Riflescope, who’d been well beaten in a conditions race, over 6 furlongs, at Newbury on his previous start, proved something of a revelation at Ascot, staying on to finish fourth, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Waterloo Bridge in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes. Soapy Aitken, on the other hand, headed to Ascot unbeaten after winning a maiden at Leicester and a three-runner conditions race at Windsor (both at odds on), but made further progress when finishing fourth, beaten 2½ lengths, in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes.
The time for the Norfolk Stakes was only marginally faster than the Windsor Castle Stakes, so there may be little to choose between two talented colts, who have both demonstrated professionalism, as well as speed, in their short careers. However, preference on this occasion is for Riflescope as an outsider tip, who just about has the edge on the form book. Mark Johnston has done well with his juveniles this season, winning 35-146 (24%), and can chalk up another success.
Selection: Sandown 2.50 Riflescope to win
Windsor racecourse is synonymous with Monday evening meetings throughout the summer and has proved a happy stamping ground for the Hannon stable. In the Boodles Diamond Handicap (6.55) on Monday, Richard Hannon Jr. saddles Divine Law, who’s won twice over course and distance in recent weeks and looks to have every chance of completing a hat-trick under a 6lb penalty.
The switch to forcing tactics on a course where the emphasis is on speed, rather than stamina, appears to have been the key to the Major Cadeaux colt. Obviously, a 6lb penalty makes life more difficult, but he’s still only 1lb higher in the weights than when winning a Class 3 nursery, over 7 furlongs, at Haydock last July, so he may not have finished winning yet.
He’s 6lb worse off for a length with No Delusion on their running here last time, but Charlie Appleby’s charge is still a maiden on turf and, despite his best efforts, was never quite getting to Divine Law on that occasion. If Divine Law is allowed an uncontested lead, No Delusion may have difficulty reeling him in once again on this fairly sharp track, so he looks the one to side with.
Selection: Windsor 6.55 Divine Law to win
Newmarket trainer John Gosden appears to hold all the aces in the Bibendum Height of Fashion Stakes (4.25) at Goodwood on Thursday insofar as he saddles the highest and second highest rated fillies in the field, Jellicle Ball and Miss Giler. Preference on this occasion must be for Jellicle Ball, who would be conceding 7lb to her stable companion and 9lb and upwards to her remaining rivals if this were a handicap.
The daughter of Haydock Spring Cup winner Invincible Spirit started the season in promising fashion when failing by just three-quarters of a length to overhaul Redstart in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at Newbury last month. She finished well adrift of winner, Legatissimo, in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month (as did Redstart), but takes a significant drop in class and looks worth another chance to confirm the promise she showed at Newbury.
Of course, Jellicle Ball has an extra quarter of mile to travel, but she has plenty of stamina in the bottom half of her pedigree (courtesy of Prix de l’Arc Triomphe winner Rainbow Quest) and should stay 1 mile 1 furlong and 192 yards on a fairly sharp track like Goodwood. Unfortunately, the bookmakers are well aware of her credentials, but the handicapper doesn’t make too many mistakes and she looks the most likely winner.
Selection: Goodwood 4.25 Jellicle Ball to win