12.45 Ascot – Clever Cookie
After disappointing last time out when a well-backed favourite, punters could be forgiven for deserting Clever Cookie, however his 4th placed finish at York may not turn out to be as average as first thought, and with conditions to suit, he represents a solid each-way bet in the Group 2, 2mile race at Ascot.
Clever Cookie is an interesting horse, as unlike many he started his career under National Hunt rules before switching to the flat (it is usually done the other way around). A Grade 2 winner over hurdles, his aptitude for running on the turf was immediately shown when he won a Doncaster maiden decisively. Won a further two races back to back before his form tailed off. However, returned a revitalised runner this season, winning a Group 3 contest and then a Listed race. Was well backed in Group 1 company over 12 furlongs at Ascot, but found that too much of an ask, and then came the York run last time out. Peter Niven’s runner likes a big field and a strong pace to aim at, and he didn’t get that at York – however, those racing conditions are far likelier today.
After starting the season so well, it is impossible to say that Clever Cookie has reached the ceiling of his ability having had relatively few starts on the flat. The race looks very open on paper and we expect Clever Cookie to be settled early and come through with a strong late run. At odds of +700 , he is good value each-way.
1.20 Ascot – Muhaarar
Charles Hills wouldn’t be the trainer of choice for a large number of bettors, but there is no denying he has an exceptionally talented horse in the form of Muhaarar. The drop back to 6 furlongs this season has done wonders for the horse, and he has to be considered one of the world’s best sprinters. Despite some stiff opposition, he should be able to make it four wins in a row back at Ascot – a track where he demolished a field of 18 back in the summer, and odds of 3.25 seem generous.
A relatively unfancied +1000 shot for the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot at the Royal meeting, Muhaarar showed a devastating turn of foot to win by just shy of 4 lengths. Followed that up with success in the July Cup and then made it a Group 1 hat trick in France – an ultra-impressive feat. Although the ground is a little slower than he has encountered for a while, the horse did win maiden on soft ground at Doncaster, so should be fine.
The unbeaten Twilight Son could be Muhaarar’s main rival. Unbeaten in 5 starts, Henry Candy’s 3 year old has progressed rapidly through handicap company and won the Sprint Cup at Haydock last time out. He has improved with every start and has top jockey Ryan Moore on his back, but has to take another step forward to match the selection and although it should be a great race, we favour the Hills runner.
12.45 Ascot – Clever Cookie Win – +700 – Bet365
1.20 Ascot – Muhaarar Win – +225 – William Hill
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