The Ascot International Handicap (Saturday 3.00pm) is run over 7f and usually attracts a large field of 25+ runners...
TRENDS (since 2006)
- All 11 winners were aged 4 or 5yo
- All of the last 11 winners had their last run in either class 2 or class 3 company
- All of the last 11 winners had run in the previous 45 days (8/11 in the last 25 days)
- 10 of the last 11 winners carried 9-01 or less (after jockey claims) from a rating of 104 or under
- 10 of the last 11 winners last raced in handicap company
- 10 of the last 11 winners were GB or Irish Bred (US Breds are 1 from 28)
- 7 of the last 11 winners had their last run at either Ascot (3) or Newmarket (4)
- 6 of the last 11 winners finished Top 3 last time out (55% of the winners from 36% of the runners)
- All 10 horses that last ran on the all weather have finished unplaced
- Only 1 claiming jockey (3lb) has won in the last 11 years from 41 rides
- Only 1 winner was stepping up in trip compared to their last run from 56 such runners
Mark Johnston has run 25 horses in the race since 1998 for 3 winners and 2 places. He shows a LSP of +£62. He won back to back races in 2013/14 with two 33/1 outsiders and won in 2008 with an 18/1 shot.
Richard Fahey has won the race twice since 2010 and shows a LSP of +£6 on his 17 runners
John Gosden has also won the race twice but those two winners and a further 3 places have come from just 8 runners!
Clive Cox is 2 winners from 5 runners whilst Brian Ellison is 3 places from 6 runners
Jim Goldie is 1 place from 15 runners and Mick Channon is 1 place from 14 runners since 1998.
James Fanshawe has seen all 8 of his runners finish unplaced.
9 of the last 11 winners had run in at least one of the following 3 races that Season...
1st: ABOVE THE REST 2nd: SIR DANCEALOT 3rd: STEADY PACE 4th: TONY CURTIS
1st: ZHUI FENG 2nd: BLAIR HOUSE 3rd: TASHWEEQ 4th: BALLET CONCERTO
1st: FASTNET TEMPEST 2nd: GEORGE WILLIAM 3rd: ZHUI FENG 4th: SHADY McCOY
FIRMAMENT - Had a fantastic 4yo Season last year when winning a competitive, big field handicap at York and then running 2-2-3 in three super tough Ascot handicaps over 7f-1m including the Balmoral on Champions Day. Raised to a rating of 109 he's been competing mainly in Listed and Group company this year where he's run well without showing he's up to that sort of class. Back down to Handicap company this race looks ideal for him to recapture his form and is one of the likely sorts from the top of the weights.
BUCKSTAY - A regular in this type of race over the last few Seasons he's also had some great results including victory in a similar course and distance race in 2015. With plenty of top 5 finishes in some of the biggest handicaps from 6f - 1m he would usually be one for the shortlist but in two runs this season he's finished 25th of 27 in the Wokingham and 17th of 18 in the Bunbury Cup. On the plus side he's dropped down to a rating of 105 which is the lowest since he won that C&D in 2015 but as an out of form 7yo he has more negatives than positives at the moment.
YUFTEN - Won a big pot at Ascot on only his second start for his new connections last October with a lot of these runners behind him and was narrowly defeated in a Listed race on his comeback run on the all weather back in March but things haven't gone his way in either of his last two runs. He disappointed when well fancied for the Lincoln and was given a break before tackling the Hunt Cup. Drawn on the wrong side that day he came home last of the 3 that raced alone on the far side and 23rd of the 29 overall. Back to Ascot, back to 7f and down a lb in the rating he'll probably run a better race than of late but as a 6yo, on balance, he's an unlikely winner.
REMARKABLE - A lightly raced runner from the John Gosden yard who ran 5th in last years Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. Gelded afterwards and not seen again until the end of the Season when running twice in a fortnight at Ascot finishing 12th over 7f and then 2nd over a mile on Champions Day. He began this season running well down the field in the Victoria Cup and followed it up with a last place finish at Epsom when favourite. He put those runs behind him to finish 6th in the Hunt Cup and then was a neck 2nd to Rusamaat at Haydock over 7f. He's creeping up the handicap without winning and as the slight suspicion is he's better over a mile he wouldn't be for me.
ABOVE THE REST - A decent 7f handicapper who goes well at Chester he rounded off last season when scoring by 7 lengths in a class 3 handicap at that track. The handicapper shoved him up 9lb for that easy win but he wasn't disgraced off his new mark when running on in 4th on his Seasonal debut over an inadequate 6f at Ripon. He ran poorly in the Victoria Cup but got closer to the race winner fastnet Tempest when they re-opposed at Chester. He then ran 4th again at York before running the race of his life to win the Bunbury Cup. A 6lb rise for that win may stop this 6yo here although he does have form on the likely soft ground conditions.
SQUATS - Loves Ascot and has run some fine races at the track over 7f+ over the last few Seasons (31240230) with his only blips coming in the Victoria Cup the last 2 years. No apparent reason for the poor run last year as he finished second of 24 in this race on his next start and finished his Season with a fine third in a £175k 7f Ascot handicap from a rating of 103. He started the Season on 104 but after another disappointing run in the Victoria Cup and two defeats over sprint distances he's now back down to 100. That sets him up nicely for a repeat bid here and he is definitely one for the shortlist.
FLAMING SPEAR - Started last season with a second place finish in a Newmarket handicap but after finishing last in a 6f handicap at York when favourite he was off the track for 4 months. He didn't show much on his next two starts on the turf but bounced back to score at 20/1 on the all weather just before Christmas. He followed that up with another win on the all weather in January quickening up smartly to score by a neck but he hasn't been seen since. He has to prove he is as good on turf as he is on the all weather and has a big break to overcome so may just need this run.
JOHNNY BARNES - He's mainly been campaigned in Listed and Group company from 6f-1m throughout his career but hasn't won since scoring in a French Group 3 way back in August 2015. He struggled off a 104 rating the two times he ran in a handicap in 2016 and beat just 2 horses in his first two races of this year. He appreciated the drop in class and a drop in the ratings but probably not the step back up to 7f on his last start when running 3rd in a Haydock Handicap behind Rusamaat off 101. Can be slowly away and too many negatives to be a strong fancy for this.
TOP SCORE - A 3yo from the Saeed Bin Suroor stable who picked up a couple of half decent races in Meydan this Winter before being highly tried in the UAE Derby and 1000 Guineas. No surprise he wasn't good enough in those two races but he was a little disappointing when favourite in a Goodwood handicap before running second last in the Jersey Stakes. His trainer is always worth noting in handicaps but he does still look a little high in the handicap and 3yo's don't have a great record in this race. Overlooked for this.
FASTNET TEMPEST - Lightly raced 4yo who improved throughout the whole of last Season and ended the year rated 88. That looked a handy mark and he showed there were races to be won this Season when only giving way close home in the Spring Cup getting beat just 1/2 length behind Banksea. He went straight on my 'to follow' list as I thought his jockey could have done a little better had he held on to him a little longer and so it turned out as he won his next two starts (including the Victoria Cup) under a more restrained ride. Things didn't go his way at all when well fancied for the Hunt Cup but he still finished strongly to get within 5 lengths of the winner. I think there's still a lot of room to manoeuver off his current mark of 99 and he has a big chance if getting the breaks late on.
BIG TIME - Had to be dropped into a claimer last July to record a win, albeit by 7 lengths, and subsequently moved to the Kevin Ryan yard. He's been steadily rising up the handicap ever since thanks to a few decent placed runs (2 on the all weather) but hasn't shown much in either of his last two starts. Those two runs were both over 6f and the step back up in trip here is likely to help but he's an infrequent winner who is a 6yo and probably prefers an all weather surface. No thanks.
WITHERNSEA - Needs it Good or Softer to be seen at his best and he's probably going to get those conditions this weekend. In fact his recent form over 7f on Good or softer reads 3821242 but on ground firmer than that 3700800. Won over a mile 3 starts back when getting his ground but on good to firm last twice he has been well beaten in the Hunt Cup and Bunbury Cup. He's up 4lb for that last win but that's still the same mark he ran 7th off in this race last year on ground firmer than ideal. Big each way shout.
VISCOUNT BARFIELD - Had a decent 2016 Season winning 3 times in class 3 -5 company but was beginning to look like his new rating in the low 90's was beyond him in his first 4 starts of this year. That all changed when he scored in an 18 runner class 2 handicap at York over 7f and then followed that up with victory in a Listed race at Chester (a track he has a very good record at). The handicapper has stuffed him up an eye watering 17lb since that York handicap win but he gets in here with just a 3lb penalty and is able to run off 97 leaving him theoretically 10lb well in. It's open to debate whether he's a 107 rated animal and away from his beloved Chester I'm not convinced he's that well handicapped.
GOSSIPING - He's been a revelation this year picking up 3 mile races on the all weather from January to March and then taking a quick fire handicap double at Goodwood in May over 7f. Those wins have seen his rating go from 65 to 96 this year but his new mark seemed to anchor him when well fancied for the Bunbury Cup. He was seen running on late though and as he wasn't beaten that far he may be worth another chance given he seems to thrive on having a shortish break between his races.
HEAVENS GUEST - Handicapper is doing his best to help him after originally putting him up to a mark of 108 after his win in this race in 2015 but the horse has been very disappointing this year including last time out when last of 18 from a rating of just 94. A couple of second place finishes in top handicaps last Spring were the last decent bits of form he showed but it's been 8 terrible runs since then where he has shown very little. He's obviously nowhere near as good as he once was but there will come a point where his handicap mark drops so low he is able to spark back to life. I just don't think it will be this weekend.
MOUNT TAHAN - Has been doing well recently without winning having put together 6 consecutive top 5 finishes on the back of a class 4 Beverley handicap win last August. He's gone up 12lb in that time to his current rating of 93 thanks mainly to a 2nd place finish in an Ayr handicap last September. This Season he's had a 5th place in the Lincoln consolation race, a third in a well above average class 3 conditions race at Thirsk and a runner up finish in an all weather class 2 handicap. He's in form, the trip is ideal, he won't mind the ground but he's not yet proved himself in this sort of company. One of the more interesting outsiders.
FAWAAREQ - Improved rapidly for his current trainer in four starts last season winning three on the bounce between May and July. We didn't see him again until April this year when he ran 3rd behind two decent sorts at Haydock. He was then given another break before re-appearing in the Bunbury Cup consolation race where he again finished 3rd. He remains on the same 93 rating as those two runs, has won on the soft and comes from an in form stable. He is definitely one for the shortlist.
SIR RODERIC - He won 5 handicaps between April and July last Season before running second in a Newmarket handicap in early August but has been out of form since finishing stone cold last on his next start. Looking at his form figures it would be easy to conclude things haven't improved this season but he hasn't been beaten that far in some of his defeats including last time out when just 2 1/2 lengths off the winner when 8th of 14. He has dropped down the handicap to be just 2lb higher than his last winning mark, the ground is fine and I wouldn't be giving up on him just yet.
SWIFT APPROVAL - Another one who picked up 5 races last year including a conditions race at Deauville and a Listed race at Cologne on his last two starts of the season. He switched stables before the start of this Season but didn't get off to the best of starts for his new connections when finishing last-last-3rd last in three races between March and April. This did mean his handicap mark dropped from 101 to 92 and after a short break he came back to exploit his new mark with a 4th in the Bunbury Cup consolation race just a length behind Fawaareq. He had won that race last year off the same mark where Withernsea was back in third. Amazingly he got dropped another 2lb for that run but that adjustment has come too late to help him here so if he doesn't show here he'll be one to look out for later in the year.
MAKZEEM - Unraced at 2 and spent most of his 3yo career being campaigned to various degrees of success over 10f. Gelded over the Winter he began this year racing over a mile but folded tamely on the second of those runs in the last half furlong. That convinced his trainer to drop him to 7f and he got an instant result with victory over that distance in a class 2 handicap at Newmarket followed by a runner up spot in the Bunbury Cup consolation race. He's risen to a new high of 98 but now they've found his ideal trip he may not have finished improving yet and with soft ground posing no problems he has to be high on anyone's shortlist.
HAVRE DE PAIX - A maiden after 4 races as a 2yo she won first time up at 3 but something obviously amiss when coming home last of 9 in an Ascot handicap as the 3/1 favourite on her next start. Rank outsider and down the field in four Listed races either side of the English Channel as connections chased some black type for the rest of the Season. Well beaten in two mile handicaps at the start of this Season she was dropped 5lb by the handicapper and responded immediately with a second place in a fillies handicap last time out. She was though beaten 3 1/2 lengths that day and with this being much tougher I'll give her a miss.
STAMP HILL - All was going well with him right up to him scoring in a 6 runner Doncaster handicap over 7f last September. Since then it's been one bad run after another including his four starts this year where he's beaten 1 horse, 2 horses, 2 horses and 0 horses. That last run came in the Bunbury Consolation race and despite racing off a 2lb lower mark here than his last win came off he can't seriously be entertained given his dreadful recent form.
NICHOLAS T - Began his career in national hunt flat races at distances around 2miles before switching to the flat where he's run 15 times for 4 wins. 3 of those wins have come this season along with 3 placed efforts, all on good ground or better, but his last two runs seem to show that the handicapper has finally got his measure. Connections are hoping the drop down to 7f will help get him back infront of the handicapper but this is by far the toughest race he has run in and on softish ground he's easily dismissed.
JACK DEXTER - Incredible to see this once high class sprinter racing off a rating of 88 but at 8yo it probably means his age has finally caught up with him. He's not really shown too much this year from similar ratings although his last run was a lot better than it appears as he raced away from the principals. He's run just 3 times over 7f in his 52 race career but they include a win in a big field handicap over course and distance off 93 and an 8th place finish in this race last year from a rating of 101! Just 1 win in the last 4 seasons is a big negative but he loves soft ground and I wouldn't dismiss his chances out of hand.
SHADY McCOY - Had a great 2015 in class 4 & 5 company winning 4 times from 6 starts. He managed a win in a class 3 at Glorious Goodwood last Season over 7f and has run well on a number of occasions since, most notably when finishing 4th in the Victoria Cup back in May. He's not really built on that run in 4 subsequent starts and was midfield last time out in the Bunbury Cup. Back to Ascot from a 1lb lower mark than his Victoria Cup 4th he could make the placings but on the balance of his recent form he probably won't.
BURNT SUGAR - Group race performer rated at a high of 112 in his earlier years when with Richard Hannon but has been on the downgrade for quite some time. Moved to the Roger Fell yard at the beginning of the year and finally regained winning ways when scoring in a class 3 handicap over 7f on soft at Doncaster in early June. That came off an all time low rating for him of 85 but a 4lb rise in the weights has stopped him in his tracks as he's run poorly in two subsequent runs. The handicapper has him at the moment and a race of this nature is probably beyond him in his current form.
MJJACK - A 3yo from the Karl Burke yard with just 7 runs under his belt. He picked up a couple of class 4 handicaps in the Spring and ran as well as could be expected when raised to Listed company for his next start at the Curragh finishing 7th of 9 behind a number of 100+ rated horses. Obviously highly thought of in the Burke yard but that last run and this entry look a little ambitious given what he has achieved so far in his career.
FAMILY FORTUNES - A 3yo with just 3 starts seems an unlikely winner of the International Handicap even considering that he has won 2 of those 3. All three runs came on the all weather and he's yet to race above class 4 company. A big ask for this inexperienced runner even from the bottom of the weights.
The trends would seem to suggest it's between Fastnet Tempest, Gossiping, Fawaareq and Makseem and I wouldn't put anyone off anyone backing any of those 4 horses.
I do have a bit of a soft spot for FASTNET TEMPEST though and I don't think we've seen the best of him yet. His leave it late style of racing is always going to leave him vulnerable to a hard luck story but he won the Victoria Cup over course and distance and Ryan Moore being onboard is hardly a hindrance to his chances.
Gossiping and Makseem are both well fancied and look big dangers to the selection but it's FAWAAREQ from the in form Owen Burrows stable that looks the biggest danger after his two runs over 7f this term. Last time out he was third in the Bunbury Cup consolation race and the rain won't bother him given he won impressively on the soft last June.
Of the outsiders, Jack Dexter looks well handicapped, Firmament will appreciate the drop back to handicap company, last years second Squats looks to have been targeted for a repeat attempt and Mount Tahan should go close if handling the step up in class. But it's the ground dependent WITHERNSEA who gets the each way vote thanks to conditions looking ideal for a big run.
Selection: FASTNET TEMPEST 7/1
Danger: FAWAAREQ 25/1
Each Way: WITHERNSEA 50/1
We've had a lot of success with the 5T Analysis this Season including pinpointing the winner of the Hunt Cup (33/1), Victoria Cup (7/1), July Cup (11/2), Coral Eclipse (9/1), Queen Anne Stakes (15/8), The Ribblesdale (9/1), The Hambleton Handicap (11/1), The Lincoln 1-2 (20/1 & 14/1) and many more
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THE SECOND HALF
You'll also get access to all 13 horses on my To Follow list including email notification when they run along with runners from the 5 trainer systems, 2 micro systems and the 4 races to follow highlighted earlier this week. Not forgetting the 7 races given the full 5T Treatment.
The email service officially starts on 1st August but for those signing up before then I will also include the Daily Nag Email for Glorious Goodwood, for FREE!
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