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Victoria Cup Preview: Stars Have Aligned Just In Time For Taurean

This weekend’s meeting at Ascot represents the last time for racegoers to visit the Berkshire track before the Royal Meeting starts in June, and the notoriously competitive Victoria Cup is the feature on Saturday’s card.

Victoria Cup Preview: Stars Have Aligned Just In Time For Taurean

This weekend’s meeting at Ascot represents the last time for racegoers to visit the Berkshire track before the Royal Meeting starts in June, and the notoriously competitive Victoria Cup is the feature on Saturday’s card.

Taurean Star
Taurean Star Picture:Racing and Sports

Open to horses aged four and over, there are 27 runners set to go to post for this year’s renewal, and over the past 10 years, it has been horses at the younger end of the age spectrum who have dominated, with eight of the last 10 winners aged four or five.

Current favourite for the race Fastnet Tempest fits the bill of previous winners, being a relatively lightly-raced four-year-old, who has the ability to prove better than his current mark. William Haggas’ gelding no doubt has the talent to become a fixture in these races if putting his mind to it, but he let himself down in the Spring Cup at Newbury on return – and not for the first time – after looking to have the race sewn up when striking on over a furlong out, only to hang left and get overhauled late on. What he did for 90% of the race at Newbury is rare to see in such a handicap, and you can expect Josephine Gordon will be trying to play him as late as possible, though with plenty of interesting types in opposition, he is perhaps one to take on.


It was hard not to be impressed by Taurean Star Horseform’s winning return at Yarmouth this month, showing his effectiveness at this trip, and winning with a bit more in hand than the neck winning margin suggests. The handicapper has only raised him 2 lb for that success, and the demands of this race should suit this strong-travelling type down to the ground. His jockey Jamie Spencer often splits opinion with punters, but there aren’t many jockeys who ride Ascot’s straight course better than him.

Remarkable Horseform is another four-year-old, but unlike the majority in this field, he sits towards the top end of the weights thanks to a good campaign last year. He won his first two starts, and wasn’t beaten far in all his races afterwards, including in the Jersey Stakes and Balmoral Handicap at this course. A strongly-run seven-furlongs will suit him fine and he has to be high on the shortlist under a good-value claimer in Kieran Shoemark. John Gosden’s other runner GM Hopkins goes well here too, winning the Hunt Cup in 2015 and making a winning reappearance in a listed event last season (both at 1m). He largely struggled after that success last season, and he faces no easy task off top weight here, but his record when fresh offers hope of a worthy display.

Other notable contenders include Above The Rest Horseform, who was put up 7 lb for winning a handicap at Chester on his final start last season, but he shaped as though he’s plenty more to offer this year when an eye-catching fourth on return at Ripon last month. The step back up to seven furlongs will suit and he has to have a chance. George William proved he’s cut out for big-field handicaps when finishing well from a long way back in the Spring Cup (head behind Fastnet Tempest) last time and he may not have done improving yet. Kadrizzi Horseform brings some solid all-weather form to the table and won a six-furlong handicap here in August, so should be thereabouts if proving as effective at this trip back on turf.

Outback Traveller Horseform was sent off second favourite in this race last year and it’s hard to think he only finished mid-field considering he travelled smoothly to the front two furlongs out. He went on to win the Wokingham on his next start and, though he has a fair record when fresh, and has won over C&D, all roads could lead to the Royal Meeting again for him. Donncha is a standing dish in these top-end handicaps and he should give his running again, though he is more or less summed up by his mark, and will again likely prove vulnerable from a win perspective.

A fly in the ointment could perhaps be Kevin Ryan’s Ride Like The Wind Horseform, who is making his belated handicap debut aged five. A €75,000 purchase from France in October, he has shown some useful form in a couple of listed events in recent months, but a mark of 102 could prove generous if returning to the smart form he was capable of in France, and with the excellent Lewis Edmunds’ taking 5 lb off, he needs considering.

In summary, this is an expectedly competitive renewal, but Taurean Star is the one who stands out, he shapes like the type that will thrive in this big-field scenario, and he looked better than ever when winning cosily on his return this month.

Recommended bet:

Back Taurean Star in the Victoria Cup at 16/1
Timeform



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