Top class racing today, spread across three meetings and although the prevailing ground conditions will be tough, at least it’s raceable for once.
Ascot is our first port of call, with the feature race at 3.35, when the Betfair Ascot Chase takes place. Just 7 are due to go to post, with the Nicky Henderson trained Top Notch favourite at 2-1. Winner of six of its 9 runs over the larger obstacles, this 7-y-o has won its last two in some style and boasts a course record of 3 from 3, two of which came over today’s trip of 2m 5f. So what’s not to like? Well, nothing, really – it’s just that we prefer something else.
Waiting Patiently, unbeaten in all five chases and numbering Politologue amongst its victims, is second in at 9-4, coming here after a Listed success at Kempton last time out. This, however, is a Grade 1 and may be just too much.
We’ll take ‘em both on with Eddie Harty’s charge Coney Island, which made a somewhat spectacular comeback from a long absence over this CD in December, winning a Graduation Chase by 9 lengths. Although that form is not good enough on a stand-alone basis, this 7-y-o is already a Grade 1 winner, having taken the Drinmore Novices Chase in December 2016, comfortably beating horses rated in the high 160s.
Off with injury for a whole year until the Ascot reappearance and prominent in the Gold Cup betting, at 4-1 the value is there and should be taken.
The Ascot Spring Garden Show Handicap Hurdle at 3.00 has a field of 9, with Kildisart the marginal favourite at 3-1. An admirably consistent beast, it could be that a 7lb hike for being beaten last time out will do for its chances.
Second in is Dieg Man, trained by Neil Mulholland, which is available at 7-2. This ex-French trained 5-y-o has won both novice hurdles for its new yard and has yet to come off the bridle. A handicap debut off a mark of 130 may be an underestimation and, having won on Very Soft in France (translation: ‘unraceable’), today’s surface holds no fears. A win bet is recommended.
Also in this race we suggest an each way bash at Le Patriote at 11-2. We put this Dr Newland trained animal up last time out, when finishing fourth at Cheltenham at the end of last month and we must give it another chance today under Brian Hughes.
Finally at Ascot, we recommend an each way bet on Buckle Street in the racinguk.com/clubdays Handicap Hurdle at 4.10. Trading at 13-2, this 5-y-o stays well, handles the ground and will be well ridden by regular pilot Harry Stock.
Highlight of the Haydock card is the Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at 3.15 and the bookies all agree that Blaklion should be favourite. Head of the market for the real thing, Blaklion tried and failed to win this last year and now competes off a 9lb higher mark.
We much prefer the chances of Silsol, trained by Pau Nichols. A fine 5th in the Welsh Grand National last time out and now 3lbs lower, this 9-y-o can reap the benefit of a return to fences this season and rates a clear bet each way at 9-1.
The following race at 3.50, the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle sees Dan Skelton’s Tommy Rapper make its handicap debut off a mark of 135. Something of a slow burner and described as a ‘lunatic’ by its trainer, it’s a talented ‘lunatic’ and should be slammed into each way at 11-2.
Finally, at Wincanton we propose a win bet on Call Me Lord in the featured Betway Kingwell Hurdle at 2.45. Almost certainly a two-horse race, this 5-y-o has won two good handicaps for the Henderson yard since its arrival from France and is now ready to step up to Graded level, as evidenced by the entry for the Champion Hurdle. The betting is 6-4 each of two (with Ch’tibello) and that’s a fair price, so lump on.
Let the games begin.
Coney Island 3.35 Ascot win @ 4-1 William Hill
Dieg Man 3.00 Ascot win @ 7-2 Ladbrokes
Le Patriote 3.00 Ascot e/w @ 11-2 SkyBet
Buckle Street 4.10 Ascot e/w @ 13-2 PaddyPower (4 places)
Silsol 3.15 Haydock e/w @ 9-1 Coral
Tommy Rapper 3.50 Haydock e/w @ 11-2 Betbright
Call me Lord 2.45 Wincanton win @ 13-8 bet365