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John Oxx's Saddler’s Rock can prove the each-way best to succeed in Ascot Gold Cup
Fame And Glory may be a red-hot favourite to repeat his success of 12 months ago in the Ascot Gold Cup, but Saddler’s Rock is fancied to topple him in tomorrow’s Royal Ascot feature.
There is no doubt Fame And Glory is a worthy market leader. Not only did he win this race last year, he followed up on the course in the staying race on Champions Day last October. Plenty will want to back him at even money, but the 5-1 currently on offer for Saddler’s Rock makes even greater appeal, especially as an each-way proposition.
Like Fame And Glory, who is trained by Aidan O’Brien, Saddler’s Rock comes from Ireland. Handled by John Oxx, who has always thought the world of him, he was a decisive winner of last season’s Doncaster Cup.
Narrowly beaten at Leopardstown on his comeback run earlier this month, he should be all the better for that outing. An up-and-coming star of the staying division, Saddler’s Rock is the best-value alternative to Fame And Glory.
The nap vote goes to Morawij in the opening Norfolk Stakes.
Roger Varian’s highly-prized colt made a winning debut at Haydock and is now dropped back to five furlongs from six, which should suit him.
He is up against some useful types. Ahern, trained near Thirsk by David Barron, was impressive on his debut at Musselburgh and Reckless Abandon was a runaway winner for Clive Cox at Doncaster. But Morawij is not short on talent or potential himself.
The second, third and fourth from the Epsom Oaks cross swords in the Ribblesdale Stakes and it would be no surprise to see Vow, who finished fourth at Epsom and did not appear suited by the course, turn the tables on Shirocco Star and The Fugue, who were second and third.
William Haggas, trainer of Vow, also has good prospects with Fast Or Free in the Britannia Handicap.
At Ripon, Gassin Golf is fancied to follow up his recent Haydock success.
Newmarket trainer Sir Mark Prescott has adopted a patient policy with the three-year-old, but there was much to like about his latest winning performance. Gassin Golf deserves every respect under a 6lb penalty in the Kevan Jon Occasion & Bridal Wear Handicap.
The SIS live Claiming Stakes has attracted a useful field of sprinters – none better known to Ripon race fans than Tajneed.
David Nicholls’ gelding is four-times a course winner and, in 2008, won the prestigious Great St Wilfrid Handicap.
The Beaumont Robinson Ladies’ Derby has been divided and the two horses who fought out a tremendous finish at Newcastle three weeks ago may provide the answer to both legs.
The Patrick Holmes-trained Coax, a head second at Newcastle, can clinch the first division and Politbureau, the Newcastle winner trained by Mick Easterby, is taken to clinch the second round.
Royal Ascot (tomorrow)
2.30 Morawij (NAP), 3.05 Vow, 3.45 Saddler’s Rock, 4.25 Fast Or Free, 5.00 Tales Of Grimm, 5.35 Mysterious Man.
2.10 Bircham, 2.45 Tajneed, 3.20 Gassin Golf, 4.00 Lieutenant Kojak, 4.35 Coax, 5.10 Captain Scooby, 5.40 Eastward Ho, 6.10 Politbureau.
Tomorrow’s other meetings
Ffos Las, Fontwell, Leicester and Warwick.
Ascot, Hamilton, Kempton, Ripon and Worcester.