Horse Racing
Royal Hunt Cup (Handicap) - Form Comments

19/06/2018 17:14

1600m – Turf

1 Zhui Feng This free wheeling front-runner held off all comers for an excellent victory in this race last year. Also ran a cracker on his 2018 reappearance over 1400m here, just caught. His handicap mark is stiff now but he’s a real Ascot horse.
2 Love Dreams Busy of late including a front-running victory over 1400m at Goodwood last month but not sure he can repeat those tactics over this stiff 1600m. Plus two runs since that Goodwood win have not been nearly so good.
3 Mubtasim Steps up to 1600m for the first time. Has won three of his 12 starts and has run decently on both runs in 2018 latterly when runner-up in a Listed contest at Haydock. A closer, he finished third in the 1400m Jersey Stakes at this meeting in 2017.
4 Circus Couture A fairly prolific winner in Italy but Italian form is not strong at the moment and he hasn’t shown much in two starts in the UK.
5 Master Merion A rare US raider in a UK handicap and Ascot’s straight 1600m will be unfamiliar territory. However he has some smart form and ran well considering he stumbled leaving the gate when 4th in a G3 on the Arlington Park polytrack last time.
6 Flaming Spear Ideally suited by ground slower than good, conditions that saw him win a York handicap over 1575m last August. Hasn’t been seen since disappointing here at Ascot last October and has switched stables since.
7 Arcanada Ran one of his best races when fourth of 28 over this course and distance (soft ground) back in 2016. Back up to this distance after being unable to dominate in a Haydock Listed race last month, still performing respectably.
8 Tricorn James McDonald has been booked for the Gosden-trained Tricorn who is blinkered for the first time. Has shaped with promise on both starts this season and finished an excellent third in another Royal Ascot handicap last year.
9 Archetype Progressed well last season to win four times, mostly at this trip but proving versatile groundwise. Both his starts this year have been in France, running a close third under an aggressive ride in Listed company at Longchamp last month.
10 Afaak Posted a career-best last time when winning a prestigious York handicap (fast) over 1575m, always prominent before swooping.  Had a bit in hand there and the 6lb rise may not stop another good show. Ran well at this meeting in 2017.
11 Hors de Combat Came from the back to win a 1600m handicap at Meydan in February. Effective in this sort of race on fast ground and finished third in a big-field Royal Ascot handicap over the straight 1600m in his three-year-old days.
12 Gabrial This veteran – winner of 8 of his 80 starts – is ridden by another veteran in Frankie Dettori. Gabrial has failed to win in his last 29 starts but he likes the fast pace of these big field handicaps often finishing in the money.
13 Saltonstall Trainer won this with a similar type in 2016 and nominated this as a target after this gelding won a Curragh handicap over this distance last time, appearing to improve for tackling good ground – as opposed to slow ground – for the first time.
14 Goring Mostly competing on an all-weather surface lately including four straight handicap wins, over this distance. However he is five times a turf winner though he did struggle back on the grass last time.
15 Repercussion His problem is the ground with his best performances happening on good or slow conditions. He has run creditably in some top grade handicaps and the penalty earned for his Nottingham small-field win ensured he got into this famous race.
16 Tony Curtis Has not been at his best in his two starts this season, including over 1400m here at Ascot. More positively he is quite well handicapped on the basis of two fine close up efforts in top handicaps last season at Goodwood and Newmarket.
17 Firmament A regular in big field handicaps over 1400-1600m and, although yet to record an Ascot course win, has run several good races here in defeat including last time when 9th home on the unfavoured stands’ side. Nicely handicapped now.
18 Cape Byron Held a G1 Royal Ascot entry so connections must consider him highly. Led 250m out when winning over this course and distance (soft) last September. Well backed to win after a break at York last month, making late headway without threatening.
19 Raising Sand Has plenty of Ascot experience though the handicap he won here in 2017 was over the round 1600m. This five-times winner made late headway after a slow start in a  strong 1400m handicap here in May. This has been his target since.
20 Bless Him Won over this course and distance (fast) at Royal Ascot last year. Now 10lb above that winning mark but remains lightly raced. Soft ground against him on his return, but he will be fitter for that.
21 Settle For Bay Shot up the handicap with a sequence of wins on the all-weather at Dundalk and ran an eyecatching race when fourth  of 16 over 1400m on last month’s return to turf at Leopardstown.
22 Burnt Sugar Has a modest turf strike-rate of 2-36 but he did run better than his odds of 50-1 suggested when only 2.3L behind the winner in a 1400m handicap here last month. That good effort came on fast ground.
23 Escobar Has not run particularly well on his two previous starts at Ascot, but he did bounce back into winning form last Thursday when a fluent winner of a fast-ground handicap over 1610m at Haydock.
24 Medahim Down the field in another handicap over this distance at Royal Ascot last year. Promising efforts in both starts this season, latterly when a strong-finishing fourth of 14 in a Goodwood handicap after failing to get a clean passage up the rails.
25 What’s The Story Lightly-raced – often a good profile for this famous handicap – winning his third race from just ten starts when beating 12 rivals over this distance on Newcastle’s all-weather track earlier this month. He must carry a 5lb penalty for that.
26 Mukalal Last seen when winning a 1400m handicap here last October, leading from the gate that day. He has only raced eight times but six of the last ten winners had run fewer than ten times. Looks best on a good or slow surface.
27 Kynren Has won or been placed in all his six career starts, proven very effective at this distance and on quick and slow ground. Closing fast at the finish, he only just failed to win a strong handicap over this distance at Sandown last month.
28 Mountain Rescue Mostly competes over 1400m now but has won over this distance and further earlier in his career. Put his head down and battled hard to gain a handicap victory on fast ground at Newmarket last month.
29 Keyser Soze From a small stable who tasted Royal Ascot success last year and this lightly-raced gelding proved his liking for a straight track and this distance when third at Newbury in April. He needs to be delivered as late as possible.
31 Surrey Hope His two career wins on turf have both come at this distance. He also ran one of his best races – over a straight 1600m like this one – at Newbury in May.
32 Seniority Owned by The Queen and trained by someone who has had plenty of Ascot success. Seniority has won both his starts this year and was very impressive on the all-weather at Chelmsford last time. Chances if he gets into the race.
33 Perkunas Ran well in a handicap over this course and distance back in 2016. He then went missing for 690 days before toiling in his comeback run on the all-weather at Chelmsford this month.