The National Hunt season has well and truly got under way, with top class fare on telly this afternoon from Ascot and Wetherby.
We start in Berkshire, where the first race is the Ascot Underwriting Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at 1.30.
This 4-runner affair features the chasing debut of the enigmatic Goshen, whose rating of 157 has ensured the other three are all out of the handicap.
Frankly, this is not a betting race, with the Fav trading at 6-5 and we are happy just to watch.
The Bateaux London Handicap Hurdle at 2.05, however, is a different cauldron of tuna and features the only horse ever to have beaten Constitution Hill, name of Anyharminasking.
That victory was in an Irish Point, but two comfortable wins in handicap hurdles at the end of last season illustrated a good deal of ability. However, a 10lb rise for winning at Sedgefield and without a run for almost a year leads us to look elsewhere.
Broomfield Burg has been highly regarded by the Henderson yard, without quite reaching the level expected, but there was little wrong with the 6-y-o’s comeback run three weeks ago, when a close third at Chepstow and we recommend a win bet at 3-1.
We also like the look of Washington from the very much in form Olly Murphy operation. Also a 6-y-o, Tim Syder‘s horse finished last season with an excellent 3rd in a hot handicap at Aintree and can continue its progression this season. Have na each way bet at 13-2.
Next up is the Bryne Group Handicap Chase at 2.40, won last year by Amoola Gold, which was subsequently disqualified for a prohibited substance (tut, tut). The eventual recipient of the prize was Monsieur Lecoq and both these beasties try again.
We quite like the chances of the latter, which is 2lbs lower rated this year and has the benefit of a pipe opener, so we advise an each way bet at 15-2.
Just in case the mood takes it, we also suggest a win bet on Gumball at 7-2, after a very good spin on the Flat four weeks ago.
The valuable Bateaux London Gold Cup Handicap Chase at 3.15 completes the Ascot coverage and we recommend each way bets on Tea Clipper (6-1) and Mister Malarkey (11-1).
The former is a potential improver while the latter is a dual CD winner.
Oop at Wetherby, the bet365 Novices’ Hurdle at 1.50 opens the show with many dark horses in the field.
We go for a brown one called Prairie Wolf, which won two Bumpers last season and ran an eye-catching race on hurdles debut two weeks ago when staying on into third at Uttoxeter. 13-2 are the odds of reward.
The Listed bet365 Mares’ Hurdle at 2.25 features last year’s winner Molly Ollys Wishes, this time round carrying a penalty, which causes us to lean towards the second favourite, Martello Sky.
Lucy Wadham‘s grey lady won three from five last season, including first time out and, with helpful rain forecast, looks a value bet at 15-8.
The bet365 Hurdle at 3.00 also features last year’s winner in Indefatigable which is also penalised.
Proschema was second last year and is 6lbs better off today so we think Harry Skelton‘s mount is the way to go at an attractive 9-2.
And finally to the day’s big shoot out, aka the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at 3.35.
The score between Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame is 2-2, but we feel the greater scope for improvement lies with Lucinda Russell‘s star and we recommend a fair bet at 5-4.
Hasta lluego, amigos.
Broomfield Burg 2.05 Ascot 2pts win @ 3-1
Washington 2.05 Ascot 1.5pts e/w @ 13-2
Monsieur Lecoq 2.40 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 15-2
Gumball 2.40 Ascot 2pts win 7-2
Tea Clipper 3.15 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 6-1 (4 places)
Mister Malarkey 3.15 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 11-1 (4 places)
Prairie Wolf 1.50 Wetherby 1pt e/w @ 13-2
Martello Sky 2.25 Wetherby 2pts win @ 15-8
Proschema 3.00 Wetherby 1pt e/w @ 9-2 (2 places)
Ahoy Senor 3.35 Wetherby 3pts win @ 5-4