Saturday’s Ascot meeting is a precursor to the big Perth Cup meeting on New Year’s Day. On New Year’s Day, we will be bringing you a preview of the Perth Cup, along with a few other races around the country.
ASCOT Race 6 – 3yo Handicap (1400m)
The top weight 1 SHADES OF RIO has had the task of trying to run down two very talented and in form horses at his last two starts, being Petrol Power and Newton Prince. Granted he strikes an easier field here, but unfortunately it looks like he has run into another good one in 10 CRYSTAL GARDENS. Having drawn the widest gate makes it hard for him as he may end up behind 10 CRYSTAL GARDENS in running and we don’t think he can outsprint her.
Paul Harvey has elected to ride 2 BENITO ahead of 3 MAD BRAD. The former’s first three career starts have all been over 1000m and he steps up to the 1400m for the first time today. He will come across from his wide barrier and try to get to the front to give himself the best chance. We are just a bit concerned over the step up in distance for him today.
3 MAD BRAD saluted very easily in his maiden two starts ago then ran a good race last time in Saturday grade when he probably started under the odds. He is drawn ideally which should enable him to settle just behind the speed which will give him the best chance.
The pain still hasn’t eased from 10 CRYSTAL GARDENS’ last start defeat. She was a good thing beaten that day after being strung up behind runners. For a horse that likes to get out and run home strongly, barriers 2 and 4 at her first two starts haven’t helped her at all. Today in barrier 6 in only a 10 horse field, she should be able to settle nicely near midfield and in clear running. She will finish strongly and should be winning this.
10 CRYSTAL GARDENS looks very tough to beat here and we have him on top. The top three in the weights are the next best and should be included in multiples.
ASCOT Race 8 – 3yo+ Handicap (1400m)
This is a strange little race given that of the 14 runners there is not one regular leader. In race tactics will be very interesting to see how the field settles in running.
If we have to speculate, we think that 2 FORT COURAGE is likely to come across from his wide gate as he will be no chance in the race if he decides to drop back to last. His last performance was good when finishing runner up behind Credo at the midweeks. This is effectively only a midweek quality field and he looks a good chance today.
3 IT’S A BIT SHADY is another who has raced on the speed occasionally and may take up these tactics again. He has changed stables to the Adam Durrant team since his last campaign and has been given two trials to get him ready for his first up run today. He is a potential staying type so today’s 1400m is probably just short of his ideal distance, but given those two trials, he should be rock hard fit.
Promising stayer 9 YE OLDE ran a slashing race first up before looking a bit flat second up. This isn’t unusual for a staying type of horse and we are confident he can get his campaign back on track today. He is another who may be looking for a bit further than today’s distance, but the quality of the field isn’t high so he should be around the place. One concern is that the Luciani stable is ice cold and haven’t had a metropolitan winner for a very long time.
We have been following 14 NEXT CONTESTANT through this campaign and he looks to be a horse with plenty of talent. He finally gets a suitable barrier, which for him is a wide gate which allows him to have clear running. He has been horribly unlucky at both of his starts this preparation and probably should have won them both. We are slightly concerned at the lack of pace in the race given he is a run-on horse, but hopefully Carbery can settle him midfield with cover and come flying down the outside late.
We are giving 14 NEXT CONTESTANT one more chance given he should be able to stay out of trouble today. 2 FORT COURAGE looks hard to beat if he can get to the front and 3 IT’S A BIT SHADY can run well on debut for the Durrant stable.
THE TRIAL FILES’
SELECTIONS FOR ASCOT:
ASCOT Race 6 – 10 CRYSTAL GARDENS (win)
ASCOT Race 8 – 14 NEXT CONTESTANT (each way)