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Preview 21 June 2008

4.20 Ascot Wokingham Heritage Handicap Sprint Class 2 6F Good to firm

Horses to consider

Edge Closer (20/1) - Has the tough task under the weight he has today but has already proven to be a top class handicap in his short sprint career and Richard Hannon And Richard Hughes have already teamed up to good effect this meeting so far and with the jockey being one of the leading big handicap tacticians so far this season, his mount must have a strong chance of running a big race even under 137lbs of weight on his back. The quick ground is no problem for this horse that shows plenty of dash and he has already proven his liking for a stiff track and comes here in very sound form having put the useful yard stick Borderlescott in his place at the stiff finishing track of Salisbury just six days ago and under a penalty for that win shouldn't hinder him to much. The draw may have a say as he is drawn in the middle and my pace counter points towards a low draw. Hughes in this keenly tested cavalierly charge will need to switch in behind runners to track the pace and come down the stand side rail to have a chance of winning and even though top weights don't have the worse recent record in this race, it may just tell on this young horse who has his heaviest task to date.

Prime Defender (25/1) - has the use of cheek pieces for the first time today and that could enable this horse to run straight and true from the front down the favoured pace side. Shows plenty of dash the Hills have been quite quiet so far at this meeting and this horse has been geared towards this race this season in my View. The quick ground will no doubt help this horse who has a strong firm ground action and he doesn't look like he is putting it all in most of the time which is another trait to think he just grips the ground and runs well with himself, keeping a level gallop from the front is needed and Michael Hills will be no doubt in the strong drive position in the final furlong here to fend of the challengers when they come at him in the final 3rd. Has had some pretty hard tasks so far in his sprint career and the latest run at Windsor when 3rd to Balthazzar's Gift who was placed in this 12 months ago reads well as they changed the tactics on the more testing going for him to get the trip, the quick ground will enable him to adopt his more familiar tactics and can see him reverse the form with Lipocco despite the 4lbs worse terms here today. Edge Closer finished behind with Hoh Mike who caught the eye in the King Stand on Tuesday.

Big Timer (33/1) - Highly thought of when with Ian Semple and has a blistering turn of foot when the conditions underfoot are ideal and with the ground on the fast side he could well spring a surprise after narrowly failing to get up last time at Haydock in a group 3 race over seven furlongs. The drop back in trip may have been a question mark if it was set to be a slow run race but this isn't likely to be a slow run race and his come from behind tactics may be seen to good effect of a end to end charge. May need those in front to cut their throats for him to land this race but he is nicely weighted for a charge at the leaders and the new team of Linda Perrert and Influenced by Ian Semple is making head waves upon the northern circuit. Quick ground will suit and this stiff 6F should be ideal for his stamina to shine, he is a big price at double carpet but may pay the price for being against the pace in this handicap drawn in 28.

Off The Record (20/1) - made All to land the big sprint handicap on 2000 Guineas and looks very much on the up grade, if the ground was slightly faster that day he may have won with a little bit more in hand then the narrow margin he did that day and even though Ascot is stiffer then the Rowley Mile, that run was a good prep for this handicap today in which he comes into in form having ran well behind the impressive Fleeting Spirit who was below herself in the King Stand. The step back up to six furlongs will suit and the ground should be more the ideal for the horse. No Richard Hughes today but he is a horse that has gone well on countless occasions for his current jockey. Drawn in 17 he has the same potential problem as Edge Closer with the stronger pace being drawn on the stand side of the course and may cut out the running with Edge Closer down the centre of the track drifting into the stronger pace down the stand side within the final furlong. Victory here would dispel any chance of the stewards cup for the horse and maybe he will be a group 3 sprinter by the time the season is out and the July Cup maybe his prime target back at his beloved Newmarket.

Tombi (11/1) - blitzed a field of decent enough handicappers last time at York and showed plenty of pace when asked a question by Ryan Moore that day. Howard Johnson has landed one Royal Ascot race as his string continues to get back to the form they had back in 2005 at the Cheltenham festival and this gelded son of Johannesburg can dispel any chances of going over hurdles in the winter if he was to land this race today. Plenty of dash was shown at York on a similar dry surface and he looked a cut above his rivals that day. Was beaten 4L by Tamagin at Doncaster last season but has improved since that day and would be no surprise if he was to reverse that form today even though he has 10lbs rise in the weights to overcome today for that York win. Maybe he likes a flatter track then this stiff 6F and that could be the undoing for this horse. Drawn with the pace he is likely to track it under Robert Winston before trying to burst through and take the lead from Tamagin and Prime Defender down that side of the track. Horse is going the right way and is a live contender in this.

Fullandby (25/1) - Never really involved over five furlongs at Haydock behind Fleeting spirit the return to six furlongs on a stiff track is ideal for this horse that can run big races and then totally disappoint. Needs everything in his favours in terms of field and track and handles almost all sorts of going. The quick ground is no problem and the way he finished at Newmarket he has a very live chance of over hauling his victor that day off the record. Has ran well here twice over further in the Victoria handicap and a normal handicap against a seven furlong specialist and is long overdue a tile at this race today and six furlongs. His stamina will enable his come from behind tactics to be a big player in this race and he certainly has the gears to overcome a big field. The draw has him in the middle of the track but he can track the pace from coming from behind, weather he is ready to take the next step up in class after this race is anyone's guess as he looks likely to regress over the next 12 months and this would be his peak. Big race specialist and young PJ Mcdonald deserve his chance at the big meeting.

Ratings - Edge closer 123, Prime defender 121, Big-timer, Off the record, Tombi, Fullandby 120, Abraham Lincoln, Lipocco, Intrepid Jack, Nota Bene, Sunrise Safari, Bentong 118, New Freedom, Tamagin 117, Knot In Wood, Something, King's Apostle 116, Vitznau 115, Dark Islander, Machinist, Viking Spirit, Indian Trail 114, Conquest, Northern Fling 113, Biniou 111, Beaver Patrol 109, Capricorn Run 100

Verdict  Hopefully I have limited it down to the win amongst the contenders as I see it and the draw is likely to play a factor with the pace being drawn down the low number side which was so favoured in the Hunt Cup (all tracked over). They should all stick to the shortest route in this sprint that will be fast and could well see the course record smashed today with the ground so far for the six furlongs sprints. There has been some drizzle around but they didn't water after racing so there is every chance this quick drying course has kept it speed for this race. Big-timer has been done no favours by the draw and even though the first four homes last year were drawn in the high numbers it is unlikely that will be the case again in my view. Tombi is likely to track the pace on the stand side while Fullandby, Edge Closer and Off the Record are likely to be out towards the middle to low numbers, Prime Defender has been laid out for this well in my view and under Michael Hills can prove that he is a top class sprinter and can last this race out well from the front, he would be a good bet for a place at the price. Something is telling me that Edge Closer will be ran out of it under his weight and Fullandby may just be below this class. Prime Defender looks a solid enough option and can create a minor shock in this handicap with Tombi feared most of the fancied runners in this handicap.

Selection  2 pts win Prime Defender @ 25/1 (BF32.0)

Well Chief