Heaven’s Guest can rise to the Challenge at Ascot
Today’s big betting race is the Challenge Cup at Ascot (3.50), and Heaven’s Guest looks to have leading claims of landing the 7f handicap for the second year running.
This Richard Fahey trained gelding is a tough sort, as he showed when holding on tenaciously to beat Bertiewhittle in this contest 12 months ago.
The four-year-old then had a spell in the wilderness, before bouncing right back to his best when swooping late to beat Absolutely So in the valuable Bunbury Cup at Newmarket in July.
This son of Dark Angel backed that up with a solid fourth of 29 to Heavy Metal over course and distance in the International Stakes. After being held-up off the pace here and not getting the clearest of runs, he finished with a real rattle to be beaten just 1 1/2 lengths.
Heaven’s Guest then posted two below par efforts before returning to form last time out when a course fourth in the Ayr Gold Cup over 6f, a race he also finished fourth in last year before going on to bag this valuable prize.
Although now running off 5lb higher than last year, Heaven’s Guest has shown he can be competitive off his current rating of 105 and gets the services of talented apprentice George Challoner.
Up-and-coming jockey Challoner is terrific value for his 3lb claim, and Heaven’s Guest looks weighted to run a huge race when taking into account.
There are dangers galore in a wide open contest, and two that made my shortlist were Prince’s Trust and Redvers.
The former ran out an easy winner on his first start for William Haggas when slamming Flow by three lengths at Yarmouth on his first start for 407 days.
Prince’s Trust barely had to come out of second gear and, although the handicapper has hit the gelding with a 12lb rise, that was just the four-year-old’s fifth start and he remains unexposed and open to significant improvement.
Redvers is trained by Ed Vaughan and invariably runs well in races of this nature.
The six-year-old is a dual course and distance winner who is ideally suited by big fields and a strong pace, and is running off a mark just 3lb higher than when last successful.
This son of Ishiguru comes into the contest of the back of two solid efforts, but does need everything to drop right as he is a tricky customer who downs tools when hitting the front.
However, if jockey Ted Durcan can times things right, there is little doubt that Redvers has the ability to go very close.