Dream can call tune in Ascot cavalry charge
David Marnane's Jamesie and Ado McGuinness' Bubbly Bellini tackle this afternoon's Betfred Victoria Cup, a mind-boggling 29-runner Ascot cavalry charge over seven furlongs.
Bansha-based Marnane won the showpiece handicap with Dandy Boy in 2010, so he knows the sort of horse required for the job. Dandy Boy was rated 1lb lower than Jamesie when he obliged and was an unexposed prospect at the time that continued to progress thereafter.
With 27 outings to his name, Jamesie has already had 20 more runs than Dandy Boy had coming here, so he is an altogether different animal.
Second over this course and distance off 92 in the Buckingham Palace Stakes in June, he flashed home well to fill the same spot behind Strait Of Zanzibar on his Dundalk reappearance a month ago.
Jamesie might yet have a big day in him off his current rating of 96, although he needs a bit of luck in racing because of his hold-up running style.
As such, while it is possible that he is flattered by his tendency to finish with a flourish, he is a solid each-way option at up to 14/1.
Notwithstanding the respect that you'd have for McGuinness' decision to let last year's prolific Rockingham and Joe McGrath Handicap hero Bubbly Bellini take its chance, the forecast quick ground might not suit Ian Brennan's mount.
The same might also be true of the ante-post market leader Haaf A Sixpence, though he is a far less exposed contender with just nine runs to his name.
A three-time all-weather winner, Ralph Beckett's four-year-old showed a willing attitude to prevail at Newbury last time.
Off a 5lb higher mark, he has genuine place claims again, particularly if the ground conditions happen to deteriorate. However, it is one of his Newbury victims, the Clive Cox-trained Dream Tune, that is preferred for the win this time.
Consistent at seven furlongs and a mile, the Oasis Dream four-year-old broke his maiden impressively over this trip at Salisbury in August, before being beaten a head off 87 on his handicap bow at Chester. On his final outing last term, he ran a blinder over course and distance in October, keeping on intently to be fifth, three lengths behind Compton.
Dream Tune's effort on his seasonal return was also full of promise. Racing handily over a mile, he led two furlongs down and boxed on all the way to the line after being headed inside the distance to finish fifth, just two and a half lengths off Haaf A Sixpence.
Crucially, not least because of Dream Tune's aggressive way of going, the four horses that passed him were all race-fit, and he enjoys a 10lb swing at the weights with Haaf A Sixpence now, once you factor in the 5lb claim of his in-form rider Ryan Tate. For a horse having just its 10th racecourse appearance, that is a hugely significant pull.
With a stiff seven furlongs ideal for a ground-versatile horse, that races so close to the pace and stays a mile, conditions today should allow Dream Tune to excel off a low weight. At odds of around 14/1, he stands out as by far the best value in the race.
Aidan O'Brien relies on Nevis in Lingfield's Derby trial, but of more interest there is Ger Lyons' Lily's Angel, a super mare that faces 10 others in the Group Three Chartwell Stakes.
Michael Stoute's Ultrasonic is possibly her main danger after hitting the bar in three Listed heats at the end of last year.
Still, Lyons' daughter of Dark Angel has the advantage of being rocket-fit, and the decisive manner in which she stretched her unbeaten all-weather record to four here last time suggested that she is fully entitled to a step up in class such as this on Turf.
At Haydock, while Jessica Harrington's Jetson has each-way prospects in the Long Distance Hurdle, the one that appeals most is Barizan in the Swinton. Back on a decent surface after finishing fourth in deep ground in the Imperial Cup, the former Punchestown Grade One winner could be hard to peg back off bottom-weight under Paul Moloney.
Best Bet: Dream Tune