ANOTHER CRACKING SPRINT AT ASCOT
The hot spell looks set to break this morning at Ascot with rain forecast and possible thunderous showers.
Both our selections in the International Stakes Handicap will not mind any rain and arrive today off the back of career best efforts.
Matthew Flinders is thrown in on handicap terms with Oisin Murphy back in the plate. Ed Walkers charge bombed out here in the Royal Hunt Cup but proved that run all wrong with a solid second behind Safe Voyage at Chester at listed level. The handicapper has raised him to a new mark of 108 but as this is an early closing race Matthew Flinders is allowed race off his old mark of 98. Ed Walker has always rated his horse and believes he is better than a handicapper. This is a big chance as he is well drawn high in stall 20 and will not mind the showers around this morning.
At the start of this season, he finished third in the spring mile behind runner up Danyah and winner Nugget. Nugget went on to finish an unlucky second in the Thirsk Hunt Cup while Danyah finished second in the Buckingham Palace Stakes. Today, Matthew Flinders is 7lbs better off against Danyah and is expected to reverse their Spring Mile placings. He can race freely so Oisin will be at pains to settle him out the back so he will need a bit of luck in running to slice through the field at the finish.
There has been no 3yo winner of this race in the last ten renewals, but I am still backing Star Of Orion. Both Arbalet and Mjjack finished runner up in this race as 3yo’s, so it is possible with the right type. You had to be impressed by how Star of Orion quickened out of the dip at Newmarket last Saturday to scoot clear. Ron Hornby eased him over the line, and it was impressive following a below par run in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot. That Britannia stakes run was a rare blip from this consistent performer when drawn on the wrong side anyways.
Last season on Irish Champions weekend, Star of Orion was unlucky not to win the big 2yo sales race when flashing home too late over 6.5 furlongs missing out by a short head. It looks like seven furlongs suits and this stiff seven is ideal. He picked up a 3lb penalty for winning at Newmarket but Laura Pearson claims off 5lbs leaving him 6lbs well in on his current mark of 98. Star of Orion has been drawn in stall 15 so is well placed to head towards the stands side and should be fine if the heavy showers arrive on Saturday morning.
Ascot - 3:00
0.5 Point Each Way Matthew Flinders 11/2 William Hill paying 7 places.
0.5 Point Each Way Star of Orion 15/2 William Hill paying 7 places.