Newmarket winner still looks well ahead of handicapper at Ascot
2pts winRipp Orf
2pts each-wayCold Stare
2pts winSometimes a horse can be improving so fast the handicapper simply can’t keep up no matter what he does and that could be the case when it comes toEscalatorin the Porsche Handicap (2.25) at Ascot.
There’s little doubt he faces his stiffest task to date as he’s up 10lb for his last-time-out success at Newmarket, but a new mark of 91 is only roughly where trainer Charlie Fellowes had hoped he’d be a month or two earlier.
Having shown plenty of promise when fifth in a good 1m2f novice at Kempton in March (won by Crossed Baton from Tigre Du Terre, now rated 108 and 105), there was always a chance he was going to be well treated off just 75 and he duly proved the point when dotting up at Doncaster last month having been backed from 10-1 in the morning to 4-1 by the off.
After that, Fellowes explained that he thought Escalator could be a Britannia horse, but had to lay off him in the spring following a setback.
Just 12 days later Escalator was back in action, though, and proved himself still way ahead of his mark when scoring comfortably by just over two lengths from Arigato, who was put up 4lb for his troubles but on Thursday turned a Sandown handicap into a procession, winning by six lengths.
Arigato will almost certainly be facing a rise of around 10lb himself now, so it’s worth remembering Escalator gave him a stone and toyed with him.
This is a good deal stronger race and there are plenty of dangers, with Crack On Crack On capable of better than his down-the-field Britannia effort if he can shed his habit of starting slowly, while George Of Hearts did not get the best of runs in the same race.
Corrosive is another big player as his head second to Ripp Orf last time was a decent effort, but I have a feeling Escalator has plenty more in the tank yet.
I’ll be going into the Gigaset International Stakes (3.00) on the back foot as, in their wisdom, connections of my ante-post punt Victory Wave have decided to head for Newmarket instead for a prize worth around £78k less to the winner and off a mark 6lb higher than she could have run off at Ascot.
I think she’ll win that Newmarket race (3.25), but won’t be tipping or backing her as it will hurt just as much if she wins as if she loses!
It was back to the drawing board for this 29-runner handicap and after going through the field again I can’t find fault withRipp Orf.
He is one of three market leaders at around 10-1, but the other two, Flaming Spear and Makzeem, are rated 105 and 103 and are unlikely to have 10lb or so in hand, while he might off just 92.
He won the Victoria Cup here in May and has continued to improve, running a hugely eyecatching second to Vintager at Newmarket last week.
The winner did score by four and a half lengths, but that tells only half the story as Ripp Orf was constantly denied a run and was about seven lengths down by the time he was pulled around the field to make his challenge.
That he managed to get past the rest under no more than hands and heels riding tells you he’s well ahead of his mark still.
His half-brother Speculative Bid, now rated 108, won the Victoria Cup in 2015 and two months later was a red-hot favourite for this race off a 10lb higher mark only to get planted at the start with his head over the stall next door.
He was originally declared a non-runner, but that was reversed later in the day, much to the chagrin of the layers who had already refunded.
Hopefully Ripp Orf can settle the score for his owners and hurt the bookies in the more traditional fashion today.
I will go two-handed in the race, though, with complete outsiderCold Stare.
He’s well out of left field given his last two starts, but he was actually put up 4lb to 101 after finishing close up in the Greenham on his return, when he showed plenty of promise.
There was obviously something amiss when he was last here next time, but I thought he ran better than the bare result when eighth conceding 15lb to Crack On Crack On in the Silver Bowl at Haydock next time as he was challenging strongly until not getting home.
He’s the sort who could blow out completely, but that’s why he’s a rag and with David O’Meara enjoying a really good summer, it’s a chance worth taking at 66-1.
Punting at York might be tricky as the potential for ground-changing thunderstorms is apparently greater there than it is down south, and that makes me worry about my long-term Sky Bet Dash (2.40) fancy, Harome, as he’s been flying on really quick ground recently and won’t want it to ease.
I’m going to give that race a swerve until conditions are known, but one who won’t mind what the weather does isGet Knottedin the Sky Bet Britain’s Most Popular Online Bookmaker Handicap (2.05).
He has won this race for the last two years and did so easily on good to soft last year. He is only 1lb higher now and has bounced back to form with three really good course runs in a row, and he’s arguably more solid than the long-absent Culturati.
Finally, one horse I’ll definitely be backing at Newmarket isKimifiveforin-form Joe Tuite in the Heath Court Hotel Employeee Award Handicap (4.00).
He has just over five lengths to find with Stormbringer from when they were second and sixth in a valuable sprint handicap at the July meeting, but Kimifive was simply on the wrong side of the track and actually won his race by two lengths. I’d fancy him to finish a lot closer even without the 8lb turnaround.
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