Seemed appropriate to take a line from Tiger Feet by Mud, as there will be plenty of it flying around today at the meetings at Ascot and Haydock, where the going is fetlock deep.

First race covered at the Berkshire track is the Matchbook Mares Hurdle at 1.15, in which we have no intention of opposing Roksana, which is priced up at 4-7. At that price we have no intention of backing it either, so move swiftly on to the 1.50, the Matchbook Handicap Hurdle.

In this we are going to take a chance on the well-being of a potential handicap blot called Janika.

Rated 164 over fences, Nicky Henderson‘s 8-y-o was last seen over hurdles last January, finishing a close 4th in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham, just behind the likes of Summerville Boy and the aforementioned Roksana.

Its mark that day was 158 and this afternoon it can run off 147 – go figure.

Not seen since February, we reckon esteemed trainer has picked this race out and we recommend an each way bet at 6-1.

The bet365 Handicap Chase at 3.00 is next up, a competitive event with a field of 14, headed at 7-2 by Good Boy Bobby.

NT-D‘s 8-y-o is a worthy market leader, having finished second to Master Tommytucker at Haddock before a sound 4th of 17 in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Chelters. We expect the great Daryl to ride it closer to the pace today and suggest a win bet.

Ascot action closes with the eagerly awaited Grade 1 Matchbook Clarence House Chase, which features a clash between Politologue, Waiting Patiently and Defi Du Seuil.

There is little doubt that if Defi recaptured its previous brilliance, the race would be at its mercy, but after two abject failures we will leave this to the tried and trusted Politologue and recommend a win bet at 6-4.

Oop at Haddock, the televised action kicks off with the Skybet Supreme Rossington Main Hurdle at 1.30 and we have a strong preference in this for Minella Drama.

Donald McCain‘s 6-y-o ran second to today’s favourite Llandinabo Lad when both were making their hurdle debuts and MD has a 10lb pull in the weights this afternoon. Since that clash, the horse has won both starts, including on heavy ground and is clearly smart. Have a win bet at 15-8.

The Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at 2.40 has a hot favourite in the shape of  Royale Pagaille, which won a Kempton handicap last time out by an easy 3 lengths and looked impressive in doing it. However the handicapper has raised it no less than 16lbs and we’ve a mind to oppose with an each way bet on Smooth Stepper.

This sprightly 12-y-o won the Grand National Trial on this course last February and has run two good races in defeat since returning to action in November. Ground can’t be deep enough for this fella and, with the stable and the jockey in cracking form, the 15-2 offered should be taken.

The Unibet Hurdle at 3.15 features the return to action of Buveur D’Air and this is very much a watching, rather than betting, affair.

For whatever reason, ITV are also showing the 2.10 from Taunton, in which Yala Enki is odds on to repeat its win of last year. Ridden by the nowadays somewhat abrasive B Frost, this horse is well clear on the ratings and we are ‘no bet’.

That’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat.


Janika 1.50 Ascot 2pts e/w @ 6-1

Good Boy Bobby 3.00 Ascot 3pts win @ 7-2

Politologue 3.35 Ascot 4pts win @ 6-4

Minella Drama 1.30 Haydock 4pts win @ 15-8

Smooth Stepper 2.40 Haydock 1.5pts e/w @ 15-2

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