Friday, October 28, 2022

Ascot's Bateaux London Gold Cup 2022

Following trips to Ludlow and Worcester - and a few ill-advised flirtations with the Flat - I've returned from my summer recess a little later than intended, distracted somewhat by the ongoing political brouhaha; to quote Alice Thompson using a Carrie Fisher quotation in The Times on Wednesday: 

'"Things are getting worse faster than I can lower my standards."'

Thirteen have been declared for the Bateaux London Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot tomorrow (3.15) where the going is currently good to soft.

Major Dundee, a fine third in the Scottish National at Ayr last time out, was chalked up favourite earlier in the week; trainer Alan King has said:

"I am also pleased how well Major Dundee did through the summer. He has strengthened up but needs a race before his first major target, the Coral Gold Cup [formerly the Hennessy], after which he could go to Warwick for the Classic Chase and possibly have a second trip to Ayr for the Scottish National."

To date Major Dundee has contested just two of his 13 starts at right-handed tracks (Ludlow and Kempton) and was well beaten on both occasions.

Earlier this afternoon Our Power joined Major Dundee at the head of the market. 

Most of his chase form is around two and a half miles; on a first attempt at three miles last February he finished third behind Cap Du Nord and Kitty's Light in the Coral Trophy at Kempton (Good Boy Bobby seventh and Annsam pulled up). Sam Thomas' charge subsequently finished fifth behind Corach Rambler in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival (Tea Clipper fourth, Full Back thirteenth and Rapper eighteenth), appearing to lose his pitch two out. To my mind Ascot's stiff uphill finish isn't going to help the cause.

Tea Clipper has yet to win over three miles. Last time out at Chepstow three weeks ago, he was headed on the run-in by Peregrine Run over a trip of two miles seven and a half furlongs (Kitty's Light sixth).

Up The Straight tries this trip for the first time under rules and the majority of Danny Kirwan's form is also around the two and a half mile mark but, by way of contrast, Annsam is a course and distance winner. 

Evan Williams has his team in fine form; here's what he had to say about Annsam in a recent Racing Post stable tour:

"I'd like to get a run under Annsam's belt quietly to blow the cobwebs away as he's a big, raw, strong horse. He's in a race at Ascot on Saturday but I'm not in love with going there. That said, he'll need a run because if he's too fresh he can be very, very bullish. He lost all chance when making a terrible early mistake in the old Racing Post Chase [Coral Trophy] last season but that was because I left him too fresh. He could be a horse, if he progresses, for the Coral Gold Cup or Grand National. He's lovely, still young and raw, but with a bit of luck I wouldn't rule out those good races. He's definitely got the ability."

The last time Full Back appeared at Ascot he didn't jump well behind Remastered in the Reynoldstown but the stable has a good recent record in this event, having won with Antony (2016), Traffic Fluide (2018) and Larry (2021). 

There's a suspicion top weight Good Boy Bobby prefers racing left-handed; in the past ten years only Traffic Fluide has carried more than 11-3 to victory.

Regal Encore loves this track and won the 2020 renewal off 145 - with Mister Malarky a distant sixth. 

Anthony Honeyball's charge is a credit to connections and goes off 136 this time - just two months shy of his fifteenth birthday. 

Mister Malarky, a course and distance winner with a mind of his own, was a distant fifth behind Larry last year but has appeared a tad more tractable on two appearances for new connections. His chance wouldn't be dismissed if in the mood.

Poppa Poutine has won at the trip and had a pipe opener at Perth five weeks ago. He likes to race up with the pace but faces a stiff enough task.

Kitty's Light is only six years old but ran some brave races in defeat last season. 

Not the biggest of individuals, he is generally given a hold-up ride in an attempt to avoid early scrimmaging and then allowed to work his way into a race. 

The first part of that plan was carried out to perfection at Chepstow three weeks ago behind Peregrine Run but, unfortunately, the second part failed to materialise completely - Christian Williams' charge was beaten some 40 lengths. The handicapper relented (somewhat) and dropped him two pounds to a mark of 142.

Searching for an elusive each-way wager, two make the short list - Full Back and Kitty's Light.

At the time of writing the former is generally a 9/1 chance while layers quote Kitty's Light 11/1 (five places) and 12/1 (four places).

I'm hoping that Chepstow run three weeks ago has blown away the cobwebs. 

Kitty's Light is the each-way suggestion, 11/1 with Sky who are paying one fifth the odds five places. 

And a frustrating footnote to finish on. Sam Brown appears overpriced at 25/1 in the Charlie Hall; unfortunately there are only five runners...