Olivier can take centre stage
Channel 4 commentator Simon Holt picks out his best bets from Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot.
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No jockey in recent times has enjoyed more success at Ascot than Frankie Dettori who looks to have a strong chance aboard SWAN SONG in the opening 'Dash' at Saturday's Shergar Cup meeting.
Third in this race last year (when ridden by Lisa Allpress), Andrew Balding's mare has improved this season, beating Masamah by a length at Chester and then finishing a creditable fifth behind Caspian Prince at Epsom on Derby Day.
- 1pt win Swan Song in 1255 Ascot at 11/2 (General) - third last year, she looks an improved performer and has a top jockey in the saddle
- 1pt win Dark Emerald in 1440 Ascot at 13/2 (Sky Bet) - highly progressive this season and the form of his Haydock second has been franked
- 1pt Olivier Peslier to win the Silver Saddle in the Shergar Cup at best morning price - top French rider has plenty of experience at Ascot and a good book of rides
In a particularly tight handicap, in which the selection looks closely weighted with the likes of Addictive Dream, Masamah and Racy, I am banking on Swan Song's freshness and scope for further improvement, as well as having a top Ascot jockey in the saddle, to make all the difference.
Victory would certainly bring back a few happy memories for Dettori who partnered Swan Song's dam Lochsong to nine memorable triumphs in the early 90s including a Nunthorpe and two victories in the Prix de l'Abbaye.
Perhaps the biggest threat will be the in-form Goldream who had a stiff task when second to the progressive Muthmir at York last time. The five-year-old has been most consistent this season for trainer Robert Cowell, who again proved his prowess with speedsters when landing last week's Stewards Cup with Intrinsic, and has drawn a good jockey in Australian Craig Williams.
However, it's possible that Goldream is slightly better over six furlongs.
Later, DARK EMERALD could be a good ride for Olivier Peslier in the Mile.
The grey has been highly progressive this season winning over this trip at Lingfield and then following up at Newmarket (7f), and his Haydock second to Heavy Metal early last month now looks strong form with the winner going onto win and run second in two major handicaps and third-placed Alejandro scoring at York.
Top weight Tenor is one of the most improved horses in training but went up 11lb in the ratings after his listed race second at Pontefract last time, and this looks a stiffer task.
In terms of the top rider's award (for the Silver Saddle), Dettori and Peslier should feature prominently but, with the Frenchman boasting other good mounts in Move In Time, Hassle, Bantam and Our Gabrial, he is fancied to follow the example of his compatriot Gerald Mosse who easily took the title 12 months ago.
Peslier has long experience of Ascot and has won big races on the track aboard the likes of Ouija Board, Equiano and, perhaps most notably, Harbinger who thrashed his rivals by 11 lengths in the 2010 King George.