Ascot preview: Challenge Cup (15.45)
Gabriel’s Lad has a good record at Ascot and looks decent each-way value in a typically wide open and competitive renewal of the Challenge Cup (15.45).
Trained by Dennis Coakley, the gelding has won twice and finished in the frame once in six starts at the venue, and his last success came over course and distance when landing the 2014 running of the ultra-competitive 25-runner Victoria Cup.
The six-year-old ran on strongly to beat Glen Moss by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths off a mark of 102, and went on to round off the campaign with a cracking fourth to Absolutely So in a Listed contest at York off an official rating of 109.
Gabriel’s Lad is now able to race in this off 104, just 2lb higher than when last successful, and that gives him major claims at the weights on the pick of his form.
The son of Dark Angel also comes into the contest a fresh horse after just two starts this season.
After shaping as if badly needing the run on his belated return to acttion over course and distance at the beginning of last month after 379 days on the sidelines. Gabriel’s Lad put in an improved effort last time out when an eye-catching sixth of nine to Hathal in a Listed contest at Newbury.
Gabriel’s Lad kept on from off the pace under tender handling to be beaten 3 3/4 lengths, and should now be spot on to do himself justice.
To me he looks to have been trained with this race in mind, and with Oisin Murphy in the saddle everything looks in place for a huge run.
There are plenty of dangers, and Heaven’s Guest has good form in big field handicaps and looks sure to go well.
The Richard Fahey trained gelding is a tough sort who landed this race back in 2013, and also ran very well to finish third in last year’s renewal off a mark of 105.
Heaven’s Guest has looked as good as ever this season, landing a conditions’ contest at Thirsk and a Listed contest at Naas.
The five-year-old also ran a stormer when third in the Bunbury Cup, before going on to land the 22-runner International Stakes over course and distance off a rating of 103.
Although now 4lb higher in the weights, Heaven’s Guest runs the track well and has the services off Sammy Jo Bell who is terrific value for her 3lb claim.
Taking it into account, Heaven’s Guest is just 1lb higher than when last successful and looks weighted to run a big race.
Coral’s top tip: Gabriel’s Lad has a good record at the track and looks well worth an each-way wager. Heaven’s Guest is another big player for in-form trainer Richard Fahey