14:20 Ascot: Classy Jack Dexter can out mudlark Maarek

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Likely SP favourite Maarek will have plenty of friends as he bids to add a second successive British Champions Sprint win to the maiden Group 1 success he achieved at Longchamp last time, but opposing him with Jim Goldie’s 5/1 shot Jack Dexter could be the shrewd move.

First run in 1979 and originally known as the Diadem Stakes, this Group 2 affair has yet to be retained in its long history.

The testing ground that Maarek has so thrived upon is likely to be in place to aid his chances of thumbing his nose to the annals of time, but Jack Dexter’s record on ground slower than good-to-soft puts even Barry Lalor’s mudlark in the shade.

The latter’s victory last year came for David Nagle, so there is no guarantee that the training strategy that led to last year’s success will have been employed once more.

Maarek has won a very respectable six of his 13 runs on ground described as soft or worse, yet Jim Goldie’s four-year-old easily trumps that with a six-race unbeaten record on soft or heavy going.

A two-and-three-quarter-length third off top weight in the ultra competitive Ayr Gold Cup over the Champions Sprint trip last time out testifies to his status as a fierce competitor.

Meanwhile, he is clearly in possession of no little class if an under two-length fourth to Sole Power in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot is anything to go by.

That was a 5f trip on good ground that would have been both shorter and faster than ideal and Jack Dexter was also hindered in his run to the line.

A reproduction of that effort behind Sole Power and Meydan 5f record-holder Shea Shea would give Maarek plenty to worry about.

Furthermore, trends of eight four-year-old winners in the last 10 runnings and as many winners aged four or younger in that time also count for Scottish-trained four-year-old Jack Dexter and against Lalor’s Ireland-based five-year-old.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.