Our man is back with a long-range look at the Commonwealth Cup and his eye is drawn to a speedy filly at a double-figure price.
1pt win Lezoo in Commonwealth Cup at 16/1 (William Hill) - minimum 12/1
If you’re even vaguely considering backing a horse expected to be ridden by Frankie Dettori at Royal Ascot next month then the message is simple: beat the crowds and bet early.
Frankie’s farewell tour will inevitably be cranked several notches as the 52-year-old rocks up for his favourite meeting this summer, but while that obviously means the odds of his mounts will be falsely short come the week itself, I don’t think bookmakers are including that factor into their antepost prices.
That could potentially give us an edge at this stage and one long-range fancy who may well end up favourite on the day, particularly if Dettori has already enjoyed a good time of things before the Friday, is LEZOO, who must hold a massive chance of winning the Commonwealth Cup.
Trained by Ralph Beckett for Frankie’s pal Marc Chan, Lezoo has just about every box ticked, the only slight query being as to whether or not she’s truly trained on, but I saw enough in her 1000 Guineas effort to convince me it’s of no great concern (replay below).
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Easy to back at Newmarket on account of the obvious stamina concerns and soft ground, the daughter of Zoustar was a bit awkward from what looked a nasty enough draw in stall one, but she made a very nice-looking move just after halfway to close right up on the pace-setting – and eventual third – Matilda Picotte, before simply not seeing out the trip.
Dettori typically looked after her when the game was up and she was allowed to coast home in eighth without being knocked around.
That was a textbook preparatory run ahead of the return to six furlongs and, not only that, up ahead of her at HQ the race effectively rubber-stamped Lezoo’s top-class juvenile form as winner Mawj had finished third behind her and Meditate in the Cheveley Park Stakes towards the end of September.
In fact, Lezoo and Mawj met twice last term and while it was Saeed bin Suroor’s filly who emerged on top in the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at the July Festival, there were plenty on the day who felt the runner-up had been unfairly bumped when carried across the track by the slightly wayward winner in the final furlong.
Aside from that unfortunate reverse at Newmarket, Lezoo would have been unbeaten at two, her other key piece of form coming when readily accounting for some lesser rivals in the Group 3 Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes over the same course and distance as the Commonwealth Cup.
She’s going to love a return to sprinting, and getting back on some proper summer ground, so with most layers pushing her out from 8s and 10/1 to as big as 16/1 (William Hill) on the back of the Guineas, the timing looks right to now step in.
The betting is currently topped by Sakheer, another who was asked to stretch out from six furlongs last year up to a mile on his seasonal return in the 2000 Guineas.
Roger Varian's colt also ran a nice enough trial for the Commonwealth Cup, especially given how keenly he raced through the early stages, but he will need to find some improvement to turn the tables on Noble Style, who is rather oddly a point bigger than him for Ascot despite finishing a length and a half in front of Sakheer on the Rowley Mile.
Charlie Appleby's son of Kingman was another whose stamina gave way close home in the Guineas, but it was a very creditable effort and he was unbeaten over sprint distances at two.
That sequence included an impressive Gimcrack success from Marshman, with the likes of Cold Case (recently beat Coventry winner Bradsell in the course and distance content on 'Trials Day') and Guineas third Royal Scotsman further back, but it's the York runner-up I think could turn out to be the biggest threat to Lezoo this year.
Marshman reportedly suffered from sore shins in 2022 but it didn't prevent him from making a big impression and he was actually sent off favourite for the Gimcrack despite stepping straight up to Group 2 level at York from his novice.
He returned lame after a moderate run in the Middle Park Stakes at the end of last year but has already resumed with a clear-cut Group 3 success out in France (soft ground) and is on course to appear in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock in a couple of weeks' time.
His trainer Karl Burke has won that race twice in recent seasons, including with subsequent Commonwealth Cup-winning filly Quiet Reflection, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Marshman really announce himself there.
Hopefully the shin issue is behind him as rattling-quick ground at Ascot would presumably raise the possibility of that flaring up again, but otherwise his claims appear quite solid. At no bigger than 12/1, though, he's probably priced about right ahead of the prep run, and I'll comfortably resist adding a second bet to the staking plan at this point.
Published at 1600 BST on 14/05/22
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