Victoria Cup Tips: Fox Champion to score in hot handicap at Ascot

Victoria Cup Tips: A bumper field will do battle in this Ascot contest
Victoria Cup Tips: A bumper field will do battle in this Ascot contest

Steve Chambers tackles Saturday's hugely competitive Victoria Cup at Ascot, which sees a bumper field head to the 7f feature event...

A monstrous field of near-30 runners will line up for the Victoria Cup at Ascot on Saturday afternoon, in a race that could throw up some notable clues for the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, and the bookmakers highlight what a competitive event it is by going 10/1 the field, at the time of writing.

Acquitted, Fox Champion, Chiefofchiefs and Motakhayyel are four prominent figures in the betting, and that quartet look to have excellent chances of making the frame, at least. The first named was narrowly beaten in the Spring Mile Handicap at Doncaster last month, and having been only upped 1lb has to be considered here, if building on that effort. Chiefofchiefs produced a career best at Royal Ascot last year by winning the Silver Wokingham, and while this is a tougher assignment he has the potential to excel at the Berkshire venue once again. Fifth in Listed company last time out, the Charlie Fellowes-trained raider returns to handicaps here, but now 4lbs higher than that Royal win, he may just come unstuck against a couple of rivals.

The two that catch the eye of the aforementioned quartet are Fox Champion and Motakhayyel. The former was a top-class three-year-old, who tasted victory in the German 2000 Guineas, but having competed in the St James's Palace Stakes at the 2019 Royal meeting, he has dropped significantly in standard, and was unable to land a blow in the Royal Hunt Cup last season. Stopped at a crucial time when looking to make a surge for victory at Haydock last time out, Fox Champion is attractively handicapped off a mark of 95, and if he can produce his best looks to be far too good for his rivals here.

Richard Hannon's Motakhayyel won the Buckingham Palace Handicap at last year's Royal Ascot, and then went on to follow up in the Bunbury Cup to emphasise his love for big-runner fields. Second on his comeback run at Thirsk, the five-year-old should come on significantly, but now rated 111 he could just be in the handicapper's grip, and he may have to settle for minor honours.

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Richard Spencer's Keyser Soze was no match for Motakhayyel in the Buckingham Palace last season, but he showed his best form last month by claiming a half-length success at Ascot. Only given a 2lb rise for that win, Spencer's charge has the potential improve once again, and could be an each-way player.

David O'Meara's Escobar won the Balmoral Handicap at the 2019 British Champions Day off a mark of 105, and lines up off 103 here, so has to be respected on a return to Ascot, while Jamie Osborne's Raising Sand is another with winning form at Ascot in a competitive handicap contest, as he won the International Stakes earlier in his career, and he has to warrant respect towards the head of the handicap.

Hugely progressive last season, Clive Cox's River Nymph was unable to land any sort of blow in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on his comeback run, but he could well come on significantly for that run, and warrants a second look, while the Richard Fahey-trained Zip was a winner last time out at Newcastle, and has snuck in at the bottom of the weights, and could outrun huge odds.

Of the others that make appeal, Andrew Balding's Symbolize showed like he was finding his best form when second at Newmarket in April, while the likes of Jumaira Bay and Greenside are another duo worth mentioning in what is a fiercely tough conundrum for punters.

But, it's the classy Fox Champion, who can strike in this event, and use this race as a potential springboard back into Group company later in the season.

Victoria Cup
Fox Champion silk

Fox Champion

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