We have an excellent day’s racing to look forward to on Saturday, with several big name horses in action. The main focus will be on Ascot and also Haydock, where Seymour Biz believes a Nicky Henderson inmate can win at a big price. Here are his each-way Lucky 15 picks. Find all previous UK racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips.
There are three meetings being covered by ITV this weekend at Haydock, Ascot and Wincanton. The South-West course has the Kingwell Hurdle as it’s highlight and Paul Nicholls sends Quel Destin to try and capture this Grade 2 contest but Dan Skelton’s Ch’tibello may well give him a run for his money. The main action is at the other two courses with another Nicholls hotshot at Ascot in the form of Cyrname who is looking to get back on the scoresheet after his defeat in the King George on Boxing Day. But looking for value here, there are a couple of nice handicaps on the card and I have covered those below. Up North at Haydock there are just two races being televised including their Grand National Trial and a Grade 2 hurdle and these make up this week’s Lucky Fifteen. I like the look of some big outsiders for Saturday’s races so here are my thoughts for the two meetings.
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Starting with the 2.25 at Ascot, the Keltbray Swinley Chase which is Limited Handicap Listed race. Paul Nicholls has a couple of entries here including top weight Black Corton who has been a prolific winner for him. But that has not been the case this season and he has been unable to get his head in front in four attempts. He was fourth behind last year’s winner Regal Encore in December here at Ascot and they meet again here, however I cannot see Anthony Honeyball’s 12-year-old repeating that success as he will not get the heavy ground he relishes. Domaine de L’Isle from Sean Curran’s yard has won his last three races and is the deserved favourite here, he is a course winner but is stepping up in class in this contest. Nicky Henderson has Valtor in the lineup and he seems to love it at Ascot having won twice here already in his career. The latest win was last November but this is a step up on that contest and it is asking a lot of him to make that upgrade. One trainer whose horses always seem to go well here is Henry Daly and he has Atlanta Ablaze in the lineup. He won at Market Rasen in November then ran a poor fourth in a Listed race at Aintree over a distance that didn’t suit, now he is stepping back up to 3 miles he can improve on that showing to take this.
At 3.00 it is the Give The Gift Of Ascot Annual Membership Handicap Hurdle, a 2m 3f contest. Favourite here is Eden Du Houx trained by David Pipe , this is a horse who looked top class in bumpers but has taken a while to get used to going over obstacles. He finally got his head in front at the third attempt, winning by a short head in a pretty poor race at Chepstow two weeks ago. This is a much tougher test for Pipe’s gelding and he would need to show great improvement to feature. Donald McCain’s The Con Man has better form and has been running consistently all season in some good races. He seems to relish soft ground and won easily at Kelso last time but he may find this trip on the sharp side. Howling Milan fell at the last at Newbury last time with the race at his mercy, that was in December and it remains to be seen if that fall has dented Samuel Drinkwater’s gelding’s confidence. That race was gifted to Dorking Boy but Tom Lacey’s charge failed in his treble bid next time at Huntingdon when upped in trip. He moves back in distance and can take a place here. But I like the look of a Paul Nicholls horse, Malaya, he was a classy 4-year-old and his trainer had high hopes for him. But he only won once last season and has not run since early December when running poorly at Sandown. Nicholls is moving him up in trip and he has won at Ascot in the past and those factors may well lead to an improvement in his chances.
Moving North to Haydock we have the Unibet Rendlesham Hurdle at 2.05. The World’s End trained by Tom George has top weight and is highly fancied after his fine efforts this season. His latest victory at Ascot came at the expense of L’Ami Serge and I expect him to confirm those placings but he does have a 6lb penalty for that win. Unowhatimeanharry has been running consistently this season but has not won since May and Harry Fry’s gelding is now a 12-year-old and there may be younger challengers. Donna’s Diamond won this in 2018 but Chris Grant’s grey has not won for 14 months. Warren Greatrex’s Emitom had a tremendous season last year with four victories but he jumped poorly on his reappearance at Cheltenham and I think he is best watched at this stage in his career. Nicky Henderson runs a big outsider in Welsh Saint who was an easy winner on his penultimate outing. He then ran third at Cheltenham on New Years Day but he hit two out and was outpaced going to the last, he can improve on that and go well at a nice price.
At 3.15 it’s the Unibet Grand National Trial which is run just over 3m 4f. Lucinda Russell runs One For Arthur, the Grand National hero of 2017, here. He has put in a couple of fair displays this season including a good fifth over the National fences at Aintree in December and may well be placed over these stiff obstacles. Colin Tizzard has top weight here with Elegant Escape but he hasn’t won this season and for all his consistency he seems to find one or two too good. Yala Enki won this two years ago and won a good prep race at Taunton last month. Paul Nicholls’s gelding is sure to put in a good run but may not be best value. His previous run was in the Welsh National where he was third but the horse that catches the eye was The Two Amigos who ran fifth that day. He led for most of the race before being caught three out and dropping back a couple of furlongs may help. Lord Du Mesnil has won his last three, two of which were here at Haydock but this is a classier contest and Richard Hobson’s gelding’s run may come to an end here. So in what looks a really tight contest I will take a chance with The Two Amigos.
Saturday E/W Lucky 15
2.25 Ascot. Atlanta Ablaze
3.00 Ascot. Malaya
2.05 Haydock. Welsh Saint
3.15 Haydock. The Two Amigos