. One day he will get it right and hopefully it’s in a nice big race.
Clive Cox, trainer of Koditime
We probably took a step up in class the last twice and he is now back in handicap company. He’s not been blessed with the best draw at Sandown but his first run of the year at York was very promising. He wouldn’t want too much rain but he is a very solid top of the ground performer and competitive handicaps seem to be more the flavour of what we’re looking for with him.
Rae Guest, trainer of Show Stealer
She could have gone back to Bath but we thought it would be nice to have a crack at a good quality race at Ascot. She is in good form and, as long as it doesn’t rain - she just loves the fast ground - she’ll have a great chance. She is in good form and good heart.
Jim Goldie, trainer of Golden Steps
He seems fine and they trotted him up after the race that the vet ruled him out of at Hamilton and he was sound. I would imagine he could get a little bit outpaced but should be finishing well and this is a stiffer five so you would think it would be spot on. I’m looking forward to him running at Ascot.
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