A few of these ran in the Ascot Stakes (Handicap) at the Royal meeting with Elysian Flame faring best of those who run again today. Mick Easterby's dual purpose five year old couldn't quite match the finishing kick of the front two on that occasion though he lost very little in defeat and kept on for an honourable third. Still relatively unexposed on the flat and with a fairly consistent profile now, he looks a very big player if getting the gaps and is expected to go very well once more.
Trainer Ian Williams has saddled the winner of this on three different occasions since the turn of the century, he saddles two this time around although there can be little doubt that, The Grand Visir is the most interesting. Too far back when powering home into third at Ascot was followed up with a fine second last time at Sandown in a Listed event. Tough and consistent, you rather feel he deserves to get his head back in front and he did run a big race when fourth in this last term. Granted a little bit of luck and a strong pace to aim at, his chance looks as good as any.
Platform Five returned from a 648 day absence when hacking up at Beverley last time, prior to that he must have suffered a physical setback when running no sort of race at Ascot although it is worth bearing in mind that he has now won five of his last six starts. Attempting to put a solid number on him is difficult and although he is clearly an eye catching type, this is by far the toughest test he has ever faced.
Just Hubert is one pound below his last winning mark but arrives here in terrible form, strictly speaking I would usually feel inclined to leave his type well alone although he was hardly in sparkling form when winning last year's renewal and he does like this track.
Arguments for the likes of Withold, Rochester House and Smart Champion are easy enough to make although we shall split our vote between the much improved Elysian Flame and course specialist Just Hubert.
ELYSIAN FLAME (E/W)
JUST HUBERT (E/W)
written by Chris Connolly