Given the weather we've had on Friday and with it unlikely to relent on Saturday I can only imagine by the last race the ground is going to be bitterly desperate.
The two Nicky Henderson trained horses of Time Flies By and Buzz are vying for favouritism at the head of the market. Buzz was very impressive last time out here at Ascot and looked as if jockey Nico De Boinville was ensuring he held a lot back and didn't want to let the six year old go until the last hurdle. Although he has an obvious chance he's been burdened with an additional 11lbs this time around and as always in these type of handicaps it's going to be very hard to win whilst carrying top weight.
The aforementioned JP McManus owned Time Flies By makes more appeal, especially if we see any big hitting punters putting their money down. Despite filling the spot as current favourite I don't think the form shows much and up against more experienced types on his handicap debut he seems worth taking on especially as he's never tackled a large field like this.
One of the two I'm opting for is a horse that comes with plenty of risk attached. NOT SO SLEEPY is worth one more go after disappointing of late. Let's get the bad points out the way first. He refused to jump the first hurdle last time out in the Fighting Fifth he still did decide to complete the course, albeit without the jockey. He wouldn't have liked the good ground that day but he has raced in very competitive top-class races.
All the above being said however he's won his last two races at this track coming on both soft and heavy ground. He will relish these conditions and just as long as it's not a standing start we should see him bowl along at the front. His front running tactics could see him stretch this field out and ensure some of his rivals are out of their comfort zone. Wether they'll be able to peg him back only time will tell but at around 18/1 and with some bookmakers paying six places he should finish in the money if he's able to employ his prefered running style.
Fields like this you can usually make a case for a handful and this race is no exception. At big prices I couldn't put anyone off the lowly weighted Night Edition who is another who is proven on testing ground. With such a large field I'm going to take a bold step and give an alternative to my Hughie Morrison trained tip. MASTER DEBONAIR has the advantage of winning here at Ascot on heavy ground before. That success came in a Grade 2 event beating the well fancied Time Flies By. His 33/1 price tag with some bookies seems ludicrous and although his yard isn't in the best of form his price is far too tempting. NOT SO SLEEPY (E/W)
MASTER DEBONAIR (E/W)
written by Luke Tucker