Ascot Stakes preview: Buildmeupbuttercup can add to Mullins tally in Royal Ascot staying contest

Published on: June 17, 2019
Author: David Metcalf
2019 Ascot Stakes preview from Royal Ascot includes Willie Mullins

When it comes into the Ascot Stakes, top Irish National Hunt trainer Willie Mullins is the man to follow in the 2m 4f handicap on the opening day of Royal Ascot (17:00).

The Closutton handler has won the race four times since 2002, including the last two renewals.

His sole representative this time around is Buildmeupbuttercup, who is set to be partnered by Ryan Moore and heads the betting at 9/2 with Bethard to add to add to that tally.

This five-year-old mare ran well in a Grade 2 bumper over 2m 1f at the Aintree Grand National Festival in 2018 when fifth of 20 to Getaway Katie Mai, and backed that up with a solid 3 1/4 lengths fourth of nine to Isabel De Urbina in a 1m 4f Listed contest at Goodwood.

Buildmeupbuttercup went on to score first time up over hurdles for Mullins and has since been highly tried in graded contests.

The daughter of St Leger winner Sixties Icon now reverts to the level off a handicap mark of 91, and that makes her look potentially well-treated – especially on that aforementioned Goodwood run.

This stamina sapping test will also play to the strengths of Buildmeupbuttercup, and the fact that connections have secured the services of Moore suggests they clearly mean business.

Other pluses are that Buildmeupbuttercup is versatile as regards ground and hails from in super form – operating at a strike rate of 33 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing.

So, taking everything into account, there is nothing not to like about profile of Buildmeupbuttercup. She looks a worthy favourite and the one they all have to beat.

Snow Falcon weighted to go well

Fellow Irish raider Snow Falcon is another that looks to be on a potentially handy mark now having his attention switched back to the level, so is well worth considering at the 14/1 on offer with BetVictor.

This Noel Meade trained nine-year-old is better known as a smart hurdler/chaser and rated as high as 157 in both those codes.

His last success of the Flat came at Killarney in August 2017 where he won a 12-runner handicap by 2 3/4 lengths from Bayan off a mark 88.

Snow Falcon travelled strongly throughout and scored with tons in hand, before finishing a fine 2 1/2 lengths second of 24 to Lord Erskine in the Irish Cesarewitch at Navan off 97.

He is now able to race in this off just 2lb higher; so, in relation to his National Hunt ratings, his current mark of 99 gives him a big shout from a handicapping perspective,

Snow Falcon also has proven form in big fields, no stamina worries, and has ground conditions in his favour.

A wide draw in stall 16 is not ideal, but given his run-style it may not be a hindrance as he is likely to be dropped in anyway before hopefully being delivered late.

With bookmakers offering enhanced place terms on this wide-open race with many sorts crossing over from jumps, Snow Falcon looks a big each-way player.

Fun Mac a lively outsider

The Hughie Morrison trained Fun Mac is not the easiest to catch right, but has become well-treated and, if putting his best foot forward, looks weighted to go well.

This eight-year-old is on a long losing run having not scored since landing a Listed contest over an extended 1m 7f at Maisons-Laffitte in France back in July 2017 off an official rating of 102.

Fun Mac has, however, posted some solid efforts in defeat. They include when a six-length runner-up to subsequent Group 3 winner Magic Circle in the 2018 running of the Chester Cup off a mark of 101,

The son of Shirocco also ran well on seasonal reappearance in this year’s renewal of thet 2m 2f contest at the Roodee when an 8 3/4 lengths fifth of 15 to Making Miracles off 93.

Fun Mac has since been dropped another couple of pounds and his revised rating of 91 is the lowest he has raced off in four years.

It gives him major claims at the weights on the pick of his form – if building on his run in the Chester Cup. He is certainly entitled to strip fitter for that outing and Fun Mac handles the forecast going.

Having also run well in this in 2015 when runner-up off 7lb higher, he is simply too well-treated to ignore and therefore also appeals each-way at 16/1 with Betfred.