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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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Weekend Tips: Son of Sea The Stars can swell the coffers ahead of Ascot

Thom Malone runs through his picks from Saturday’s racing.

Raheen House races at York tomorrow.
Raheen House races at York tomorrow.
Image: John Walton

THE TOPS HATS are being polished and waistcoats and tails are being pressed as we look ahead to the biggest meeting of the flat season, Royal Ascot.

Like all successful festivals, the programme has become a shade bloated — now stretched out over five days. The idiosyncrasies and traditions remain intact, however. 

There is a daily royal parade up the centre of the track, where the sense of pomp, ceremony and self-importance reach comical levels. Betting on the colours of royal attire gets the week’s punting underway.

Clothing is an inescapable fact of the week, the style guide reads a fairly ridiculous 23 pages in length, racecards with similar levels of detail would be welcome. Despite the occasional ridiculousness, it’s a phenomenal week of racing. It’s on TV every day too, so no need to wear the topper.

Before all that though, there’s a busy, if underwhelming weekend of racing to get through. The 3.00 from York will be an Ebor trial of sorts. Mekong brings strong form to the table having finished second to Dee Ex Bee on seasonal debut and will be favourite. However, Raheen House is an intriguing runner in this. Now in the care of William Haggas and gelded, this one-time Classic hope is dropping down the ratings and The Ebor later in the year looks a possible target.

Being a son of Sea The Stars, he may continue to improve with age and he has kept elevated company through the first few years of his career, with some success. Even when dropped in grade, he has been unlucky enough to bump into the likes of Best Solution, a proper 120 rated beast. The conditions of the race mean he shouldn’t meet something of that ilk and at a price, Raheen House (15.00 Saturday, York — 9/2) can swell the offers.

The 3.35 at York isn’t as deep as the rating band suggests it should be, with only two of the field rated north of 99. One horse at a big price who was rated 100 last year is Cosmic Law. The race on Saturday will be run on soft going, something that was in very short supply last season, given the summer we had. Feels a long time ago right now.

Anyway, Cosmic Law hosed up in a Woodcote at Epsom last year on a rain-softened surface before finishing ninth in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

After that, he was disappointing in the Gimcrack. He wasn’t beaten far at Chester on seasonal debut and has only gone up two pounds. He is still on a lower mark than he was last year and has proven form on soft going, at a double-figure price looks too good to pass up.

In Limerick at 3.25, Cruella Dovil (15.25 Saturday, Limerick — SP)  looks an unpenalised winner, and to make it better has actually been dropped a pound by the handicapper for her nose defeat at Sligo.

The winner got first run on Johnny Murtagh’s runner, which is crucial at Sligo, given how tight it is. Limerick is a fairer test and more suitable to a closer. The going is an unknown but the drop in weights and three-year-old allowance will help. Punters won’t have missed her as she was backed into even money when beaten at Sligo. She can get it all back at Limerick on Saturday.

The 5.45 at Limerick is a competitive handicap where Bobby Boy will have to deal with a ten-pound penalty for his win at Navan at the start of the season. Ger Lyons thought this son of Big Bad Bob could be a Lincoln horse, or perhaps he just had a soft handicap mark. He doesn’t anymore.

Mujid (17.45 Saturday, Limerick — SP) is the one with potentially most in the locker. The son of Frankel was a taking winner at Killarney on only his second start. Conor Hoban keeps the ride and while the assessor is taking few chances with an opening mark of 87, the horse who finished second next time out. On pedigree, he should have no issue with the surface and Mujid can get the better of Bobby Boy and co.

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