Saturday 4 October 2013

2.40 Ascot – Grosvenor Casinos Cumberland Lodge Stakes

The current going of ‘soft’ will be music to Roger Varian’s ears as he sends out MIJHAAR for this small field, competitive Group Three. The prospect of more rain, while not needed for him to win, looks as though it would suit Mijhaar better than the majority of his rivals too.

On a stiff track like Ascot, on soft ground, in this company he is one of four horses I deem good enough to win over this 12 furlong trip. Make no mistake about it these horses will need to see out the distance thoroughly and this son of Shirocco ticks this box.

In fact, he ticks a number of boxes. One of the leading angles in this race is this five-year-old gelding is almost certain to get the run of the race, being the only confirmed front runner in. All of his rivals either like to sit off the pace or be held up. This is a huge plus in a seven runner field.

Given this angle, it’s important to have a jockey to carry out the game plan or set the fractions as they say. And, in Jamie Spencer we have such a rider. Now, many associate Spencer with hold up tactics, but the former Champion jockey is underrated from the front.

As well as having variables such as ground and pace to suit, Mijhaar also ticks the horses for courses box. His two runs here at Ascot, in good company have yielded a sound fourth and an excellent third.

Another angle in researching this race that I came across is how well Roger Varian’s inmate runs off extended breaks. He’s coming off a 64 day absence and his form figures off a break of 60 days or greater read 131. His trainer’s improved form recently, after a quiet mid-summer spell also ties in with this given Mijhaar was disappointing in his last effort.

The final plug I’ll make for his selection is that he offers value. Currently 8/1 in a seven runner race, in which I can only have four prospects of winning, including Mijhaar, he rates a 4-1 shot in my book. Eight to one is generous and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go off shorter. Hopefully Roger Varian has him ready to fire as this looks a great opportunity.

Advice

2.5pts win MIJHAAR @8/1 (general)

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