Ribbons an Ascot gift
Man On The Spot previews Saturday's terrestrial TV action from Ascot, Lingfield and Haydock.
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L'Unique defied a big weight to win well over 2m4f at Sandown two weeks ago but is stepping into unknown territory over this trip and has another 7lb to carry. Kris Spin has been climbing the weights despite not winning but never seems to run a bad race and this longer distance should suit the lightly-raced Big Hands Harry on his handicap debut. Broadway Buffalo is better than his form figures suggest while Cross Kennon will ensure there is no hanging about. BIG EASY represents a stable that has won this twice in the last six years and he made a very promising reappearance in a Grade 3 at Aintree. He's only a pound higher than when winning at Cheltenham last spring. Join The Clan and Wyse Hill Teabags may be the pick of the remainder.
Semeen did well last year, winning three of his four starts. But rain-softened ground is a real worry whereas the going will suit RHOMBUS. Ismael Mohammed's four-year-old may have had enough for the season when disappointing in the November Handicap in his final race of last season but has had a good break since and should win more races off his current mark. Hamelin was progressive last year but is another for whom conditions may be too soft and similar concerns surround Al Saham. Glorious Protector is consistent but is still climbing the handicap despite not winning.
Secret Gesture finished runner-up in the Oaks after winning last year's renewal for Ralph Beckett. But none of the latter's three runners have been entered for this year's Classic as yet with Ribblesdale entry Kallisha preferred to Moonrise Landing and Honor Bound. Kempton winner Criteria has something to find on last year's form with CASUAL SMILE. The latter finished second to a subsequent Listed winner over a mile at Newmarket in September and Andrew Balding trained her dam to win the Oaks. She's just preferred to another Oaks entry in Queen's Prize, who made a winning debut at Kempton over 7f so has some speed to compliment her middle-distance pedigree. Island Remede is one of the more exposed but finished ahead of both Mutatis Mutandis and Stealth Missile at Newmarket in November.
Harris Tweed went out like a light on his reappearance here over a longer trip. He might have needed that run but isn't getting any younger and will be in front to be shot at again. Elidor made a winning return to action at Thirsk and is worth another try at this level while Pether's Moon was second in a Group 2 at Newmarket last week and will make a bold bid to defy his penalty. He beat the disappointing Gatewood at Kempton on his final start of last year. Jockey bookings suggest Cap O'Rushes is the pick of the Godolphin pair but we are going to take a chance on AREA FIFTY ONE. Nicky Henderson does well with his Flat team and his charge wore down Gatewood on soft ground at Doncaster in March - he looks to have improved again over the winter.
Aidan O'Brien won the Derby trial at Chester during the week and landed this race last year with Nevis. He has a strong hand today with Mekong River just preferred to maiden winner Blue Hussar. The former lost his unbeaten record in a Group 1 in France in November and is penalised for an earlier Listed win at Leopardstown. SUDDEN WONDER returned to action with victory in a valuable sales race over 1m2f at Headquarters last month and Charlie Appleby's colt looks capable of even better over this longer trip. He may have the edge on Newbury runner-up Snow Sky, who finished ahead of Red Galileo, and also the Newmarket maiden winner Munjaz. Hartnell is pretty exposed and it could be significant that Joe Fanning prefers stablemate Double Bluff, who is closely matched with Snow Sky on Newbury running. Signposted ran well for fourth in the Epsom Derby Trial and may also get involved in a wide-open contest.
RIBBONS was no match for Zurigha at Kempton three weeks ago but this is a more suitable test for James Fanshawe's filly, who won her first four starts before stepping up to Listed company. She looks the one to beat ahead of Majestic Queen, who only won a match at Dundalk last month. Fashion Line never seems to run a bad race but this is her toughest task to date. Dutch Rose had Nurpur behind at York in August but the top weight may need this. Feedyah, twice placed behind Ihtimal at Meydan at the start of the year, looks the pick of the three-year-olds as both Lady Frances and Rasheeda will have to carry more than their allotted weight.
Barizan won this last year for Evan Williams but he's now with Donald McCain, who also runs the returning Life And Soul. Williams is represented by Ballyglasheen but, like fellow four-year-old Town Mouse, he appears to have a bit to find. Vibrato Valtat hasn't been raised for his win at Ayr and looks to have a big chance but the handicapper may have underestimated DUBAWI ISLAND after three victories in minor company. His Plumpton win in January has worked out quite well and he'll feel like he's been let loose after lumping penalties to success. As I Am is very tough and can't be ignored either but could face a battle for the lead with Perth scorer Titus Bolt. Swing Bowler has been competing in very good company and will be helped by Mikey Ennis' 7lb claim so is preferred to Changing The Guard of the others.
Big fields tend to fragment on the straight course here and those drawn low can have an advantage when the ground is riding on the soft side of good. Purcell, drawn 10, has won his last two starts on the Polytrack and his yard remains in fine form. Flyman beat a big field on soft ground on his reappearance over 6f at Doncaster, though finished behind Ayaar over this trip at Newmarket last August and is 4lb worse off. Frankie Dettori's mount makes plenty of appeal of those drawn near the stands rail while Glen Moss, beaten by Georgian Bay at Kempton before going one better against Louis The Pious and 12 others at Haydock, is also interesting. Heaven's Guest, last year's second Bertiewhittle and Loving Spirit filled the first three places in a similar contest over track and trip in the autumn. The latter comes out best at the weights today but REDVERS wasn't far behind that day despite missing the break. Ed Vaughan's six-year-old likes it here and wasn't far behind Bertiewhittle when fourth in the race last year. He's favoured by the weights now and must have a cracking chance after a pipe-opener at Warwick.