What are the best bets for the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Saturday?
The 2m Qipco Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Saturday (due off 12.45pm) comes under the scrutiny of our resident tipster.
Brian Meehan’s Agent Murphy was firmly put in his place by Order Of St George at the Curragh last time, finishing 11 lengths adrift of the Ballydoyle runner, but he still had a couple of today’s rivals behind – Wicklow Brave (3rd) and Forgotten Rules (5th) – and he remains a smashing stayer open to more progress. With no opponent of the calibre of Order Of St George in the field, he is a worthy favourite to make it five wins from just nine starts.
Who else is fancied?
It’s hard to see the aforementioned Forgotten Rules turning the tables, though last year’s winner is still entitled to plenty of respect. As is the quirky but talented Pallasator, who finished third in this 12 month ago and is coming off a victory in an admittedly weak renewal of the Doncaster Cup.
Clever Cookie has disappointed on his last two starts, but he will have been freshened up by a 57-day break and looked highly progressive when winning twice in the spring. On the contrary, John Gosden’s Flying Officer arrives here on a high after winning his last two starts in the style of a potential Group horse, persuading connections to pay the supplementary fee and re-book Frankie Dettori to do the steering.
Litigant is perhaps still not getting the respect he deserves. Allowed to go off at 33/1 for the Ebor despite a string of wins to his name, he made a mockery of those odds when slamming the reopposing Wicklow Brave by a length and a half and his only defeats in eight starts were first time out at two and on his British debut back in November 2013. This is his toughest assigned date, though.
Any decent outsiders?
Amour de Nuit gives Sir Mark Prescott a second string to his bow, but he is stepping up from handicaps, whereas his stablemate Pallasator is proven in this company. Of more interest is the Willie Mullins ‘second string’ Clondaw Warrior, who would surely be a lot shorter than his current 20/1 had he not finished stone last at Longchamp 13 days ago. He went off 5/2 favourite that day and something was clearly amiss, but ignore that and he would have a right chance based on his back-to-back wins in the Ascot Stakes (2m4f) and at the Galway Festival.
Give us the winner then?
This is wide open, as you may have already gathered, and a case be made for plenty. But none make more appeal in terms or price alone than CLONDAW WARRIOR. Presumably there was a good excuse for his poor showing in Paris and there were no ill effects – or else he wouldn’t be lining up – and it’s worth noting his habit of bouncing back from a disappointing effort – his form figures in races when a beaten favourite last time out read 2211B2. Given that, it’s hard to resist a small each-way investment at Paddy Power’s 20/1. Agent Murphy is the big danger.