First, the good news: cracking racing on telly from Ascot & Haydock.
Now the bad news: Ascot are inspecting at 11.30am and any more of the wet stuff will scupper the meeting. ‘Tis what it is, so let’s be optimistic and get on with it.
Coverage at Ascot begins at 1.50 with the Plymouth Gin Handicap Chase over 2m 3f and a field of 13 stand their ground.
Almost disputing favouritism for this race is Espoir De Guye, trained by the fragrant Venetia and there is little doubt that this lightly 5-y-o put up an impressive performance when winning at Exeter earlier this month, a performance which followed an encouraging second at Chepstow on chase debut. A 9lb rise is a bit of a steadier, but with no ground worries and the stable in great form, a win bet at 3-1 is the suggestion.
At a much bigger price, we also recommend an each way bash at Golden Whisky, which finished just behind EDG in the Chepstow race and then went on to win at Ffos Las, comfortable beating a subsequent winner. Another potential improver, we suggest the 11-1 should be snapped up.
The Long Walk Hurdle at 2.25 sees Paisley Park trading at 1-5, so there’s not much we can do except watch, so swiftly on to the Dave Dawes Silver Cup Handicap Chase at 3.00, a race named after, er, well, Dave Dawes.
Making its return to action after 308 days off and, presumably laid out for this, is Yalltari, another Venetia inmate, which showed immense promise in its first season over fences and exhibited a liking for unraceable ground. This followed an unbeaten 3-3 over hurdles and we are going to keep the faith and recommend an each way bet at 9-2.
If we get that far, the card closes with the Betfair Exchange Trophy at 3.35, which is an 11-2 the field affair.
We pin our hopes on the outcome of the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham, which was won by Harambe (NR today) with Monsieur Lecoq in third and Quoi De Neuf a close 4th and our chief fancy is the Evan Williams‘ trained QDN, which had to switch twice on the run in and yet was beaten less than two lengths. Lightly raced but full of potential, we suggest a decent each way bet at 13-2.
As they are so closely matched, we also recommend an each way bet on Monsieur Lecoq (why do we keep thinking that’s French for ‘dick-head’?) at an attractive 9-1.
The final two races at Haddock complete the televised coverage with the Betway Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase first up at 2.40.
We think there may be an improver in this field of 9, in the shape of Lord Du Mesnil. Trained by the underrated Richard Hobson, this 6-y-o came good at Newcastle last time out and, off just 5lbs higher, can repeat the dose. Back it each way at 5-1.
Last, but not least, is the Betway…Handicap Hurdle at 3.15 which looks at the mercy of Chti Balko from the Donald McCain yard. A facile winner in heavy ground at Bangor last time out, beating a subsequent winner, that is undoubtedly the best form on offer and the 9-4 on offer represents a value bet.
Back on Boxing Day (weather permitting).
Now we’re off to Ally Pally to gurn at the cameras and shout on Fallon Sherrock.
As Dave Allen always said: ‘May your God go with you’.
Espoir De Guye 1.50 Ascot 2pt win @ 3-1
Golden Whisky 1.50 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 11-1 (4 places)
Yalltari 3.00 Ascot 1.5pts e/w @ 9-2
Quoi De Neuf 3.35 Ascot 2pts e/w @ 13-2 (5 places)
Monsieur Lecoq 3.35 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 9-1 (5 places)
Lord Du Mesnil 2.40 Haydock 1.5pts e/w @ 5-1
Chti Balko 3.15 Haydock 2pts win @ 9-4