Gigaset International Stakes (Heritage Handicap) 7f Ascot Saturday – With Saturday’s feature, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes looking like a shoe in for Roger Varian’s short priced favourite, Postponed, our best chance of tipping a decent priced winner on an excellent Ascot Card is to nail the victor of the £150,000 “International”.
Mark Johnston has a great record in the contest with three winners, all 4yo’s, but with a trio of lowly rated 3yo’s this year he will need plenty above them in the handicap to come out to even have a runner. The man with the next best record in the race with two winners, is fellow Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey, and anything from this yard demands plenty of respect.
His course specialist, and last year’s winner, Heaven’s Guest, won the 2015 renewal off a mark of 103 on soft ground and gets into Saturday’s contest on only 1lb higher. He has also won over course and distance, as a 3yo, again on easy ground, but showed that fast ground wasn’t a problem when going down by 3/4L in a Class2 at headquarters off Saturday’s mark of 104 fourteen days ago.
The Brian Ellison trained Balty Boys was a head behind Heavens Guest in last year’s race and reappears on 6lbs better terms but has failed to impress in three outings this season. However he has been campaigned over further and it wouldn’t surprise to see him play a more prominent role returned to 7f.
Another of the Fahey contingent, Right Touch, demonstrated his wellbeing when winning over 6f at Chester two weeks ago off a mark of 95. Badly drawn, he stayed on well to lead in the last 50yards on the soft ground. He has won over the course, (6f Gd/Sft ) last September, and has a victory over the distance (Ayr 7f good) in the same month. His form is mildly progressive so given ground no faster than good is worth considering off Saturdays mark of 98.
The Stuart Williams trained Suzi’s Connoisseur showed the benefit of his first run for eight months when coming home strongly at Newmarket fifteen days ago to get within 3/4L of Swift Approval (7f Gd/Fm) off a mark of 98 under Oisin Murphy. He acts on any ground, so again partnered by the talented Irishman, and racing off 97 looks one for the shortlist.
The Michael Dodds trained Glen Moss ran a great race in the 6f Wokingham handicap at the Royal Meeting, beaten less than 2L in third off a mark of 100, and confirmed the progress when taking a conditions event at Haydock a fortnight later. Back up to 7f, a distance he has won over four times, and with Ryan Moore down to ride he looks a danger to all, but his new mark of 105 does look challenging.
Considering his relative lack of experience Librisa Breeze was a very well backed 8/1 shot for the Royal Hunt Cup and ran a blinder. He came with a strong looking challenge one furlong out but didn’t last home, and finished second off a mark of 97. While the evidence from his four outings on turf would suggest that this 4yo colt requires easy ground to perform to his optimum, it is worth remembering that All Weather performers (and Librisa Breeze has won three times on an artificial surface) adapt well to Ascot’s straight course.
The James Tate trained 5yo Braxos needs a few above him in the handicap to come out in order to get a run but the 3lbs penalty he incurred for winning at Doncaster (7f Gd/Fm) on July14th has certainly helped his cause. Racing off a mark of 89 he held on by a nose from Regal Dan and runs on Saturday off 92. He did win over course and distance two years ago off a mark of 95, so the weekend’s Mark may not be insurmountable.
Mick Channon’s 4yo colt Bossy Guest ran well in the Hunt Cup, finishing 6th, less than 3L behind the winner, despite an interrupted passage. He also ran a Corker in last years Group3 Jersey stakes over course and distance, finishing 3rd, 1 1/4L behind the classy Dutch Connection. He disappointed last time at Newmarket fourteen days ago but wouldn’t be the first to bounce back from a poor display in that race at Headquarters.
Selection: Suzi’s Connoisseur
E.W. : Right Touch