After a 5 for 5 last Saturday and a 16/1 winner on Sunday, we’re back in action again today with a look at Saturday’s racing. Those sorts of days don’t come around very often – hope you all got on and topped up your Cheltenham bank!
There are six meetings across the U.K and Ireland – I’ll do my best to replicate last week but I’m not making any promises! Hope you all bag a winner or two whatever you back.
First we start with the 3:00 at Ascot, a handicap hurdle which is due to be run over 2 miles and 3f.
Several of these hold strong chances including Doesyourdogbite, Templeross and Air Horse One.
Cyrname, Loup de Love and Ordo Ab Chao are others of interest too but the one I’m going for is the Gary Moore trained Krugermac.
This horse is probably the least exposed horse in the race.
He was 2nd in a really good bumper on his first start at the Punchestown festival a few seasons back and hacked up over this course and distance on soft ground when having his first run for this yard back in 2015.
He ran 2nd on his next run but picked up an injury that day and was off the track for well over a year.
Making his return to the track recently, he showed ability to a point and then he just faded out of it. Looked like he badly needed that run but should be much fitter today.
Scrapes into the bottom of this open looking handicap today and will be getting weight from all and he’s proven over this course, distance and ground.
Given it’s his 2nd run back from a layoff there is the risk that he could bounce but if he doesn’t I can see him running a big race.
Ordo Ab Chao has not run for 680 days, this horse was due to go novice chasing last season but he got he got pneumonia. His trainer said he’ll go novice chasing with it after this run.
He’s one to watch with interest today for the future. Will be interesting to see if he retains any of his ability. KRUGERMAC each way at 7/1 is my selection for this race though.
The Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase is the feature race on the card.
It’s due to be run over a trip of 2 miles and 5f which is equivalent to the Ryanair trip at at Cheltenham. It’s fair to say most of these will end up in that race too.
Cue Card is the one they all have to beat here. This horse came into his own last season, travelling very strongly in the Gold Cup until coming a cropper.
He’s been as good as ever this season tho, beating Coneygree in the Betfair Chase at Haydock earlier in the season and finished runner up to stablemate Thistlecrack in the King George on his last run.
It looks as if Colin Tizzard is going the Ryanair route with this horse given that he has the first two in the betting in the Gold Cup.
Cue Card really should win this race but you won’t be winning much backing it at 2/5 though – Im looking for a bit more bang for my buck.
I fancied Traffic Fluide last week to come runner up to Altior but he faded out of it badly.
I have a feeling the step up in trip is sure to suit him today but I couldn’t have him given how bad he ran last week.
Shantou Flyer is unexposed and if he improved on his form he’d have a chance but I can’t see it winning.
Irish Cavailer beat Cue Card in the Charlie Hall chase earlier in the season but was a long way behind it on their next meeting when Cue Card was much fitter.
I can’t see him getting close to Cue Card today.
Royal Regatta loves this track and he should run his race again but yet again he won’t get close to Cue Card.
The one I like in this race is Taquin Du Seuil at plenty more value.
I think he has a fair chance of giving Cue Card a run for his money. This horse has improved a lot this season, winning a decent handicap at Cheltenham earlier in the season.
He gave away a lot of weight that day and won easy. He also ran a cracker when 5th in the Lexus at Christmas behind Djackadam and Outlander.
The drop back in trip will suit him today but it’s risky backing against Cue Card though.
I’m going to advise you back TAQUIN DU SEUIL in the betting W/O Cue Card market at around 2/1.
After the feature race of the day we’re on to the 4:10 at Ascot which is 3 mile handicap hurdle.
Top weights Bon Enfant and Fortunate George should have a decent chance in this.
This represents a drop in grade for these two horses. It does mean though that they have to give away lumps of weight. I’m much rather take them on with an outsider.
SPELLBOUND was a horse I really liked a few seasons back but unfortunately got injured and spent a spell on the sidelines.
He has has two runs back this season and usually horses that come back from a layoff often strike on their 3rd run back.
This horse is well in on his old form and I think Spellbound could place at a very handy 14/1 each way.
There is also a decent card at Haydock today where the first is due off at 1:30. The Grand National Trial at 3:15 is the feature race on the card.
The National weights came out during the week.
Given that the weights cannot change the winner of this would be well in for the National itself. I wouldn’t worry about recent form in this race and look more at horses that have proven stamina. Also weight doesn’t play much of a factor in this as 3 of the last 10 winners carried top weight.
There are four runners in this field that I like for the National itself and they are Blacklion, Vicente, Houblon Des Obeaux and Vieux Lion Rouge. Vicente won the Scottish Grand National last year so he’s got proven stamina but he has it to do with Houblon Des Obeaux on their run in the Welsh National.
The Venetia Williams trained Houblon Des Obeaux always runs a solid race in this staying events.
He often finds one or two too good though. Vieux Lion Rouge was a really good winner of the Becher Chase over the large obstacles at Aintree earlier in the season. This one was 7th in last years national and should be right there in it again this year.
This horse has a course win to his name and I think he’ll run a very big race today. Vintage Clouds is another with course form who has a chance.
My selection for the race though is the top weight BLACKLION at 9/2.
This horse was a top class novice chaser last season and he won the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He’s not a really nice weight for the National and I give him a live chance in that too.
This horse has had 3 runs this season, running a cracker in the G2 Charlie Hall Chase and also ran a good race in the Hennessy when 5th.
That run and his last run at Wetherby suggests that he’s crying out for a trip like this.
His trainer who has trained several National winners believe this horse could be as good as the likes of Binderee as a stayer. He’s an unexposed stayer and he really is the class act in this race.
The Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton has proven to be a decent Champion Hurdle trial in recent times. Yanworth who was 2nd in the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival last season comes here on the back of a win in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
He did pick up a small injury in recent weeks though which tempers enthusiasm here.
I couldn’t be backing this horse at 4/6.
He took a long while to warm up in the Christmas Hurdle and people in the know have recently said that this horse may step up in trip and run in the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham.
This trip could prove a bit on the sharp side for him and I’m not sure how fit is is given the interrupted preparation – He may need this run.
Saying that he could well go and win this but there are much safer 4/6 chances than this one.
I’m going to take him on with Sceau Royal at 5/1 who is the forgotten horse in the Champion Hurdle betting.
This horse looked to have improved an awful lot on last season when winning races at Cheltenham in October and over this course and distance in November. He beat Ravin Black by 9l when giving him 8lb. Buveur D’air recent beat that horse by 1l off level weights.
Buveur D’air is 7/2 for the Champion Hurdle while Sceau Royal is 33/1.
Sceau Royal didn’t look himself when 4th in the Fighting Fifth hurdle when last seen at the end of November. He should be freshened up given the break and I think he will go close today.
SCEAU ROYAL could well get first run on Yanworth and take this.
Today’s racing looks much tougher to find winners than last Saturdays so I suggest doing a small stakes Lucky 31 on my five selections today:
- 3:00 Ascot Krugermac 7/1
- 3:35 Ascot Taquin Du Seuil 2/1 W/O Cue Card
- 4:10 Ascot Spellbound 14/1 e/w
- 3:15 Haydock Blacklion 9/2
- 2:45 Wincanton Sceau Royal 5/1