Our racing expert fires some arrows at the Shergar Cup action from Ascot.
The Shergar Cup is a fun event and any bets on it should be kept small, especially as recent rain could see form turned on its head. So good luck if you’re betting on it and here are my somewhat tentative selections for each of the six races.
1:05 5f Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash (Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+ 0-105)
EVERGATE hasn’t won since May 2017 and his 2-23 record is a concern but he did run well over this track and trip 15 days ago (good to firm), when looking the winner until headed close home by Blue De Vega, and a similar effort here under Adam Kirby might well suffice. Robert Cowell’s sprinter seems versatile over the ground too, having won on good to soft previously.
1:40 2m (1m7f209y) Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers (Handicap) (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-100)
Andrew Balding’s CLEONTE didn’t get the clearest of runs at Newbury last time and didn’t appear to stay 2m4f here previously. If you ignore those runs, he must have every chance on his close fourth in a decent handicap over track and trip in May (good to firm) and a narrow defeat at Salisbury (heavy) previously. His Swedish jockey is a bit of an unknown quantity but he (after a Google search) is at least in good form – he notched a treble on Wednesday before flying to Britain – and the selection, who has gone well for apprentices in the past, looks a straightforward ride.
2:15 1m4f (1m3f211y) Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge (Handicap) (Class 3) (4yo+ 0-95)
Fran Berry will get the leg up on likely favourite Machine Learner and that is handy as he rode the gelding in a course and distance handicap back in May (albeit beaten a long way). The five-year-old has since won decisively over 1m6f here and given he led over a furlong out under a hands and heels ride, he shouldn’t be too inconvenienced by dropping back in trip, although the ground was much faster on that occasion. At a bigger price, a chance is taken on EDDYSTONE ROCK as he’s well handicapped on a mark 2lb lower than his last winning one and has hinted at a return to his best form on a couple of recent starts, including when not disgraced in the Duke Of Edinburgh (1m4f) last time. The in-form Pat Cosgrove takes the reigns.
2:50 1m (7f213y) (Rnd) Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile (Handicap) (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-100)
This is wide open but Michael Bell’s FIRE BRIGADE is one who will appreciate the recent rain as he prefers to get his toe in and he had an excuse when only eighth at Newcastle last time, having been denied a clear run when mounting his challenge. That was his first run back after wind surgery and he’s since been withdrawn at the start of the Golden Mile, so he’s due a change of luck and his previous second in a class 2 at Haydock gives him a right chance on form. The presence of Gerald Mosse on his back increases confidence further.
3:25 1m4f (1m3f211y) Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic (Handicap) (Class 3) (3yo 0-95)
Ian Williams’ GOSSIP COLUMN has looked very progressive this term, winning four of his six starts, including when making all on rain-softened ground at Chester last Sunday without being seriously challenged. Connections are aiming him at the Melrose at York, but it’s no surprise to see him turned out again quickly under a 3lb penalty and he’s going to be hard to beat in his current frame of mind. His veteran German jockey Andrasch Starke does at least have experience of riding around here, winning once from 14, tries, and this looks a gilt-edged chance to double his tally.
4:00 6f Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint (Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo 0-100)
Nigel Tinkler is on a good run of form with seven winners from 27 runners (26%) in the last fortnight, including landing a big nursery prize last weekend with Princess Power. His ROUNDHAY PARK has already contributed twice to his seasonal tally of 31 wins (his best for 30 years) and the three-year-old looks the one to be on here with Hayley Turner doing the steering. While all his wins have been over 5f, he ran a blinder when upped to this trip in a warm race at Newmarket last time, finishing third of the 20 runners, and he can run off the same mark. As a son of Mayson, he won’t mind any easing of the ground either.
Ascot 1.05, Evergate @ 6/1 BetVictor
Ascot 1.40, Cleonte @ 11/2 Ladbrokes
Ascot 2.15, Eddystone Rock @ 12/1 BetVictor
Ascot 2.50, Fire Brigade @ 7/1 Ladbrokes
Ascot 3.25, Gossip Column @ 9/2 bet365
Ascot 4.00, Roundhay Park @ 6/1 Paddy Power
All odds were correct at time of posting.