Victoria Cup Preview – Saturday 8th May
Last updated: May 6, 2021 by Leon Marshal
The big betting race at Ascot on Saturday is the £75,000 Victoria Cup over seven furlongs. Fastnet Tempest (2017) was the only winning favourite in the past ten years and there have been plenty of shock results. Excellent Guest (2013) returned at 25-1 while Flash Fire (2016) and Ripp Orf (2018) were both 20-1 outsiders. The most recent renewal was in 2019 with Cape Byron winning at 8-1 for Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni.
Motakhayyel tops the weights at Ascot
The weights are headed by Richard Hannon’s Motakhayyel, the winner of the Buckingham Palace Handicap and the Bunbury Cup last season. He was raised 13lbs in the weights for those two successes and struggled in Group 3 and Listed company on his final two outings. He was favourite for a Conditions race at Thirsk last month but could not sustain his challenge and was beaten two and a quarter lengths by Toro Strike.
Fox Champion is prominent in the betting after an eye-catching run at Haydock on his seasonal debut. That was his first start for Ralph Beckett’s stable and he was beaten only a length into third behind Persuasion. He has tumbled down the handicap after a disappointing season and could be very well treated if able to recapture his juvenile form, although any further rain would be a concern.
Acquitted started last season by chasing home the classy Palace Pier at Newcastle. He finished last on both subsequent outings and was gelded in the summer. He was well supported for the Spring Mile at Doncaster and was beaten only a neck by Artistic Rifles. Hugo Palmer’s four-year-old has only been put up 1lb for that effort.
Chiefofchiefs sprang a 20-1 surprise in the Silver Wokingham at Royal Ascot last season. He later ran well here behind Blue Mist and never saw any daylight when fifth at Doncaster on his seasonal reappearance. That form has been boosted by fourth-placed Summerghand and Jamie Spencer will be trying to thread his way through this big field.
Keyser Soze bids to follow up recent course win
Keyser Soze has often flattered only to deceive in these big handicaps but did nothing wrong when winning here last month. He started favourite for this race back in 2018 but finished tenth from a bad draw. His recent win ended a 16-race losing streak and 5lbs claimer Angus Villiers retains the ride.
Richard Hughes saddles Karibana who has been gelded since finishing second to Epic Endeavour at Newbury last September. He has had problems with the starting stalls in the past but he could be one to follow this season. Hayley Turner has been booked to ride Walhaan for James Tate. The five-year-old showed decent form in handicaps last season, notably when second to Tempus here in September.
River Nymph is a course and distance winner but he has been well beaten over a mile on his last two outings. The drop back to seven furlongs could bring about an improvement in the son of Cable Bay who faded in the Lincoln last time. Andrew Balding has his string in fine form at the start of the season and he relies on Symbolize, a four-year-old son of Starspangledbanner. He chased home Double Or Bubble at Newmarket over this distance last month and has been raised 1lb. He was third in the Jersey Stakes last season at Royal Ascot and acts on a softer surface.
Escobar is another to consider after running on nicely without being knocked about behind Finest Sound at Haydock. He has not won since taking the Balmoral Handicap over a mile in heavy ground here in October 2019 but, with more rain forecast, he could reward each-way support.
Symbolise @16-1 bet365
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4,5
The Victoria Cup is due off at 3.40 at Ascot on Saturday 8th May and will be televised live on ITV4.