Sunday 19 November 2017

No reason to oppose Makfi in Ascot showpiece

Wayne Bailey

WHILE last week's column showed a very reasonable profit thanks to the 'each-way outsider' selection, I must admit that I was getting quite concerned about losing most of that money on Sunday afternoon while watching the All-Ireland football final, having advised punters to lay the Mourne men at 9/2 a few weeks ago.

By half-time on Sunday, I was kicking myself for writing those words, but once again, the Rebels wouldn't lie down and my bacon -- and of course cash -- was saved with a comeback.

Speaking of money, it's a shame that Canford Cliffs is not taking a crack at the £250,000 prize in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot today (4.15). The colt's trainer, Richard Hannon, wasn't happy after a scope on Thursday and that clears the way for Makfi to take the prize money back to France, albeit at a very short price.

I'll admit that I'm being a big yellow-belly in putting this one up as the bet of the day, but the 2,000 Guineas winner should have plenty in hand and I'm struggling to find any reason to oppose.

The Mikel Delzangles-trained three-year-old found his form once again when beating Goldikova and Paco Boy last-time-out at Deauville following a dismal performance in the St James's Palace Stakes (after which the vet found an inflamed throat).

Last year's winner Rip Van Winkle could prove dangerous, but he's become somewhat inconsistent and often disappoints on the big occasions. I can't see him emulating Rose Bowl who was the last horse to complete back-to-back victories in 1975-1976. I'll be laying him at 9/4.


They say that lightning never strikes twice, and after nailing a 14/1 winner last week with Redford in the Ayr Gold Cup, the chances of landing another big-priced winner for this column today may seem diminished.

However, past events have no real bearing on the future when it comes to matters of chance, so who's to say we can't strike again with this week's big-priced selection!

Seriously though, Gramercy looks like the perfect unexposed sort that is capable of causing an upset in the Challenge Cup Heritage Handicap (3.40 Ascot), priced around 20/1.

I wouldn't get upset about his eighth place at Newmarket last month as the underfoot conditions were way too soft and it was clear early on that he wasn't enjoying himself.

He put in a pretty solid performance when winning the Shergar Cup Handicap Sprint at this venue previously; although many of the Shergar Cup races are best described as novelty events, so I wouldn't get too excited about that victory.

Delving a little deeper, his form at Haydock when winning a tricky handicap may be a better marker of his true ability, and his relatively low weight today of nine stone must surely give him a great chance of placing at least.

Getting back to last week's winner, Redford, credit must go to one Lanfranco Dettori who timed his ride perfectly and I'm not quite sure if the horse would have won with a different jockey on his back.

It was lucky then, that Frankie actually made it to Ayr, as Ryanair wouldn't let him on the plane without his passport forcing him to make alternative arrangements.

Redford will take his chance again here today and is likely to go off as favourite; but the other jockeys will be watching Frankie like a hawk and he could meet trouble in-running when making his late bid. On that basis, a single figure price on Redford is unappealing.


2.30 Ascot: Frankel

3.05 Ascot: White Moonstone

3.40 Ascot: Gramercy (e/w)

4.15 Ascot: Makfi

4.15 Ascot: Lay Rip Van Winkle (2pts liability)

Irish Independent

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