Special Meaning leads Johnston’s Ascot raiding party
Mark Johnston likes nothing more than to scoop the big handicaps down south and he is doubly represented in the two most competitive races on Ascot’s Saturday card. The grey Galician has been on the go since March and put up his best performance when running away with the valuable International Stakes.
He is accompanied by Shebebi in the opening seven-furlong handicap. Glen Moss landed a huge gamble at Newbury last month but could not overcome a wide draw at Goodwood last time and weakened into seventh.
Bunbury Cup winner Field Of Dream and Haydock runner-up Ascription are others with chances in a wide open race. Johnston is also doubly represented in the Ladbrokes Mobile Handicap at 3.30 with Royal Skies and the favourite Special Meaning.
The latter is very difficult to assess having chalked up four consecutive victories at a lower level, the last of them coming in the Lanark Silver Bell at Hamilton Park. Royal Skies battled on gamely to win over course and distance last time out and both horses are best up with the pace.
Goodwood Mirage was unlucky to come up against the well-handicapped Retirement Plan last time out whilst Luca Cumani’s Elhaame is seeking a hat-trick. Café Society has been well supported in the ante-post market on this race after an unlucky defeat here in July.
Andrew Balding’s Casual Smile could be the answer to the Conditions race at 3.00 after a very promising debut at Newmarket. The filly is by Derby winner Sea The Stars out of Oaks winner Casual Look and she should relish the mile here.
Feedyah and Hot Coffee are hard to split having finished seventh and eighth respectively behind Sandiva at Deauville. Adhwaa looked very one-paced behind Ihtimal at Newmarket and is another that should appreciate the step up to a mile.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Plover could never land a blow over seven furlongs at Newmarket last time but is worth another chance in the Ritz Club Fillies’ Stakes at 4.40. The daughter of Oasis Dream won her maiden at Kempton in June and should be able to make her mark in handicap company.
Selections: 1.55 Galician, 2.25 Amood, 3.00 Casual Smile (NAP), 3.30 Special Meaning, 4.05 Flying Bear, 4.40 Plover, 5.10 Dungannon (nb)