Not a spectacular card at Ascot this afternoon, but enough of interest to provide a few decent betting opportunities.
Most competitive race is the Coutts Handicap Hurdle at 3.50, in which 12 are due to line up. The two at the top of the market are provided by Messrs Henderson & King, in the shape of Verdana Blue and Midnight Maestro, which finished 5th and 6th respectively in a warm race over CD at the beginning of the month. Six horses were in a line at the second last in that race and Verdana Blue came off worst in the scrimmaging, yet still finished a neck ahead of Midnight Maestro. With both probably just needing the run, it’s anyone’s guess which one will prevail and at 7-2 & 3-1 a win bet on either will undoubtedly result in your picking the wrong one.
However, it’s entirely possible that they will both be given a run for their money by the Warren Greatrex trained 4-y-o Attest, running in the colours of yours truly.
Our little pet did nothing but improve last season, winning two handicaps on the bounce and failing by a short knocker to complete the hat-trick at Uttoxeter in July. Given the rest of the summer off, Attest sprang back into action on the Flat 3 weeks ago and ran an excellent second in a Nottingham handicap. Thus, it will be spot on for today and a mark of 125 is a good starting point for what is hoped is another season of progress. An each way bet at 18-1 is the recommendation.
The Tindle Newspapers Beginners Chase at 1.00 sees three potentially decent novices and, de rigeur, a complete rag battling it out over 2m 3f and we think that Sizing Tennessee can turn over the favourite, Sternrubin at odds of 7-4. This 9-y-o looked like beating the prolific Black Corton last time out, only to tip up and with a clear round, it rates a fair bet.
There is a belting Novices hurdle at 2.05, the David Brownlow Charitable Foundation ‘Introductory’ Hurdle with a quality field of 7.
Just favourite at 13-8 is Nicky Henderson’s mare Kayf Grace, good winner of her only hurdle to date. However, this 7-y-o has been sidelined with an injury for nearly a year and is also penalised for her victory, so we much prefer the chances of Lalor, trained by Richard Woolacott.
Winner of the Listed Bumper at Aintree last season, this 5-y-o was expected to make a winning hurdling debut at Exeter a month ago, but failed by a short head, behind a Harry Fry special. With the third and fourth in that race winning easily since, Lalor can set the record straight this afternoon and rates a decent bet at 9-4.
We complete our punting portfolio with a bet in the 3.15, the Davidstow Handicap Chase over three miles. Our selection here is the Colin Tizzard trained Bally Longford, which is available at 9-2.
This ex-Irish trained 9-y-o made its seasonal reappearance at Wincanton at the end of last month and was cantering all over its field coming into the straight, before lack of peak fitness took its toll, eventually finishing fourth. No such problems today should see this horse home under Brian Cooper.
That’s it – I’m off to Ascot.
Attest 3.50 Ascot e/w @ 18-1 SkyBet (4 places)
Sizing Tennessee 1.00 Ascot win @ 7-4 Ladbrokes
Lalor 2.05 Ascot win @ 9-4 William Hill
Bally Longford 3.15 Ascot win @ 9-2 Betbright