Ascot host some terrific Autumn flat action this weekend and Friday’s six-runner Noel Murless Stakes (3.45) looks a cracker, writes CHARLIE CROASDALE.
All six three-year-old have claims on their best form but I’m sticking with Raheen House to award his St Leger backers with compensation here.
Brian Meehan’s charge was a decisive winner of the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket’s July Fesitval and booked his spot in the final classic of the year. He was never getting to the leaders but did make significant headway three out and briefly looked like getting competitive.
Jamie Spencer – successful last time out on Raheen House – is back on board and I’m hopeful he can sit quietly as Hochfeld makes this a true test and unleash him late to collar rivals Mount Moriah and Weekender late on.
The Veolia Handicap (2.00) gets us up and running over seven furlongs and I fancy Shady McCoy could be about to snap his long losing run, with Ryan Moore an eye-cataching booking.
Ian Williams’ seven-year-old is winless in 14 starts (last won at Goodwood in July 2016) but is back down to a mark of 85, 2lb lower than when last successful.
Shady McCoy shaped very well in a course and distance handicap last month, on similar soft ground as will be encountered tomorrow, twice hampered in the run at crucial stages with George Wood enduring a luckless passage.
Handed a plum draw in stall 17, dropping down to class four level and with Moore now taking over the steering, this looks a tailor-made opportunity to keep up the spectacular recent form of the Williams yard (8-20 in last 14 days).
In the Original Harrogate Water Handicap (3.10) over six furlongs, Richard Fahey holds a strong chance with The Feathered Nest.
Fahey’s progressive three-year-old filly was last seen getting up late on to land a strong-looking class two handicap at Newmarket in late July, travelling powerfully before ridden into the lead under 3lb claimer Aaron Jones.
Getting up cosily by a neck means The Feathered Nest is pushed up just 2lb for that success and looks like she could she be ahead of the handicapper off a mark of 86, with the cheekpieces retained and Paul Hanagan taking over in the plate.
The aforementioned Ian Williams yard are flying at present and they can add to their winning tally over at Chelmsford City with Miracle Garden in a 16-runner seven furlong handicap (7.15) tonight.
Having spent a while away from the winners’ enclosure, the five-year-old gelding returned to form at Wolverhampton last time out and is stepped back up in trip today under Richard Kingscote.
A former sprint specialist, Williams clearly feels a greater test of stamina is required for Miracle Garden and he looks a value play to defy a 4lb rise.
Finally, Diagnostic looks set to break her maiden tag in the CRR Maiden Stakes (9.15).
William Haggas’ three-year-old was unlucky not to get her head in front over this distance at Chepstow on debut but travelled nicely and it would be majorly disappointing if she can’t beat her three rivals tonight with the excellent Moore booked to ride.
See full story in the Leader