Sirvino set to make light work of rivals
Sirvino, successful in the John Smith's Cup last year, but without a win since, is fancied in the day's featured handicap at Ascot, the Ladbrokes.com Stakes.
In a field of 19, David Wachman's Icon Dream is the only Irish representative. Raced in Group company in six of his seven starts this term, the Sadler's Wells gelding undoubtedly has a touch of quality.
However, he hasn't been overly resolute, and a visor now replaces the blinkers that he has worn recently in a bid to concentrate his mind. Given his ability, and that he will be happy in the conditions of a mile and a half on soft ground, Icon Dream may represent each-way value at up to 25/1, but Sirvino looks more solid win material.
David Barron's charge enjoyed an unbeaten run of five in 2009 that culminated in his famous York triumph. Lightly raced this term, he has plenty going for him again here.
On his most recent start, just his third of the season, Sirvino did his best work at the finish, before going down by a length over 10 furlongs. That Pontefract run was his most encouraging effort for some time, and it suggested that he was close to the level of form that saw him achieve so much last year.
While he has gone up 2lbs in the weights now, his lacklustre previous runs had seen him drop to 93, which was just 1lb higher than his John Smith's winning mark.
Having hit 101 at his peak Sirvino might still be well in today, and the fact that he comes here on the back of a light campaign should be to his advantage.
Furthermore, in light of his dogged effort at Pontefract, the step up to 12 furlongs is also expected to aid his cause. Given his overall profile, 10/1 looks generous.
Later on, Seven Summits gets the nod in what is a tricky handicap at 4.50.
An easy winner of a Dundalk maiden in July on the last of three starts for Aidan O'Brien, the son of Danehill Dancer has since been gelded and switched to Jeremy Noseda's care.
With Johnny Murtagh, who did the steering at Dundalk, being on duty at Ascot, it is Ryan Moore who takes the reins today. With more practiced campaigners such as Spanish Duke and Rock N Roll Ransom to contend with, this certainly won't be easy.
Nonetheless, Seven Summits could trade at up to 6/1, and it is worth speculating that such an unexposed horse isn't too harshly rated off 95 on its handicapping debut. If he handles the slow ground, it would be no surprise to see him collect.
In the day's other major handicap at York, the Coral Sprint Trophy, Colonel Mak is taken to secure a third successive victory.
A big-priced winner of the Silver Cup at Ayr three weeks ago, Colonel Mak is, like Sirvino, trained by Barron, who also saddles the favourite, Poet's Place, at York.
Barron's jockey bookings for the Sprint Trophy suggest that Poet's Place, which was 10th in the Ayr Gold Cup, is the stable's first string, but Philip Makin could yet regret deserting Colonel Mak.
Prior to the duo's success in Scotland, Colonel Mak had run out a tidy winner under Jamie Spencer on soft ground at Leicester.
He will get his favoured conditions once again today, and the 7lbs he has received for scoring at Ayr might not be enough to halt his progress. The three-year-old can be backed at 15/2, which is hugely appealing.
Closer to home, Paddy Flood has a good chance of getting back among the winners after recently returning from injury when he partners Francis Du Mesnil in the two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase at Fairyhouse.
While Arthur Moore's eight-year-old has been frustrating, this isn't the most competitive of handicaps.
Best bet: Colonel Mak