Ascot Saturday Preview - 11/05/19

2:15 - Setting Sail

The opening race from Ascot on Saturday afternoon is the Les Ambassadeurs Casino Handicap over just shy of a mile-and-a-half, and Setting Sail will certainly look to do just that towards the winning post.

Sporting the infamous blue silks of Godolphin, Setting Sail made his return to the racetrack at Wolverhampton around three weeks ago after eighteen months on the sidelines, which he converted into a win.

Still eligible to race in a novice stakes, he absolutely obliterated the field winning by a six-length, showing all the signs that the promise he portrayed as a juvenile for Charlie Appleby is still very much there.

Back fit, he can crack on with life again in his first start in a handicap.

2:50 - Barsanti

Just the four runners head for the Listed Carey Group Buckhounds Stakes - again over a mile-and-a-half, and Barsanti is the selection to follow up his victory in this race last year.

Likeable type who is a regular at the top level, the seven-year-old did not win on any of his next four outings, but was only a neck down on Communique in the Listed Godolphin Stakes at Newmarket back in September - form that has been boosted since this term.

Barsanti prevailed by neck himself over Mirage Dancer twelve months ago; who went onto win the Group Three Sapphire Glorious Stakes at Glorious Stakes, along with good two-length cushion to the third and today's repeat rival Salouen.

Goes well fresh as proved before, and should go very close indeed.

3:25 - Bella Ragazza

Bella Ragazza looks a leading player in the St. James's Wealth Management British EBF Premier Fillies' Handicap over the straight mile - if she's on a going day.

She finished her first season on the track with a record of three victories from seven starts, striking at Goodwood twice and Newmarket most recently in October in a Class Two Handicap; beating a good filly of William Haggas' yard called Move Swiftly.

The four-year-old has been raised 8lb as a result of her triumph at HQ, but further progress should be likely this year for Hughie Morrison's charge.

Handles bumpy tracks, and likes a bit of cut in the ground. Ascot's wavy dynamics should play into her favour.

4:00 - Ripp Orf 10/1 & Raising Sand 12/1

The Tote Victoria Cup takes centre stage at 4:00pm; a heritage handicap over seven furlongs and we have selected two course specialists in Ripp Orf and Raising Sand in this big field.

Ripp Orf was absolutely superb here last term, including when winning this race under this jock in front of former Royal Hunt Cup winner Zhui Feng twelve months ago.

In four starts at the royal course, the five-year-old won twice and placed second and third in big fields in the other two contests - a tremendous record at a course he will love to be back racing at.

His record elsewhere does not seem to match, so it is a bit of gamble but something at Ascot just seems to bring out the best of him.

Raising Sand is another with a very good record in handicaps at the Berkshire venue, particularly when the ground is softer than good which it is sure to be with all the recent rain.

The seven-year-old ran here five times consecutively in 2017, and took the Shergar Cup Mile over a furlong extra than what he is racing over today.

Probably the only drawback, he was a good sixth to Sharjah Bridge in the Balmoral Handicap on Champions Day, and should be ready to fire on first start of the campaign.

Horses for courses.

4:35 - Clan Royale

Next up is the Barbados Novice Stakes over five furlongs, and with all of these bar one un-raced, we will take our chances on one of the newcomers named Clan Royale.

Racing in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid - most notably known for the likes of Postponed and Appeared, Clan Royale represents a top yard on his racecourse debut.

He is a well-bred son of Siyouni - ironically out of a mare called Ascot Family, who's dam was a good seven furlong horse back in the day.

This juvenile was sold for 200,000 as a yearling, and well worth close attention in the betting in this open affair.

5:10 - Martineo

Martineo will be looking to carry top weight to victory in the Stella Artois Handicap over six furlongs, a Class Four event with another large group of participants.

The four-year-old has been progressing steadily on the all-weather recently, completing a hat-trick of wins on his first for trainer John Butler at Newcastle.

His two other victories came in Class Five events at Wolverhampton, and has now risen to a mark of 81 as a result.

Best form here, and needs to put his best hoof forward on belated return to the turf of which he is yet to win on.

5:45 - Double Reflection

Double Reflection can take the finale - the Stella Artois Silk Series Lady Riders' Fillies' Handicap over ten furlongs, and the filly can make use of Lisa O'Neill's three-pound claim.

Consistent front-runner who was pretty useful last season, including on a soft surface which saw her go close when second at Nottingham in the month of May.

Ran well on latest appearance at Brighton when denied by Ashazuri, and should be on the scene once again in colours who have been doing well for some time now.

When The Fun Stops. Stop.