Hawkeyethenoo (14/1 with BetVictor) had Nasri, Brae Hill, Fathsta, Excellent Guest, Advanced and Dhaular Dhar behind when winning the Betfred Victoria Cup on good to firm going at Ascot 12 months ago. But the Scottish raider has a lot more on his plate this year and the latest renewal will be run on truly soft ground for the first time in more than a decade. Fathsta (a general 20/1) may just be the pick of the weights of that group this year but conditions aren’t going to suit many of the 24 due to enter the stalls this time around, though that certainly isn’t the case with Tariq Too.
Punters have already woken up to the fact that Amy Weaver‘s five-year-old is potentially well treated at Ascot. A progressive individual, he had the proverbial ton in hand when scoring on his reappearance at Thirsk three weeks ago. The handicapper has put him up 6lb for his two-and-a-quarter length success but failed to take into account the ease in which he quickened clear of several race-fit rivals in the holding ground. He’s only a general 8/1 for the Victoria Cup but is very much the one to beat and could start a lot shorter with everything in his favour.
The ground is a bit of unknown for King Of Jazz but Michael Bell‘s four-year-old is sure to be popular following his comeback third over a shorter distance at Doncaster. He’s 12/1 with Stan James and Ladbrokes and will be thereabouts if on a going day. Unfortunately, he can run the odd stinker. Lightning Cloud (a general 12/1) won five times as a three-year-old and never stopped improving. He also has winning form over the C&D and Amy Ryan‘s 3lb claim to help his cause but this is a tough race to win without a prep run, which is why the likes of Pastoral Player (12/1 with BetVictor and bodog), Bonnie Brae (a general 12/1) and White Frost (a general 14/1) are also ignored. But Global Village (12/1 with Ladbrokes and totesport) and Rodrigo De Torres (20/1 with bodog, BetVictor and Paddy Power) are both in good form and proven on the ground. New Leyf (28/1 with BetVictor) would be advice a little out of left field as most of his best form is on fast ground but Ed Walker’s six-year-old is the type of quirky individual that often thrives in races like this and may well be worth an each-way bet as he showed up well on his return to action at Kempton.