The heavy rainfall on Thursday evening and throughout Friday completely changed the complexion of this entire meeting.
Every race will be a real test now, including this six-furlong cavalry charge, though a number in the line-up won’t mind it at worst and can thrive on it at best. Here are our shortlisted runners:
Keith Dalgleish’s four-year-old still has plenty to offer and is most certainly overpriced. A revelation on the all-weather, a very brief look at his form would have you believe he belongs in that sphere but you don’t have to go back far to see his impressive form with at least one very important runner in this field.
Last October, Aberama Gold beat King’s Lynn at Doncaster over six furlongs and on soft ground too. He went on to run Dakota Gold close in a Listed race on rain-softened ground before beginning his successful all-weather adventure and is still handicapped well enough to be competitive.
James Fanshawe’s Fresh has close form with Pendleton and is likely to be there or thereabouts once again.
Last time on the track he beat Michael Dods’s horse over this course and distance on good-to-soft, his rival going on to win well and land a gamble at York.
Fresh has been kept, well, fresh since then and his rate of improvement in just nine starts is very encouraging. He seems to handle the rain OK, although he hasn’t run on a surface quite like this one before, but any more progression sees him play a massive part in this race.
Win, lose or draw, King’s Lynn is the most interesting horse in this contest. Owned by the Queen, trained by Andrew Balding and ridden by Ryan Moore, he’s certainly high profile and looks to do a sort of ‘second division’ version of what Blue Point managed in 2019 when he won the King’s Stand and the Diamond Jubilee in the same week.
On Tuesday, King’s Lynn ran an excellent race to be 7th in the King’s Stand. The race was run on very fast ground, the pace was breakneck and it ended up suiting those who stay a bit further and/or came from off the pace.
King’s Lynn himself was at the rear, ran on very well and was denied a clear run which would have seen him finish around fourth in that Group 1 race.
The way the race was run meant that it was all about explosive energy and now, four days later, he’s more than likely to be fully recovered and ready to go again.
He took a step forward while learning on the job to get close to Aberama Gold on soft ground last season, has won on softish going since and appears very well handicapped considering he is pretty likely to at the very least reproduce the sort of level he ran to the other day and is in here off a mark of 105 (including his penalty).
Michael Dods is just about the most underrated trainer in the game. In 2019 his Pendleton won on the soft here at Ascot and ran a strong second on the heavy to Bielsa.
He missed 2020 but returned this year with a very close second to Fresh, as mentioned above, before winning easily last time at York in the rain. He’s improving, handles this track, trip and ground and represents a Group 1-winning sprint trainer.
Eve Johnson Houghton comes into this race looking to land a hat-trick after wins at Windsor (soft) and Haydock. He’s beaten some good types including Bielsa and is not out of this despite a 5lb rise in the weights.
Clive Cox knows his stuff when it comes to these speedy types and his Tis Marvellous can be considered a bona fide Ascot track specialist too.
He’s been gradually wound up this season towards this race, so expect an improved run, though very soft ground is just a little bit of a concern.
The form line involving Fresh and Pendleton is very interesting indeed. While the younger horse, kept off the track in readiness for this race, should be the obvious improver there is clearly plenty more to come from Pendleton who may go close.
The selection however is unlucky King’s Stand seventh KING’S LYNN. He has so much in his favour and when those rare times come that sprinters can run twice in the same week, they invariably run right up to their best.