Gene Hunt of Life On Mars kindly provides the headline for today’s Preview, covering the meetings at Ascot and Haydock.

Undoubted feature race at the Berkshire track is the Porsche Long Walk Hurdle at 2.25, which features a return match between Thyme Hill and Paisley Park, which finished first and second at Newbury at the end of November.

Not only does PP have a 3lb pull for a length and a half, today’s deep ground is in the favour of Emma Lavelle‘s 8-y-o, as is the track where it has a 1-1 record. Stable vibes have been strong, so, in the hope that the turbo kicks in coming out of Swinley Bottom, we recommend a win bet at 9-4.

With Roksana and the amazing Main Fact also in the field, this is no cakewalk for the ‘big two’ but class is permanent and hope springs eternal.

Coverage starts with the ‘For The Love Of Racing’ Handicap Chase at 1.50, with a competitive field of 12 due to line up.

Most interesting runner is undoubtedly Mengli Khan, a Grade 1 winning hurdler previously in the care of Gordon Elliott and now making its debut for Nicky Henderson. Winner of a chase by 26 lengths when last seen in September, this 7-y-o makes its first ever start in a handicap and on the ‘trust the trainer’ basis we must suggest an each way bet at 9-1.

We also think that Bennys King is in with a decent shout after a pleasing warm up at Aintree and recommend another each way bet on Dan Skelton‘s charge at 15-2.

On we go to the 3.00, which is the Silver Cup Handicap Chase over a fairly gruelling 3 miles and, if there is a horse that deserves to win a quality event, it must be The Conditional.

Having finished second in the ‘Ladbroke’ last year, Bridgie‘s 8-y-o finished third in it last month, the horse’s first run since winning at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Running of a pound lower mark this afternoon, we hope a win bet at 100-30 will pay off.

That leaves the simple matter of the Betfair Exchange Trophy, a 17 runner handicap hurdle at 3.35.

Anyone watching Buzz win last time out over this CD will have been mouthing: ‘More than a handicapper’ as the 6-y-o cruised home on the bridle by 7 lengths and it could well be that the handicapper’s revenge of an 11lb increase is simply not enough. We hope so, anyway, as we are advising an each way bet at 7-1.

Today might also be the time to hope that bad luck does not befall Harambe, which seems to fall, be brought down or otherwise get stuffed when looking the winner and Alan King‘s charge also rates ane ach way punt at 14-1.

Oop at Haddock, cameras are covering two races, first up being the Betfair Exchange Handicap Hurdle at 2.05, which currently has the ‘dead eight’.

On the basis that they just might all turn up, we recommend an each way bet on Albert’s Back from Big Mick‘s yard.

Brian Hughes‘s mount won first time out this season, beating a horse that may well have won at Cheltenham next time but for going A over T at the last and with just 5lbs more to carry today, Albert is worth a sneaky each way bet at 9-2.

Last but not least is the Betfair Tommy Whittle Chase at 2.40 and our primary bet in this race concerns Sojourn.

As its name might imply, Anthony Honeyball‘s pet stays really well, evidenced by its 15 length demolition job at Carlisle on its first run for nearly a year, when it skipped through atrocious ground with gay abandon.

11lbs higher, yes, but surely lots more to come and the 11-4 on offer is well worth taking.

On a ‘just in case’ basis, we also suggest a minor each way punt on Highest Sun, which, at last, gets its right trip and ground conditions and so might outrun its odds of 8-1.

Happy festives, everyone.


Paisley Park 2.25 Ascot 4pts win @ 9-4

Mengli Khan 1.50 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 9-1 (4 places)

Bennys King 1.50 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 15-2 (3 places Bet365, Coral)

The Conditional 3.00 Ascot 2pts win @ 100-30

Buzz 3.35 Ascot 1.5pts e/w @ 7-1 (6 places Skybet/Hills)

Harambe 3.35 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 14-1 (6 places Skybet/Hills)

Albert’s Back 2.05 Haydock 1.5pts e/w @ 9-2

Sojourn 2.40 Haydock 3pts win @ 11-4

Highest Sun 2.40 Haydock 1pt e/w @ 8-1 (4 places Skybet)

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