Tuesday 12 December 2017

Nasri can claim Victoria crown

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

This afternoon's Totesport Victoria Cup at Ascot is typically wide-open, with most bookies going 10/1 the field bar Horseradish, the general 8/1 favourite.

In all, 29 horses tackle the seven-furlong cavalry charge, which was won 12 months ago by David Marnane's Dandy Boy.

Ken Condon's Bay Knight is the sole Irish-trained challenger this time, and is not without a chance of bringing the spoils home. A winner of the Rockingham over five furlongs, Bay Knight also has plenty form over seven, so the trip is not a concern.

On his reappearance at Naas, Shane Foley's mount kept on to be fifth over five behind Inxile. He wasn't given a hard time of it when beaten and, with Foley taking three pounds off, he could get involved here.

Having recorded a pair of Doncaster triumphs on his final start last year and his first this year, Horseradish is a worthy favourite to bring up his hat-trick.

The Hayley Turner-ridden four-year-old has been drawn on the far side, where he will be one that could well dictate the pace of the race.

However, after also winning twice earlier last term, Horseradish has now climbed 18lbs up the ratings in eight months, so he has it to do today with 9st on his back. At around 16/1, Nasri is preferred from the same side of the track.

Dandy Nicholls' five-year-old finished three lengths behind Horseradish at the beginning of April, but progressed to win at Musselburgh later in the month.

He has gone up seven pounds for that but significantly, given their respective prices, he is two pounds better off with Horseradish now when you factor in his rider Michael O'Connell's claim.

Of equal importance, the form of Nasri's Musselburgh triumph has stood up well, with the fifth-placed horse Dubai Dynamo subsequently winning, and the eighth, Space War, also placed next time. Those are the only two to have run out of the race.

Having competed just half a dozen times in handicaps, Nasri strikes as the type that could keep improving. Crucially, he is also a horse that likes to race handily, so his draw on the far side, where a lot of the pace seems to be, is favourable.

Earlier, the John Doyle Buckhounds Stakes is a fascinating Listed race that gets proceedings under way. Alainmaar, unbeaten in his last four, is likely to go off a short-priced favourite for his up-and-coming young handler Roger Varian.

Since finishing second on his racecourse debut two years ago, the Johar colt been a commanding winner each time he has turned out, but he reappears here after a full year off. Granted, that may not stop him, but he is also stepping up to 12 furlongs for a first time, and there is a viable alternative in the field.

Verdant is rated nine pounds inferior to Alainmaar. Trained by Michael Stoute, he improved to win his final two starts of 2010, the latter coming over today's trip.

Against him is the fact that he was soundly beaten into fifth on his reappearance, but that was in a decent Group Three, and he ran like he needed the outing.

Overall, Verdant looks progressive, he is proven over the distance and is now race-fit, all of which might give him an edge under Ryan Moore.

In the fillies' handicap over a mile, Frances Stuart appeals off the same mark that she finished last season off when second at Salisbury. Lightly raced, Frances Stuart found only the subsequent Listed winner Field Day too good on that occasion.

At Haydock, Redford catches the eye in the Toteplacepot Spring Trophy. Successful in two valuable handicaps last September, Dandy Nicholls' charge couldn't match his race-fit stable-mate Evens And Odds first time out.

With the third home, Hamish McGonagall, scoring easily next time, that form looks solid.

Best bet: Redford

Irish Independent

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