Friday 23 February 2018

Moore aiming for happy days with the fonz

Ryan Moore, who looks set to lose his riders' title shortly following a recent spell on the sidelines through injury, is the jockey to follow at Ascot tomorrow.

The three-time champion has six good rides at the Berkshire venue, including the returning Patkai, the Michael Stoute-trained gelding that chased Yeats home in the Ascot Gold Cup on its most recent outing last year. While that one may have its work cut out, The Fonz and Free Agent are two of Moore's mounts that are fancied.

The Fonz takes its chance in the PWC Handicap on the back of a dour win under Kieren Fallon at York last month. With a 5lb penalty for that success, he may be considered vulnerable now, but Stoute has found him another winnable race.

A total of eight are set to oppose The Fonz, with three-year-olds Bay Willow, Life And Soul and Prompter among his most likely rivals for the head of the market. However, each of that trio struggled last time against their own age group, so it's not difficult to envisage the progressive The Fonz defying his rise up the weights.

In the last four of just five outings this season, the four-year-old has won twice and been second. He has won two of his last three, with his run in the Old Newton Cup in between too bad to be true.

In short, he stands out as the type that could still be improving, and 5lbs might not be enough to stop him now. If he handles the slow ground, he should win.

Free Agent takes its chance in the subsequent Listed race, and is put forward on the basis that he is a similarly progressive type. Officially rated 107, Richard Hannon's son of Dr Fong comes out wrong at the weights with a number of his eight rivals.

If the handicapper's assessment of Free Agent is correct, then he will struggle, but he has impressed in winning two of his last three starts.

While he was probably outclassed when well-beaten in a Group Two at Goodwood prior to his most recent win at Salisbury, this middle-ranking event should be within his compass.

Irish Independent

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