Top class jumping action on the box today from Ascot and Wetherby and we are indebted to Los Bravos for providing the headline for the feature race at the Berkshire venue, the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase at 3.40.

Our selection for this is the Paul Nicholls‘s trained Black Corton, ridden by the fragrant Bryony.

Winless in just five runs last season, Black Corton ran with great credit in all of them, clocking up 3 seconds, 1 third and a 4th and finished 3rd in this race behind Vinndication (about which more, later).

Mr Nicholls has given his 9-y-o a minor wind tweak during the break and pronounces it fit and raring to go, so we recommend an each way bet at 6-1.

Coverage starts with the Ascot Underwriting Novices’ Handicap Chase at 1.20 and our pick in this one is the consistent Dorking Boy, trained by Tom Lacey. This 6-y-o won twice over hurdles last season and made a pleasing start to its chasing career by giving Zoffee a run for its money at Exeter just 11 days ago. Trying to give 9lbs to a horse rated 132 proved just too much, but, with the assessor not allowed to adjust its rating, Dorking Boy can run in this handicap off a mark of 126 and can do the biz under Stan Sheppard.

Have an each way bash at 5-1.

The Listed Handicap Chase at 1.55 looks an ideal kicking off point for Venetia Williams‘s likely improver Ibleo.

A winner of its first two chases before failing to see out a longer trip at Huntingdon last season, much better can be expected from this lightly raced 7-y-o and, with the stable in unusually good early season form, we recommend a decent win bet at 5-2.

The Sodexo Handicap Hurdle at 3.05 has a field of 9 and that good each way shape leads us to recommend Hang In There at 7-1.

Emma Lavelle‘s 6-y-o perhaps promised more than it eventually delivered last season, but was very highly tried in Grade 1 and Listed company and will find this a lot easier. The benefit of a recent spin at Fontwell will also help and the in-form Nick Schofield looks a good booking.

Opp at Wetherby, action starts with the bet365 Handicap Chase at 1.35 and here we give a squeak to Hes No Trouble from the Kim Bailey operation. This 7-y-o blatantly didn’t stay the 3m on its last run back in February and drops to a more suitable trip for seasonal reappearance. Might also benefit from a close season wind op and thus rates a value bet at 8-1.

The Listed hurdle at 2.10 should be at the mercy of Verdana Blue, but at 4-7 and just seven runners, we just watch this one.

The bet365 Hurdle at 3.20 sees the reappearance of Lisnagar Oscar, last seen winning the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival at 50-1.

Now saddled with a Grade 1 penalty, this horse will do very well to give 13 lbs to Roksana, from the Skelton operation.

Dan‘s mare ran only four times last season, none over today’s trip and failed to record a win, but they were all races from the top table and previous runs suggest 3 miles is definitely what she wants.

This has been the target for a good while and we should take the hint at 2-1.

The bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at 3.20 is perhaps the most intriguing race of the day, witnessing the appearance of the highest rated horse in training, Cyrname, trained by Paul Nicholls. The defeat of Altior at Ascot last November saw Cyrname‘s rating soar to 177 after which it all went a bit Pete Tong, with a defeat in the King George and a fall at Ascot.

So where are we with this beastie?

If Cyrname runs to its mark and if it gets 3 miles and if it goes left handed it’ll win by half the track, but, folks, that’s too many ‘ifs’ for us and we’re gonna plump for the potential star of the show Vinndication.

Kim Bailey‘s 7-y-o won the aforementioned Sodexo Gold Cup last season off a mark of 151 before a gallant 4th of 23 in the Ultima Handicap at the Festival off 159.

Without the presence of Cyrname, either of those performances would be good enough, so we go for a fair bet at 9-4.

That’s it – now off to stock up with loo rolls before lockdown.


Black Corton 3.40 Ascot 1.5pts e/w @ 6-1 (5 places Hills/Skybet)

Dorking Boy 1.20 Ascot 1.5pts e/w @ 5-1

Ibleo 1.55 Ascot 2pts win @ 5-2

Hang In There 3.05 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 7-1

Hes No Trouble 1.35 Wetherby 1pt e/w @ 8-1 (4 places)

Roksana 2.45 Wetherby 4pts win @ 2-1

Vinndication 3.20 Wetherby 4pts win @ 9-4

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