Expert Eye: Four horses to back at Ascot on Friday September 3

Ascot's card on Friday September 3 comes under the scrutiny of Planet Sport experts, with four horses flagged up as potential bets.

Selections:

3.05 Ascot - Love Is Golden

3.40 Ascot - Fantastic Fox

4.10 Ascot - Equiano Springs (nap)

4.45 Ascot - Northern Express

3.05 Ascot - Love Is Golden

Mark Johnston's in-form Love Is Golden looks the answer to the 1m4f handicap given that he can run off bottom weight and is effectively 2lb well in compared to future handicaps.

The three-year-old has been allotted a new rating of 89 - runs off 87 here - and could rate higher still by the end of the season as he's clearly still improving, based on his two most recent efforts.

While he had to settle for second spot behind Mahrajaan at Hamilton seven days ago, that had to go down an another personal best as the winner, who was bringing up his hat-trick, is a potential Group horse in the making, and he was nicely clear of the rest of the field.

Previously, he'd defeated Solent Gateway at Chester and that form now looks even better with the runner-up absolutely hacking up on his return to the same track.

Johnston, who is not adverse to turning his horses out again quickly to strike while the iron is hot, looks to have found the selection a good opportunity to get back to winning ways against four opponents, who are conceding him upwards of 11lb.

Mark Johnston has found a good opportunity for Love Is Golden
Mark Johnston has found a good opportunity for Love Is Golden

3.40 Ascot - Fantastic Fox

It could pay to concentrate on the two three-year-old runners in the mile handicap on the card, and preference is for Fantastic Fox.

Roger Varian's charge has a progressive profile and was winning for the second time this season when taking a falsely run affair on soft ground at Haydock last time, despite failing to settle.

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Previously, he'd gone down fighting to be beaten less than a length in a race over course and distance, showing he was just as affective on faster ground like today's in the process.

His jockey on that occasion, Silvestre De Sousa (back on board), described him as "babyish" after the race, so there's good reason to think he can keep on improving as he matures and he looks the type to land a big handicap, possibly over a bit further - he has a Cambridgeshire entry.

Silvestre De Sousa is back on board the improving Fantastic Fox
Silvestre De Sousa is back on board the improving Fantastic Fox

His main opponent this afternoon, according to the betting, is one-time Derby fancy Uncle Bryn, who has proved disappointing in both his starts this season and has been gelded since his last run.

That operation needs to have worked for him to figure here and, while that can't be ruled out, the selection looks the safest bet.

4.10 Ascot - Equiano Springs

All eight of the runners in this 6f handicap can be given a chance of sorts, but none appeal more at the odds than Tom Tate's Equiano Springs, who is better than his recent form figures would suggest and has become very well treated indeed.

The seven-year-old last tasted success in August of last year off a mark of 84, that coming over today's trip on fast ground at Newmarket, and he later finished second in a hot handicap run over course and distance (similar ground) off an 8lb higher perch.

He can run off just 80 this afternoon and served notice that he was ready to take advantage of his slipping mark when a close-up fifth over 7f at Haydock 20 days ago, easily his best race of the season so far.

His connections must sense his winning turn is near as they have snapped up the services of Ryan Moore, and his mount looks something to bet on now back over his ideal trip and with ground conditions to suit.

Ryan Moore is an eye-catching booking for Equiano Springs
Ryan Moore is an eye-catching booking for Equiano Springs

4.45 Ascot - Northern Express

Papacito looks sure to go off as favourite for the closing 7f handicap as he arrives here unbeaten after winning both his starts in novice events, but he could come unstuck against the more experienced Northern Express.

Michael Dods' charge can be forgiven his defeat in a three-runner contest run on heavy ground at Haydock last month, and is best judged on his previous performance in winning a competitive handicap at York (7f, good to firm) by almost two lengths.

Ridden more patiently on that occasion than on previous starts, he produced a dramatic turn of foot to run down the favourite Pagan, a winner since, and we can expect today's jockey Jamie Spencer to deploy similar tactics here.

Out of a mare who won valuable handicaps at a mile and was Group placed, there is likely much more to come from the selection and today's stiff 7f should suit him ideally.

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