Among a line-up of exciting races on Saturday is the 3.55 at Ascot where some cracking 20f specialists take each other on. Cyrname won lasts time as though a long string of jumping jacks tied to his tail had ignited at the off. If that was his true form (a yard spokesman said they had altered his training regime) they won’t catch him here. If it was a reaction to the change of regime, then the effects need to have been maintained. Lastly, when horses win the way he did, they can take an awful lot out of themselves without it being obvious on the day.
One I fear much more is Waiting Patiently who looked to be right on the road to the top before suffering an injury after winning this race last year (or, more possibly to my mind, during the race itself: I wrote at the time that the sudden slow down and lurch right after jumping the last suggested he might have gone wrong).
Anyway, he returned in the King George but was brought down long before the race got serious though not before we could see that he looked very well and travelled through the early part much as he had done before his layoff. He will be very hard to beat here and if he does run – there are two drying days forecast and his trainer has said she will not run him on good ground; it’s currently good to soft – he will take some beating. I’ll have a third of my stake on him if he turns up.
The other two-thirds will go on Aso who really impressed me last time at Cheltenham where he carried 11.12 to an easy victory, idling noticeably on the run in. He gave 21lbs to Happy Diva in 2nd that day. She’s a mare I like and she has won since as has the runner up in Aso’s Newbury race.
Aso is 9, but he is improving and has run the two best races of his life (on Racing Post Ratings) this season. Some of the improvement might have come from a change of tactics. His first victory of the season saw him make all. Last time at Cheltenham he took it up at the 8th and was never headed, nimble, efficient jumping playing a large part in energy conservation and establishing a rhythm.
It’ll be interesting to see of he tries to lead on Saturday as the race is not short of horses happy to race prominently. On ratings, at worst, he is 7lbs below Waiting Patiently and that does not merit a 16/1 price tag for a good horse on a hat-trick. He is only 20/1 for the Ryanair at the festival, a race he finished 3rd in in 2017.
I’d have him an 8/1 chance for Saturday; at twice that price he has to be the main selection.
Bet365 and a few others have him at 16/1 currently. It’s money back if your horse doesn’t run as it’s a 48hr declaration race. Waiting Patiently is 7/4. That ought not to change much so I’d wait and see if he runs before having that 33% of stake on. If he doesn’t run, I’ll be all in on Aso.