We’ve teamed up with BetVictor to preview the day’s racing.
Cue Card is 2/5 at BetVictor to win today’s Grade 1 feature the Ascot Chase and the 11-year-old should oblige although he makes no appeal as a betting proposition at those odds given he is, arguably, better going left-handed and might need slightly further than today’s 2m 5f trip.
At the time of writing there is no betting without the favourite but it wouldn’t surprise me if the 20/1 outsider of the whole field Irish Cavalier (20/1 with BetVictor) were the one to follow the favourite home.
Six also go to post for the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase and I expect to see a much better performance from Harry Fry’s Fletchers Flyer who disappointed over today’s C&D when returning from a lay-off over today’s C&D back in December.
He came in for significant market support on that occasion and is likely to be straighter this afternoon but he has to give 7lbs to Label Des Obeaux (1.50) and that might be just beyond him.
The selection only won a modest Ludlow Novice Chase last time and his chief market rival was an early casualty, but I was very impressed with the run and if he fences with the same alacrity, he can take this before a possible tilt at the National Hunt Chase at the Festival.
The listed handicap chase over three-miles is another cracker and I am interested in watching the seasonal reappearance of O’Faolains Boy (2.25) who won the aforementioned Reynoldstown Chase as a novice, beating the ill-fated Many Clouds back in 2014.
The selection is 4/1 at BetVictor for today’s belated comeback and 33/1 for the Grand National in April. Go Conquer is a worthy favourite at 3/1 but I just favour the Rebecca Curtis-trained animal who has gone well fresh in the past.
In Haydock’s opener I am looking forward to the second start over hurdles of Most Celebrated (1.30) who looked a future star when coming home clear at Wetherby in January on his sole start over timber to date.
The gelding was rated in the high 80s on the flat for Saeed Bin Suroor and looked a natural when winning by 28 lengths on debut although we will know more about his long-term prospects after today.
Tom Symond’s Don Bersy has won two of his three starts over timber and the form of his Sandown win over Coeur De Lion has been franked by the subsequent win of the latter. That said, I would be disappointed if he can give 3lbs to the selection who is currently 20/1 at BetVictor for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham next month.
In the Rendlesham Hurdle I hope to see Aux Petit Soins (2.05) score for Paul Nicholls reverting to timber for the first time since finishing fifth in the 2016 World Hurdle to the brilliant Thistlecrack.
He has yet to truly convince he stays 3m but if he does he can take advantage of the weight concession (10lbs) he gets from Agrapart.
Showers are forecast in Lancashire and if there is significant rain I would be sweet on the chances of Big River (2.40) who appeared to find the ground too quick at Musselburgh (good) last time. The selection had previously run away with an Ayr handicap on heavy ground and he should have optimum underfoot conditions this afternoon.
The big betting race of the day is the Grand National Trial and, at the foot of the weights, I think Cresswell Breeze (3.15) and Warrantor (20s) are worth a second glance with the former getting the each way nod at 16/1 with BetVictor. The mare has won two of her three career starts over three-miles and could easily improve for the return to a left-handed track later this afternoon.
Aqua Dude (4.20) was very highly thought of by Evan Williams last season but things just haven’t panned out for him so far over fences although he looks well handicapped on his best form over timber. A point-to-point winner in his native Ireland the booking of Sam Twiston-Davies would suggest connections mean business.
At Wincanton The Fresh Prince (2.15) can defy a 5lbs rise for Oliver Sherwood and Leighton Aspell having done us a favour at Uttoxeter last time. The selection looked as if he needed some headgear on that occasion and can be quite keen but there is plenty of pace in the race despite the paucity of runners.
The big race at the Somerset track is the Group 2 Kingwell Hurdle and Yanworth (2.45) can confirm himself as a genuine Champion Hurdle contender. It is interesting to see Alan King fit cheek-pieces to his Christmas Hurdle winner but he should have the race run to suit with Rayvin Black in the field.
At Market Rasen on Sunday, Master Of Finance (3.00) could be well-handicapped for Malcolm Jefferson and Brian Hughes whilst Holly Bush Henry (3.30) should be good enough to break his maiden tag in the Novices’ Chase in receipt of weight from Chidswell who didn’t have much to beat when scoring at Sedgefield earlier in the week.
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