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Thursday 8 May 2014

Victoria Cup Preview

The Victoria Cup, run over 7 furlongs at Ascot, has thrown up winners at 25/1 (twice), 16/1 and 14/1 in the last 10 years, so appears to be just the sort of race we’re looking for. Indeed, this year’s renewal, due off at 3.50 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, has attracted a maximum field of 29 runners, 19 of whom are available at 20/1, or longer, in the ante post lists, so the prospects of a turnup are quite high.

Your correspondent is still smarting, to some degree, at having rowed in with the ‘wrong’ outsider trained by Richard Hannon is last week’s 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket but, anyway, here goes.

The first one that takes the eye, towards the foot of the handicap, is Capo Rosso, who is actually chasing a hat-trick, but is available at 25/1 in several places in the ante post lists. In fact, the Red Clubs gelding recorded arguably a career-best effort when staying on well to beat Gworn by 5 lengths over 1 mile 141 yards at Wolverhampton last month so, although 2lb higher in the weights, warrants further inspection. He’s by a Haydock Sprint Cup winner and his sole win on turf came over the sharp 7 furlongs at Warwick, but he’s unlikely to fail through lack of stamina if his Wolverhampton effort is anything to go by. Indeed, a testing 7 furlongs could be right up his street at this stage of his career and he could fare much better than when well beaten in the Britannia Stakes, over a mile, on his last visit to Ascot.

Carrying the same weight as Capo Rosso and, coincidentally, available at the same price, is Boots And Spurs, who could only finish sixteenth of twenty-five, beaten 26 lengths, behind Brae Hill in the William Hill Spring Mile at Doncaster, but looks far from impossibly handicapped on his form over 7 furlongs last season. He races off the same mark as when third, beaten 1 length and a short head, behind Magic City and Intransigent in the valuable Betfair Cash Out Stakes at Goodwood last August and, subject to the vagaries of the draw, a reproduction of that form should see him in the shake-up. William Twiston-Davies takes off a useful 3lb, so he’s arguably well-handicapped.

So far, we’ve considered Capo Rosso (drawn 9) and Boots And Spurs (drawn 22), so it would make sense to find another likely contender drawn right in the middle, just to cover all the angles. Spiritual Star (drawn 14) contested the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes as a two-year-old and started his three-year-old campaign with a handicap mark of 109, only to prove disappointing as a three-year-old and four-year-old. His two recent runs over a mile on the Polytrack at Lingfield seemed to suggest that 7 furlongs is on the short side for him these days, but there’ll be no hanging about and a fast pace may bring his stamina into play late on. If it does, the Soviet Star gelding is much more realistically handicapped off a mark of 91 as a five-year-old and could belie the 33/1 currently on offer ante post.

So, my three against the field for this week are:

Capo Rosso (25/1 with Bet365)
Boots And Spurs (25/1 with Sky Bet)
Spiritual Star (33/1 generally).

Good luck!


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