Last year’s Champions Day at Ascot was dominated by the Irish, as four out of the six races went across to the emerald isle.
The two that stayed this side of the Irish Sea went to the mighty Frankel in the Champion Stakes, and the 7f apprentice handicap which closes the card went across Hadrian’s Wall to the Scottish-trained Jack Dexter.
Jim Goldie’s progressive soft ground sprinter can win again on this year’s card, but in the Champion Sprint.
The market currently has a very nice look to it, as should Ascot receive any more rain in the next few days (it is forecast), then there are only two horses that would interest me – last year’s winner and recent cosy Prix De L’Abbaye winner Maarek, and Jack Dexter.
Maarek is currently a best priced 3/1 favourite, whereas Jack can be backed at 7/1 each-way with Ladbrokes.
Given the likelihood of testing ground, the race could cut up a little at declaration time, and I’d be amazed if Jack Dexter isn’t nearer the 4/1 mark at the off.
He loves Ascot – not only did he win on the card 12 months ago but he ran a blinder in the King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal meeting, when only beaten 1¾ lengths behind Sole Power. He also loves soft ground and has been out of the first three only once on ground with any ‘soft’ in the description.
He comes into the race a fresh horse too, as he had a three month mid-summer break before reappearing in the Ayr Gold Cup, where he ran a blinder off top weight and a handicap mark of 110. Just tiring in the closing stages, that run will have put Jack spot on for what was always going to be his major objective for the season.
Champion Sprint, Jack Dexter (each-way) – 7/1 (Ladbrokes)