3.00 Ascot – TABDEED (nap)
This six-furlong three-year-old handicap is often a strongly-contested event – notable past winners being Laddies Poker Two, Sirius Prospect, Gabriel’s Lad and The Tin Man – and this year’s renewal looks no exception, a couple of unexposed colts looking to bounce from losing their unbeaten records last time against more established sorts.
The selection, trained by Owen Burrows, is a son of Havana Gold who made a winning start to his career in a 6f novice contest at Leicester last August, waited with and travelling strongly, making good progress over two furlongs out and switched right soon after, ridden to lead 150 yards out and clearing away to score by 2¼ lengths from Yafta. He shrugged aside a penalty to make a winning return in a 6f novice event at Nottingham in May, racing enthusiastically in behind the leaders and moving through smoothly to lead at the two furlong marker, staying on strongly throughout the final furlong to score by 3¾ lengths from The Establishment (pair well clear). He lost his unbeaten record when contesting the 7f Group 3 Jersey Stakes here the following month, racing in midfield in the stands’ side group, travelling better than most approaching the two furlong marker but unable to sustain his effort inside the final furlong, fading to finish 12th of 21 behind Expert Eye (beaten 9½ lengths). This colt shaped a lot better than the result that day, challenging away from the main action and reportedly stiff afterwards; stable in excellent form having endured a troubled season, and it wouldn’t at all surprise to see their representative here regain the winning thread now entering handicap company from a mark of 96/stepping back to six furlongs.
The Hugo Palmer-trained Encrypted was a dual winner at two and built on an encouraging return behind the smart Yafta with victory in a valuable 6f handicap at York the following month, close up and striking the front over a furlong out, responding well for pressure to fend off Savalas by a neck. He folded tamely when the next twice but bounced back with a win in a 6f handicap at Chelmsford in August and posted a career-best effort in defeat in the Portland at Doncaster last month, travelling well but unable to reel in the front-running Amomentofmadness. He is an ‘all or nothing’ sort and has been nudged up a further 2lbs for that latest effort, but the manner in which he travelled that day suggests he’s thriving at present; obvious claims back against his own age group if on song.
The Richard Fahey-trained Aljady is a son of Bated Breath who won on his only start at two in a 6f event at Redcar and made a winning return over the same course and distance in June, making all and overcoming patent signs of inexperience to score with a bit in hand from Worship. He completed the hat-trick on handicap debut over the same distance at Thirsk a couple of weeks later, racing keenly in midfield and pushed along to challenged two furlongs out, responding well for pressure lead in the final strides and score by half a length from The Armed Man. He lost his unbeaten record in a 7f handicap at Glorious Goodwood in August, racing in mid-division and denied a clear run when shaken up to close two furlongs out, keeping on for pressure inside the final furlong to finish sixth behind Medahim (beaten 2¾ lengths). He again didn’t settle fully and also met with some trouble when beginning his challenge, neither of those things aiding his cause; no surprise to see him back on the up returned to 6f here.
Nigel Tinkler’s Whinmoor is a son of Havana Gold who has gone from strength to strength in handicap company this season, registering his first victory in a 6f event at Redcar back in June from a mark of 52 and landing a pair of 7f handicaps at Redcar before completing the four-timer in good style in a 6f handicap back at Carlisle in early August. He found his winning run coming to an end in a 7f handicap at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting three weeks ago, tracking the leaders and racing keenly, moving closer two furlongs out and ridden to lead entering the final furlong, overhauled close home and going down by a neck to Picture No Sound. The step back to a stiff six furlongs should suit, run down late over seven furlongs last time; 3lb rise for that latest effort doesn’t make life any easier though.
The Richard Fahey-trained Lucky Lucky Man signed off his juvenile campaign with victory in a heavy-ground 6f nursery at Carlisle and shaped better than the bare result when finishing in midfield in a 6f handicap at Newmarket won by Yafta, though he followed that with a modest effort in a claimer at Wolverhampton. He soon bounced back to form, following a couple of good runs in defeat with victory in a 6f handicap at Newcastle in August, and his latest outing saw him land the 23-runner Bronze Cup at Ayr a fortnight ago, brought through late under a good ride from 7lb claimer Oakley Brown to score by 1¼ lengths from Royal Residence. He is 5lbs higher for that success and will encounter vastly different conditions here, also drawn advantageously last time; hold up tactics clearly going to be employed again given the booking of Jamie Spencer but one or two others make more appeal this time.
The Roger Varian-trained Flavius Titus is a son of Lethal Force who improved with each run at two culminating in success at Kempton in a 7f novice event last November, and he has been largely consistent this season, building on his seasonal reappearance to land a 7f handicap at Doncaster in June by a length from Los Camachos. He has failed to add to that tally since but has run well in the main, well held behind Aljady at Glorious Goodwood in August but shaping well the last twice, particularly last time when worn down close home by Mukalal at Lingfield 24 days ago. He is back up 2lbs for that narrow defeat and has to find improvement from somewhere in this lineup, though it’s quite possible the step back to this stiff six furlongs could help in that respect (essentially bred to sprint).
Amanda Perrett’s Count Otto quickly made up into a useful AW performer throughout the winter, bagging a pair of small-field 6f handicaps at Lingfield at the start of the year but managing only eighth behind Corinthia Knight on AW Finals day over the same course and distance in March. He rather struggled when returned to turf initially, but he showed signs of a revival at Goodwood in August and confirmed that with a good second to Rebel Streak in a 6f handicap at Newmarket (July) a fortnight later and went one better in a small-field event over the same course and distance six days later. His latest outing came in a 6f handicap at Chelmsford 20 days ago, in rear and pushed wide into the straight, staying on strongly inside the final furlong to come home in third behind Breathless Times (beaten 1½ lengths). He appears to be back in form after a rather muted spring/early summer period, but he needs to back that up now in a Class 2 event on turf from a mark of 91 against fellow in-form rivals/a couple of unexposed sorts.