Our suggestion for the 2000gns, Gleneagles, did us proud last week winning at the rewarding odds of 4/1, but I have to admit that Saturday’s wide open Victoria Cup, presents a much thornier problem to solve. As only two horses above the age of five have managed to win in the past decade, sticking to four or five year olds, is probably advisable.
Winning, or at least going close at the specialist distance of 7f has been essential, as has good recent form. Top weights have a particularly poor record, which enables us to leave Hughie Morrison’s Chill The Kite out of the picture.
One that catches the eye, with the evergreen Kieran Fallon in the plate, is the Michael Attwater trained 5yo entire, Professor. A course and distance winner in May 2013, He also ran a blinder at the course last June when finishing second off a mark of 108 in a Cl2 handicap over 6f. Racing on Saturday off 102 He doesn’t look badly treated, and is one for the short list.
Another course and distance winner, is the Jeremy Noseda trained Outback Traveller. He hosed up over course and distance in a 3yo handicap last October off a mark of 93, and showed what progress had been made over the winter, when just collared in the final stride by Speculative Bid, on his reappearance on the Kempton A.W over seven furlongs off a mark of 105. Just 2lbs higher, and 1lb better off with Speculative Bid at the weekend, this very progressive animal is another to consider.
Speculative Bid is himself clearly progressive and comes strongly into the argument on the Kempton form. He has now won his last two races, both over 7f, strongly suggesting that this is ideal distance, so with Jamie Spencer, who is riding so well at the moment, doing the steering, He is another to consider.
The Ed Dunlop trained 4yo Zarwaan gives the impression that Saturday’s trip might well suit. He was quietly fancied for the Lincoln, and ran a fine race to finish sixth, but didn’t seem to quite get home. He also ran well over the track in a 1ml 30 runner handicap, finishing a highly creditable fifth, only 2L behind the winner, off a mark of 101. His runs in the Lincoln, and at Ascot demonstrate his ability to cope with the demands of a large field handicap so off a mark of 102 his chance has to be respected.
Another course and distance winner is the Richard Fahey trained 5yo Heavens Guest, who showed his wellbeing when cozily taking a Thirsk conditions event three weeks ago. His course and distance win was back in 2013, but he put up another fine performance last October when finishing third, off Saturday’s mark off 105 over course and distance. With the very useful 5lb claimer Jack Garrity riding on Saturday, He is one to keep an eye on.
David O’Meara’s 5yo So Beloved ran a fine race on his reappearance in a Thirsk handicap three weeks ago, when going down by 1/2L to One Word More. As he meets the winner on a pound better terms there should be very little between them at the weekend, but it is interesting that So Beloved is stable jockey Tudhope’s selection from the yards three entries.
Peter Chapple-Hyam’s 5yo Buckstay, was backed in to favourite in a 1ml Newbury handicap last time out, but got no sort of run, and as a result gets to race off the same mark of 94 here. His previous 2nd at Doncaster was a run full of promise, and did suggest that He would not be inconvenienced by a drop back to 7f.
Selection: Speculative Bid.