Harry Angel is tipped to set his Ascot record straight as our gallops watcher rounds up all the fancied runners this weekend.
Tips from the gallops
Harry Angel can lay his Ascot hoodoo to rest and win the Group 1 QIPCO Champion Sprint Stakes at the Berkshire course on Saturday.
Clive Cox had high hopes of continuing his great success with the four year old in the Spring, after the colt's fantastic 2017 campaign, but old problems re-emerged during the Summer, and he has enjoyed only one win - in a Group 2 at York - to his credit as the campaign draws to a close.
Of his two defeats, issues with the starting stalls blighted his performance at the Royal meeting in June, and if that were not enough, he then went far too quick from a decent release from the gates at Haydock last time.
Cox is hoping everything comes together for an overdue first success at the Berkshire course, and it should always be remembered he has run some very good races in defeat here.
The son of Dark Angel could not be in better form for this race, and the fact that the ground is drying will aid his cause, even though he did win at Haydock in the mud just over a year ago. He is something of a forgotten horse now and now represents each-way value in an open race.
Lah Ti Dar had a hard race in the St Leger and Kitesurf could prove to be a lucrative alternative in the Group 1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes. Andre Fabre's four-year-old has been in great form this season and followed a Group 2 win at Deauville, with a narrow success in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille at Longchamp last time. This race looks tailor-made for her, and she looks sure to handle the more demanding ground after those two victories on sounder surfaces.
It'll be feast of famine for John Gosden but his leading light of 2018, Roaring Lion, won't let him down in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes if his homework can be trusted. The grey has been gleaming through the morning mist in headquarters and stands well above his rivals on form.
Roaring Lion takes the mile route, leaving the path clear for stablemate and last year's winner Cracksman in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, but Gosden does still have a second string to his bow in Monarchs Glen and the latter gets the call each-way.
Another strapping son of Frankel, he's been building up nicely on the gallops and looks significantly underestimated given how well his Royal Ascot victory has worked out. There would be a hint of irony should Cracksman's work rider Rab Havlin guide Monarchs Glen to victory over the favourite, but the horse looks more than capable of holding his own at this level.
It may pay to take a chance on Mitchum Swagger to reach a place or better in the Balmoral Handicap. Horses that have missed most of the season often come into their own in these dying weeks of the turf campaign, and Mitchum Swagger has run just once since his very good third to Addeybb and Lord Glitters in the Lincoln on his debut for Ralph Beckett at Doncaster back in the early spring.
With both the winner and second proving themselves to be proven Group 1 performers during the summer, it was no surprise to see the selection start favourite for his warm up for this race at Haydock three weeks ago, but he can be forgiven for only finishing sixth after his lengthy absence.
In his last life with former trainer David Lanigan, he finished a very good third to Portage in the 2016 Royal Hunt Cup over this course and distance, and on the best of his form, he looks reasonably handicapped.
Bags Groove, a winner of good class handicap hurdles at Kempton and Aintree last autumn, should close in what looks a fascinating Dribuild Novices Chase at Ffos Las.
This looks a tough heat with the likes of Coole Cody and Vision Des Flos in the line-up, but Bags Groove, clearly comes to hand early, and has been both schooling and working well in his preparation.
Elton Des Mottes shaped well in what looked a good class bumper won by Northern Soul at Market Rasen in the spring, and he should improve sufficiently to land an appropriate success for his trainer in the Dan Skelton Maiden National Hunt Flat Race. Encore Champs and Ninth Wave look the dangers and are horses to note.
Highway One O One, a stablemate of Baddesley Knight, can defy a 6lb penalty and retain his 100 per cent record over fences in the Winteringham Fields Menu Surprise Novices Chase at Market Rasen.
A smart novice hurdler last season, he made a pleasing start to his chasing career when beating the very useful if a little enigmatic Flying Tiger at Newton Abbot last month. Although he did not quite show the same proficiency over his fences around that tricky course as he did over the schooling fences at home, the experience will do him good, and he looks a very useful prospect.
Show On The Road, a stablemate of Ninth Wave, proved very consistent in what was a tricky season for Philip Hobbs last term and he looks worth an interest on his return to action in the Kenwick Park Handicap Hurdle.
Verdana Blue can see off a useful field with her lightweight in the Listed VIP Matchbook Hurdle at Kempton on Sunday.
Nicky Henderson is still waiting for the ground to ease more before heading for the grass gallops on the Faringdon Road overlooking his Seven Barrows base, but Vardana Blue loves a sound surface, and this race as been a target for some time.
A smart performer on her day, she has a great turn of foot when conditions are right, and she ably demonstrated the point when she won on her debut on the Flat at Wolverhampton three weeks ago. That performance was the well-planned warm up for this race, and she should be up to beating last season's winner Old Guard in receipt of 13lb.
Casablanca Mix can complete a double for the champion trainer in the Move Over To Matchbook Handicap Chase. She developed into a bold jumping novice over the larger obstacles last season, but did fall with the race at her mercy on her final start of the campaign at Exeter, and took a slight knock in the process.
She is back in good heart now, however, and she may have a touch too much class for this opposition, despite her 10-month lay-off.
Classical Times did this column proud with another bold effort in defeat at Newmarket last weekend and, having mentioned that she'd been bought up by Juddmonte Farms, it's now becoming clear that her future lies in the paddocks and rumours around town suggest she'll be paying a visit to the mighty Frankel in the coming months.
She's extremely well bred being a half-sister to potential American superstar filly Newspaperofrecord and if her own course record is anything to go by she'll make an excellent broodmare.
Her trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam is looking forward to Monday's meeting at Pontefract, where he has a very respectable 20 per cent strike-rate down the years. He's set to saddle Deja in the 10-furlong handicap and Andrea Atzeni is also already booked for two-year-old Tony Chestnut on the same card. Both have pleased the team during the week.
At Kempton on the same day You Little Ripper could make his eagerly-awaited debut in the novice stakes but he may face serious opposition in the shape of Sir Michael Stoute's London Eye, who looks to have filled out a lot since his debut at Newbury a month ago.
Stoute's Urbino has caught the eye in his work of late and has a couple of options at the start of next week, while the Hugo Palmer-trained Almufti has thrived after winning at Kempton at the start of September and it'll be interesting to see where he pitches up next.