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Soft Going at Ascot Alters the Equation


It looks like soggy conditions will continue at Ascot as rain is in the forecast for Saturday's fixture of the royal meeting. The going had actually been changed to soft before the off of the final race on Friday and further moisture looks set to make the weekend card a true test of power for the bulk of the contenders.

Speaking to the media, clerk of the course Chris Stickles declared, “I don't think it is really soft at the moment but there are further heavy showers forecast on Saturday with a further 3-4mm.” Rain is in the forecast to begin just around lunchtime.

Much of the handicapping done for the Queen Alexandra Stakes at 5:35 will need to be reworked as it now appears to be a staying contest to end all staying contests – over 2m5f on what will likely be extremely soft going considering it runs fifth on the card. Elyaadi (Singspiel) is set to be the early favourite with a 7/2 price tag being floated.

A deep field is set to contest the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes with nearly a dozen and a half horses in the mix for this one. Godolphin saddles Delegator (Dansili) and he is taking plenty of money in the early wagering. Punters will obviously be wondering about the Mickael Barzalona factor in this contest. Racegoers can expect a solid run on him at the windows pre-race.

Hitchens (Acclamation) is set to build on his victory at the Curragh in a Group 3 just a few weeks back. At 33/1 he will likely prove to be a popular each-way selection. Johnny Murtagh and Bewitched (Dansili) continue to draw support from all angles, having been upgraded to 111 after her seasonal debut at Leopardstown when she captured the Group 3 Ballycorus Stakes. She also boasts a prominent course & distance reference after his seasonal bow last year in the Group 3 Bengough Stakes.

The question really seems to be can Bewitched win a Group 1 against males at Royal Ascot? Currently, the punters are saying “yes she can.”

The Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes draws a field of 10 in what now looks a much more daunting 1m4f with the ground listed in its current conditions. A number of prominent sires have interests in this one with Dubawi, Giant's Causeway, Kingmambo, Cape Cross, Hernando, Silvano and Medaglia D'Oro all represented. Godolphin send out three in a real statement of intent from Saeed Bin Suroor.  

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