John is happy to hand over this Bouquet!

Bouquet, somewhat unlucky when an unfancied 18/1 shot on debut at Newmarket eight  weeks ago, will represent a disappointment to trainer(s) John and Thady Gosden if the stoutly-bred Dark Angel filly isn’t able to go gain ‘winning brackets’ in an eight-runner Fillies’ Novice Stakes over a mile of ‘good’ ground Ascot this afternoon.

The sire was a top-grade sprinter trained by Barry Hills, when I was involved with his Berkshire yard but the dam of Bouquet is closely-related to all-the-way 2020 Epsom Derby winner Serpentine, trained by Aidan O’Brien; stamina will not be an issue and apparently ‘Big John’ is quietly-confident about the future of Bouquet, mount of long-serving stable jockey Rav Havlin.

The ‘A-team’ combination has been a tremendous force this century, Havlin accepts being subordinated by legendary Frankie Dettori but no ‘number two’ ever had a better, more productive job; success breeds success and he’s really grown by virtue of the confidence Gosden has shown. The number of outside rides Rav gets is significant, testimony to his experience and dedication.

Like so many other high profile trainers nowadays John doesn’t relish winning first-up because of the tough 7lbs penalties, quite a burden for two-year-olds but the ‘first day at school’ is so often apparent when they reappear; the Gosden modus operandi is usually jump out and outclass inferior rivals.

Scrutiny of this particular field reveals Bouquet could well prove a case in point; her close third (of nine), under talented apprentice Georgia Cox, to Richard Hannon-trained Ardbraccan and heavily-backed Godolphin-owned Calm Skies, represents solid time-handicap form and odds will be much shorter this time.

Later on Wolverhampton tapeta, under magnificent floodlighting, third floor diners will be able to watch an intriguing nine-runner Novice Stakes over five furlongs which looks within capabilities of Richard Hughes’ runner Rosa Mystica, successful in a Goodwood seller back in June, since when the Mehmas filly has thrived and achieved a succession of useful time-figures.

Hughes’s yard is now in good fettle and the dual ex-champion jockey has significantly booked burgeoning apprentice Tyler Heard, who claims 5lbs allowance, which should tilt the balance in her favour. Tremendous ‘dash’ on a smashing menu!

Hills’ recent course and distance winner Tuscan is fancied to follow-up in division one of the Novice Stakes over six furlongs of ‘good to soft’ Thirsk but a penalty looks savage and preference is for Hannon’s once-raced 77000 guineas yearling purchase, Sharvara, eighth (of 16) first-up at York last month to Hoo Yah Mal from a moderate draw.

This time next week it’s the St Leger and I’m hoping to win enough for a cruise on The Mediterranean!

Selections, Thirsk, 2.15 Sharvara (e.w); Ascot, 2.35 Bouquet; Wolverhampton, 6.30 Rosa Mystica (e.w).  

Yesterday Altraif maintained our ‘winner a day’ sequence at Kempton but I’m looking for better, all the time!

 Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019