Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Jonathan Brady Racegoers arrive at Ascot Racecourse this week.
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Weekend tipping: Invincible Army can conquer at Ascot
It’s all about Ascot.

AS THE WEEKEND rolls in, Royal Ascot is the gift that keeps on giving.

Despite the weather and the slower ground than usual, the biggest names have lit up the biggest stage.

Frankie Dettori’s four-timer culminating in another Gold Cup win and Aidan OBrien’s genius with the campaigning of Circus Maximus just two from another cracking royal meeting.

Blue Point will look to become the first horse since Choisir to land the Ascot Double. Charlie Appleby’s stable star won the Kings’ Stand on Tuesday and steps up to six furlongs for the feature tomorrow. He has won over course and distance in the past, but the price is a little skinny now. Invincible Army (4.20 Saturday, Ascot – 9/2) has had this race as his target since the beginning of the season and the presence of Blue Point has led to him drifting making him a very attractive betting proposition.

Invincible Army has done everything right this year and is two out of two so far. The horse has clearly improved physically over the winter and James Tate had left plenty of condition on him ahead of last ran at York. He was big as a bull that day but still won easily by over two lengths.

It is a struggle to find a chink in this horse’s armour. He has won on the going, he is drawn well, he has clearly improved since last year, the stable is in form, the presence of the Coronation Cup has diluted the quality of the race. Yes, Blue Point is a massive danger, but he ran a hard race four days ago whereas Invincible Army is fresh as paint. In the Diamond Jubilee at 4.20 on Saturday Invincible Army can conquer.

The Jersey Stakes goes to post at 3.05 on Saturday and the Roger Charlton trained Momkin (3.05 Saturday, Ascot – 9/1) brings some very strong form to the table. He was unsighted in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and drops back in trip and down in class here. Excuses were plentiful and legitimate in the Colts’ Classic so at a double figure price looks worth a bet. He is by Bated Breath so should handle conditions and finished second to Skrardu in his Guineas prep run.

Last year’s Derby winner returns to the track for the first time since his Epsom glory. The long absence and slow ground would have to temper enthusiasm about the colt’s chances. Defoe (3.40 Saturday, Ascot – 4/1) on the other hand is in red hot form. The Dalakhani colt got the better of last year’s St Leger winner when last seen in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. Defoe was a taking winner of the Geoffrey Freer on soft going back in 2017 and twice placed in group ones on a slower surface too. Defoe can score in the Hardwicke on Saturday at 3.40.

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The Wokingham is the feature handicap on Saturday and Spring Loaded  (5.00 Saturday, Ascot – 20/1) can cause a relative upset in what would be a huge success for Irish Apprentice jockey Dylan Hogan. Hogan’s is a name familiar to Friday night flat fans during the winter, he was a regular in Dundalk prior to his UK switch. David Simcock is Hogan’s official employer, but Paul Darcy calls on his services on Saturday. His mount Spring Loaded has won at the course and has been dropped two pounds for his seasonal debut. That race was a very hot affair with the Tin Man in fourth.

The Wokingham is no easy task, but a high draw, proven liking for the going, course form, a good rider, a liking for big field handicaps and a drop by the handicap mean there are plenty of factors in his favour.

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