Secret Brief to return to winning ways at Ascot
The 4.20 at Ascot on Friday is the one-mile Stella Artois Handicap for three-year-olds and upwards with eight runners set to face the starter.
The one to be on here could be the Godolphin colt Secret Brief, a three-year-old son of Shamardal out of Discreet Brief by Darshaan.
He was a very progressive juvenile when trained by Mark Johnston, winning two valuable sales races at Newmarket. He finished last in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes on his final start that season and was bought by Godolphin and sent to Charlie Appleby.
He ran a good race when second to Consort at Sandown in May and then finished third to Code Red at the Epsom Derby meeting. He then lost his way and was returned to handicap company. Formerly a bold front-runner, he has been settled towards the rear in his most recent starts. He gave a clear indication that his turn was not far away when running on late to finish third to Farlow at Doncaster over seven furlongs last month.
He is racing off only a 1lb higher mark on Friday and has an extra furlong to travel under William Buick.
Early Morning has won two of his last four races for Harry Dunlop but has been raised 11lbs for his latest victory at Haydock. He led with a quarter of a mile to travel and was eased down to win by two and a quarter lengths. That looked like a significant improvement on the grey’s previous efforts and James Doyle takes the ride.
Spark Plug beat subsequent Royal Hunt Cup winner Gm Hopkins at Newbury in May but was unfortunate to fall in the big race next time. His two races since suggest that his confidence may have been dented by that nasty experience.
Gratzie was given a brilliant ride by Silvestre De Sousa to win at Epsom in June and then finished a respectable fourth to Kodi Bear at Windsor. The filly has not shown a great deal since while top weight Birdman has been well beaten in his last two starts.
The pick of the remainder may be Marcret, although the gelding seems to reserve his best form for the tight turns of Chester. This course is not likely to suit James Unett’s eight-year-old who looks thoroughly exposed. Secret Brief can beat Early Morning to secure his first victory in the colours of Godolphin.
Secret Brief 4.20 Ascot Friday @4.50 Sportsbet