Two of the most competitive handicaps of the whole week round off the card at Royal Ascot on Wednesday and triple course scorer Dark Shift is a good bet in the Royal Hunt Cup (17.00).
What: Royal Ascot Day Two
Where: Ascot, Berkshire
When: 14:30 to 18:10
How to watch: Sports Live Streaming, ITV and Sky Sports Racing
Dark Shift @ 10/1
Improvised @ 15/2
DARK SHIFT made rapid progress at the end of last season when landing his last two victories at this track and the latest course win came over this distance, when he kept on well at the line.
This race will have been on trainer Charlie Hills' radar since and Dark Shift was given a spin at the track on his seasonal reappearance when midfield in the Victoria Cup.
That was almost certainly just a prep run and he needed to win his last start at Nottingham to get into this race.
Dark Shift didn't disappoint. Not only did he win that 1m1/2f handicap, but he did it in some style by three lengths from Dubai Mirage, putting in some impressive sectionals at the finish.
That earned him a 5lb penalty, which means he sneaks into this compressed handicap at the bottom of the weights off 9st 1lb, and he is lightly raced and open to plenty of improvement.
The good to firm ground is an unknown as he was well held on his sole start on faster than good and all of his best form is on softer. However, his pedigree suggests he will like it quick.
He is by Dark Angel out of an Oasis Dream mare and horses bred along that cross are 18-98 on ground that officially had firm in the description. That is a healthy 18 per cent strike-rate.
Ascot - Horse Racing: Day Two Preview
Ascot - Horse Racing: Keith Melrose's Day Two Tips
The Kensington Palace Stakes (18.10) is wide open and IMPROVISED makes each-way appeal.
She is bred to be suited by a mile and further, but has done all of her racing over 6f-7f and the step up a furlong in trip looks certain to bring out the best in this well-bred Raven's Pass filly.
Described as a "big, backward filly" by Danny Tudhope after winning a novice at Catterick last year, Improvised appears to be on the up now and she confirmed that impression when splitting a pair of higher-rated three-year-olds on unfavoured terms at Musselburgh last time.
She is due to go up 10lb for finishing between two rivals who were rated in the 90s in that Listed event ten days ago, but that rise has yet to kick in and she is able to race off her old mark of 84 here. Improvised is evidently well-handicapped if she can repeat that sort of form.
She remains lightly raced and open to more progress on just her tenth start and she won a maiden at Ripon on good to firm ground last season. The quicker the going the better for her.
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