Going for Victory

Saturday 11th May, 2:40pm

Mostabshir @ 15/2
Pearle d’Or @ 15/2
Wizard Of Eye 
@ 9/1
Hickory @ 9/1
view odds

*prices correct at time of writing. 

On a Saturday of fiercely-competitive races on the flat and over jumps, the Lavazza and Ascot 10 Year Anniversary Victoria Cup (2-40) provides probably the biggest puzzle. They go seven furlongs for a £100,000 pot – a higher draw has frequently proved best, but in 2023 stall two housed the winner.

Mostabshir has not won since showing smart acceleration in a novices’ race at the 2023 Dante meeting, though he’s been aimed high so this mark might be lenient.

Pearle D’Or has never been out of the frame in three course and distance runs and is at the same weight level as when leading home his side of the course, before finishing third, in a similar race here in the autumn. Over one length ahead – having raced on the other side – and now three pounds worse off was Popmaster, another Ascot regular, which ran solidly over shorter last time.

The formbook has some decent entries for The Wizard Of Eye but he needs something of a revival having joined Fitzdares-sponsored Charlie Fellowes. Jumby has been plying his trade in Group races and was competitive at this kind of level back in 2022.

Fantastic Fox is down to seven-furlongs for the first time. Hickory (second behind Zero Carbon on the all-weather in April) is visored again, just like when twice placed over the C and D in the late summer/early autumn. Merlin The Wizard seems to have flourished more over a bit further. Ropey Guest, Bless Him and Rhoscolyn must almost know their ways to and from Ascot blind-folded as they’ve appeared here so many times, but, of the trio, only Bless Him has ever won at the track and that was over a mile.

John Gosden provided the last winner of Lingfield’s Oaks Trial (2-25) to go onto Epsom success – Anapurna (2019) – and this time the stable saddles one with stacks of star-potential in Danielle, the twelve-length winner of her debut turf race. Of those against her, Rubies Are Red is a sister of the legendary mare Found, and Royal runner Treasure made an encouraging, winning debut.  

Things went more smoothly at Chester as Aidan O’Brien sorts his Epsom squad, and he’ll glean further information in the Derby Trial (3-00). Although Ryan Moore rides Illinois, when he and The Euphrates were third and runner-up respectively at Leopardstown, the latter was really quite taking. Neither has competed on this going.

After the rain-soaked winter, jumping’s summer circuit is starting with gusto and Haydock’s Pertemps Network Swinton Hurdle (3-15) is brimming with fancied runners that will appreciate conditions. Considering stable form and a fine effort at Aintree, Luttrell Lad should be in the mix.

Earlier, at 1-35, Knowsley Road could build on his recent Taunton success which was easier than the distances indicate, and followed breathing procedure.

For me, two against the field in the Victoria Cup, both Ascot regulars, one from each side: Popmaster and Hickory – what about you?

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