Jumps trainers continue to be a big force in stayers contests on the level and they can be said to have dominated few races so comprehensively in recent years as the Ascot Stakes, which has gone the way of handlers more often concerned with the winter game in eight of the last 11 runnings.
Continuing our pen portrait of a likely victor, the history books show 15 of the last 18 scorers in this 2m4f handicap to have been aged between four and five years old, whilst eight of the last 11 victors have been officially rated between 83 and 93.
A history of relatively low-rated and youthful winners suggest we’re looking for an improving type and among the 10 runners remaining after the application of the aforementioned stipulations Midnight Oil stands out as the sole survivor.
Readied by a handler who knows a thing or two about winning staying races at Royal Ascot in Willie Mullins – who trained Simenon to win the Ascot Stakes and the Queen Alexandra Stakes at last year’s meeting – and the gelding should have plenty of staying power being by Derby winner Motivator out of a mare by another Derby winner in Nashwan.
Having raced just eight times on the flat, Mullins’ five-year-old should have plenty of scope for improvement over the 2m4f trip, which is an entire mile further than anything he’s taken on before in this code.
He’ll be ably assisted by champion jockey Richard Hughes who gets the leg-up, having ridden 2009 winner Judgethemoment for Jane Chapple-Hyam.
Midnight Oil was last seen on the flat when running a decent fifth in a 1m4f handicap at this very track when trying to give 13lbs to a winner who is now rated 15lbs higher and went on to score in his next race.
Having posted two wins and two seconds on his last four starts, he’s proved himself in good nick over hurdles and could be primed to post consecutive wins in the race for his trainer at a healthy 10/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.