Our first featured handicap of the week at Royal Ascot is this £65,000, two-and-a-half-mile marathon.
A good mixture of flat and National Hunt stables are involved, while the maximum 20-runner field keeps things as competitive as they should be. Here’s our top six:
Golden Rules is only a four-year-old with five runs under his belt and has at this point plenty to find on the numbers. However, from the beginning this horse has been in need of a trip and so it’s likely we will see a marked improvement in him today.
He was an eyecatcher when fourth on debut last summer over a mile-and-a-half before just failing to reel in Tyson Fury over the same trip, that horse being rated 103 at the time.
When going up to near 1m6f he was an easy winner on his third start, but clearly needed even further and so despite two fair efforts this season over that distance it’s clear we haven’t seen the best of him yet.
He was favourite to beat A Star Above last time out and on a line through that and his run behind Tyson Fury, it seems he can reach a mark of over 100 over a greater distance making him potentially very well handicapped for the Gosdens and Frankie Dettori now.
A slowly improving son of Dunaden, Just Hubert may appreciate not only this trip but also the drier conditions underfoot.
He was good at Haydock on his only start this season, finishing a 4¼-length third over two miles on heavy ground. He’s had enough time to recover from that and is one of very few to be proven in these conditions on the flat given that he was a 2½-mile handicap winner on good ground at Goodwood last year.
Plenty is expected of George Boughey’s two-year-olds at this meeting, but nobody should be overlooking this young stayer either.
This is only his fifth career start and that’s perhaps not ideal, but he’s gone through the line nicely over a mile-and-three-quarters with a step up in trip looking ideal. Whether going all the way up to this distance is truly suitable however we are yet to find out.
M C Muldoon
A long-time favourite for this event, mostly due to his representing the combination of jumps training champion Willie Mullins and jockey Ryan Moore.
Looking back at Mullins’s other big flat winners in the past, they tend to improve at a normal rate for a horse on the level. In this case, M C Muldoon will be expected to be better than the 97 performance he produced in 2018 for Peter Chapple-Hyam.
That was over a mile and so even more improvement could come about, hence the price, but that’s not guaranteed by any means and so while he is very much in the mix he looks a tad skinny in the market off a mark of 96.
Mark Johnston’s horse is just about a guaranteed stayer and his trainer is renowned for winning races of this nature at the major festivals.
Trumpet Man is consistent for sure; he finished last season with three wins and a second before beginning this year with a fair third in the Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh and a 3¼-length fifth in the Chester Cup.
He has the talent, the fight and the form with the only thing remaining being to decide on whether or not we think he can suddenly improve enough to win off a mark he has now been beaten off three times.
The Godolphin runner is another four-year-old and lightly-raced type. In this case, Saeed bin Suroor’s runner is taking a giant leap from 1½ miles to 2½ and that may either find him out or bring about extreme improvement. He’s interesting, but risky.
M C Muldoon may well prove to be too good if improvement can be coaxed from him on the flat following his recent third over hurdles, though he was a beaten favourite then.
Lostwithiel, Trumpet Man and Just Hubert are all interesting but a chance at these prices can be taken on John & Thady Gosden’s GOLDEN RULES.
He may be inexperienced, but Anthony Oppenheimer’s son of Golden Horn has been crying out for a trip since day one and it may well be that we truly see this horse come of age now under a jockey who can ride Ascot with his eyes firmly shut.