The flat racing season really gets going this weekend with Saturday's 3:50 at Ascot being the Victoria Cup, oftentimes used as launchpad for the Royal Meeting in June.
This Group 2 handicap on May 10 is a real challenge for punters with a massive field of 29 runners fighting it out over seven furlongs on the famous Ascot straight.
Purcell, of the Andrew Balding yard, is the current leader in the betting after winning both races so far this year, but this will be his first race of the season not on an all-weather circuit.
Read on for a look at the runners, latest odds and post positions.
|2014 Victoria Cup Field|
|8||18||Dont Bother Me||16-1|
|11||19||Louis the Pious||16-1|
|18||17||Don't Call Me||33-1|
|19||12||Burn the Boats||20-1|
|26||22||Boots and Spurs||20-1|
Purcell should go off the favourite for this year's Victoria Cup, but he will be up against some stiff competition as well as the lottery factor, which accompanies any race with such a big field.
There is plenty for punters to pick from with some good returns possible from some long-odds outsiders.
Hayley Turner rides old favourite Pastoral Player who could be good value as he was a force to be reckoned with in his prime, although he has not won since 2012 and has not showed any real recent form.
Loving Spirit must class Ascot as a favourite course, having placed in two of his last three races on the famous turf.
He has Robert Tart riding him and should be a threat so long as he can be in with a shout at the start and put in a strong finish.
Marc Monaghan will be guiding Dont Bother Me, and this horse could be in with a chance despite not winning since August two years ago.
However, he has run some decent races in defeat, including in the 2000 Guineas last year where he finished very respectably in the middle of the pack as a 100-1 shot.
Redvers landed a handicap win over course and distance last year, beating out Gabriel's Lad in the process, and could certainly cause some trouble here.
Frankie Dettori rides Ayaar while Tom Queally will guide Excellent Guest, who he rode to victory in this race last year.
He managed to just hold off Bertiewhittle by half a length despite a challenge from Cape Classic who was looking the likely winner, per Daily Mail.
With a field this big it's almost impossible to call this race, and over a sprint on the Ascot straight anything could happen.
But the Highclere favourite will be looked at as the one to beat, and Queally will be looking to make it a double as performances in this could lead to a run out in the Royal Hunt Cup in June.
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