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Royal Ascot – Bold bid in Wolferton expected from Sniper

In a big-field handicap where all bar one of the intended runners are rated 100+ by the assessor, you might be saying “woah, what a race!”. However, to my occasionally wonky eye, this looks like an average enough sort of contest that’s filled by an ocean of horses more likely to bark at me than neigh. Now that I’ve said such a thing, there’s little doubt that it’ll be an unbelievable blanket finish where all of those involved show the toughness of Rock Of Gibraltar. Hopefully not!


The market starting point is Bold Sniper for Sir Michael Soute and it’s also my ending point, as I think that the 4-year-old colt – who’s owned by The Queen – will be exceptionally hard to beat off 102 and 5/2 looks fair enough, for all that it’s not mind-blowing value if you’re that way inclined.


I’ve always rated the horse quite highly and, indeed, backed him when he ran in the King George V h’cap over 1m 4f at this meeting last year. He was off a mark of 90 there but had a wide draw, raced too keenly for his own good and couldn’t get involved in the race at a time that would have favoured him. Despite that, he ran an exceptional race and can gain some compensation this time.


He won over the same C&D next time out, beating one of today’s rivals – Cafe Society – in the process (Stoute’s charge is 5lbs better off now) and can be forgiven a Goodwood flop on his final start of 2013 as he didn’t appear to be in love with the quirky nature of that track. All of those runs were over the previously mentioned 1m 4f but he reappeared in a Newmarket 1m 1f handicap last month and performed better than ever, finishing third despite shaping as if in need of the outing and, again, pulling too hard for his own good.


The handicapper was impressed enough to stick his mark up by 3lbs and I think that’s fully justified. He’s up a furlong in trip to 1m 2f which, long-term at least, may prove to be his optimum, returns to a scene he knows well and, most importantly, is in a race where I feel he’s by some way the best treated performer. The draw in stall 1 could end up being a huge plus or a huge negative, but for now I’m hoping it’s the former and would be quite disappointed were the gelding to find a way to get beaten.


Of course, Ascot can get all handicappers beaten in one way or another (Frankel was nearly done here once upon a time, and he’s no handicapper!), but this fellow will eventually make his way into lowly Group races and hopefully that’s after a success today. His closest market rival, Cafe Society, looks in need of 1m 4f and has been sold to head out to Australia, presumably for a tilt at the Melbourne Cup in due course, whilst the likes of Dick Doughtywylie and Saxo Jack will have to find extra from somewhere if they’re to get the better of Bold Sniper. Granted luck in-running and a proper race-pace to sit off, I think that the Stoute camp will be celebrating come a few minutes after 3:05pm.


Selection for the Wolferton Handicap (3:05 Ascot; Friday, 20th June):


Bold Sniper Silks Bold Sniper – 5/2, available generally.


Post by James Boyle.


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