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Friday 16 October 2015

3:45, Ascot, Saturday, 17th October

The Balmoral Handicap, nowadays run over the straight mile used for the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot, has only been contested once in its current guise, but is the most valuable race of its kind in Europe and, as such, is fiercely competitive. As ever, we’ve run a rule over the 23-strong field and come up with a few that may have been overlooked by the bookmakers.

As usual, the bookmakers aren’t taking any chances, with just one horse, Rene Mathis, available at 33/1 and, even then, only in three places. But for the fact that Richard Fahey’s 5-year-old has run without distinction on all four starts at Ascot, I might have been tempted to include him for pure devilment, but anyway…

Down among the dead men, so to speak, Donncha (25/1) has run well on both starts at Ascot and is just 1lb higher in the weights than when third, beaten 1¼ lengths, in the Gigaset International Stakes over 7 furlongs in July, so must be of interest from a handicapping perspective. The Captain Marvellous colt won over an extended mile, on soft going, at Windsor at around this time last year and is entitled to improve for his run in the Cambridgeshire three weeks ago, so he has plenty going for him.

Balty Boys (20/1) is closely handicapped with Donncha on their running in the Gigaset International Stakes and, although 4lb higher in the weights, went on to win the Group 3 Superior Mile, on good to soft going, at Haydock next time. He was below par on his first attempt on Polytrack at Chelmsford three weeks ago but, while consistency is not necessarily his strong suit, he’s another who looks overpriced.

Professor (25/1) has yet to win beyond 7 furlongs, but has shaped on recent starts as if a mile is what he needs at this stage of his career and rain-softened ground shouldn’t hinder his chance. He’s 8lb better off for the 5 lengths he finished behind Buckstay in the Totescoop6 Challenge Cup, over 7 furlongs, last time and, while that shouldn’t strictly be enough for him to turn the tables, an extra furlong might be enough to make the difference.

Here we go again, in search of untold wealth for a relatively small outlay, with our three against the field, in no particular order, Donncha (25/1 with Boylesports and William Hill), Balty Boys (20/1 with Sky Bet, Boylesports and Stan James) and Professor (25/1 generally available). Good luck!


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