With pace in stalls one and 20 and previous winners from low, middle and high draws in the last 15 years with cut in the ground, there is no obvious place to start in the Victoria Cup at Ascot.
Lightly raced horses with scope for improvement include Blue Mist and Cape Byron, while last year’s winner, Rip Orff,l always runs well over this track and trip.
One that may have sneaked in under the radar though is Michael Wigham’s Sanaadh (4.00) at around 14-1. Formerly with Andreas Wöhler in Germany, he was shrewdly bought for £26,000 and has shown significant improvement on his last two starts on the all-weather.
Lingfield 1.55 Six of the eight runners hold an entry in the Oaks and all are lightly raced and open to significant improvement. The race is a tricky one for punters as a result but Tauteke has a pedigree which suggests she will appreciate the step up in trip more than most and several of those behind her at Chelmsford in November have franked the form since.
Ascot 2.15 On bare form Setting Sail still has something to find with several opponents but he returned after 19 months off to win by six lengths on the all-weather at Wolverhampton last month and may be contesting a handicap merely on the way to much better things.
Lingfield 2.30 Aidan O’Brien has saddled three favourites in this race in the last five years and all were beaten. That slightly tempers enthusiasm for Anthony Van Dyck, who is well clear of his field on ratings, and Cap Francais could well offer better value at around 7-2 after a very promising return at Epsom last time.
Ascot 2.50 Close to a re-run of this race 12 months ago when Barsanti was over two lengths in front of Salouen. That was on quick going, however, and Salouen may be able to bridge the gap on soft ground.
Haydock 3.10 Cubswin and Arthington were first and second, respectively, over course and distance last time but the runner-up finished best of all from off the pace to go down by a head and can turn the tables on slightly better terms.
Ascot 3.25 Adorable’s form tailed off for Mick Channon last season but she still went through the ring for 450,000gns in December and could be worth a small interest on her first start for William Haggas.
Lingfield 3.40 There is little to choose between Pretty Baby and Perfection on their form to date but the former has only six races in the book and may have more scope to progress at four.