Saturday Horse Racing Preview & Tips – 16th February – Ballydine To Bounce Back

Seymour Biz returns from his well-earned holiday and looks ahead to Saturday’s action. He’s backing a Charlie Longsdon inmate to make amends for past sins, at Haydock. Here are his Lucky 15 selections.

With the whole racing industry in turmoil it is a very difficult job trying to find winners this week. But I will tell you what we do know about schedules, vaccinations, declarations and re-run races. Firstly the TV schedules have been changed to fit in the Betfair Hurdle and the Denman Chase which have been carried over from last week’s abandoned meeting at Newbury.

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As to what we know about vaccinations it appears some trainers don’t like to vaccinate mid-season as horses may react adversely to the injection. Some trainers vaccinate when horses go out for their summer break or when they come back into training after that break. Others, notably Paul Nicholls, Warren Greatrex and Alan King vaccinate between Christmas and New Year giving them a definite advantage in this scenario. As a horse cannot race for seven days after being vaccinated, even those trainers who are getting their horses injected now will need to get their horses tested prior to a run. This rule has affected several stables including Nicky Henderson, Tom George, Dan Skelton and Nick Williams.

Declarations for Saturday’s races are by 10.00am with cards issued at 1.30 so I wouldn’t advise taking any prices on any horses tipped in this column until they are declared! With all that said we have three fabulous meetings to look forward to on Saturday at Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton, and if you can get along to any of these meetings by all means go and support the racing industry. At Ascot the card has on it the Reynoldstown Novices Chase which would have seen Santini run prior to Cheltenham, but he is now ruled out. The Denman Chase, which has been reopened. The Swinley Chase and the Betfair Hurdle which I have reviewed below. At Haydock the highlights are the Rendlesham Hurdle and the Grand National Trial and at Wincanton the Class 1 Kingwell Hurdle. So we still have lots to look forward to this weekend, and here are my thoughts for the biggest of the TV races.

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At 2.10 at Ascot we have the Keltbray Swinley Chase. This handicap, as will many races this Saturday, is expected to cut up badly. However it has been targeted by Alan King for his course winner Yanworth, he is also declared for a hurdle race at Haydock but I fully expect owner JP McManus will want him to go over fences prior to Cheltenham. He won well there in a chase on New Year’s Day last year before reverting back to hurdles in the Stayers Hurdle at the festival. King says of him “he’s been pleasing me, and he’s working as well as he’s ever done”. Paul Nicholls has Black Corton declared, a prolific winner last year including a course and distance win here in February last year, but he has not been the same horse this season and has yet to score. Reikers Island from Phillip Hobbs’s stable looks interesting after being unlucky at Newbury last time when nearly unseating his rider at the last. He may well have won that day if it wasn’t for that mistake and could claim recompense here. But I will stick with Yanworth to take this contest and go on to glory at the festival.

The Betfair Hurdle is at 3.20 and there is currently a massive field declared for this wide open contest. A lot of horses who were laid out for this race when it was due to be run last week now will find their entry barred. But one who won’t is Alan King’s Lisp, King waxes lyrical about this horse, he states “This race has long been the plan for Lisp, who’s had a fine season. I was delighted with his second at Ascot just before Christmas, this was always going to be his next target “. King also has William H Bonney in this but it’s a big step up in class for him. Triple winner Al Dancer from Nigel Twiston-Davies’s yard looks a class act after his latest win at Cheltenham in December but this race is a higher class than that. Paul Nicholls sends Getaway Trump after his two wins this season hoping he can also make the move up in class. But I take Lisp, one of my Ten Hurdlers To Follow, to forge to victory here.

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Over at Wincanton we have the Betway Kingwell Hurdle and top weight here is Harry Fry’s If The Cap Fits. He was outpaced in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day but finished close enough to the first two to show he can put in a good run here. Paul Nicholls has Grand Sancy in the lineup, who, after his three wins earlier in the season has stepped up in class since going down by only half a length on his latest outing at Sandown in January in a Class 1 contest. Alan King sends Sceau Royal back hurdling on his way to a run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Quel Destin has proved to be a top novice this year and has bottom weight here as a 4-year-old but may not have the experience required for this contest. So I will side with whichever Nicholls sends for this race, I am pretty sure that will be Grand Sancy.

Moving north to Haydock Park we have the important William Hill Grand National Trial Handicap Chase. This three and a half mile contest was won last year by Venetia Williams’s Yala Enki and he’s back again to defend his crown. Unfortunately he has over a stone more to carry this time and I think that rules him out. Sue Smith’s Wakanda won last time out here at Haydock in the Peter Marsh Chase. He had several of his opponents in this race behind him that day including Robinsfirth, Ballyarthur, Red Infantry and Daklondike and although he has ten pounds more to carry I see no reason why he cannot keep them in their place. Carole’s Destrier was only fourth last time when a cheekpiece came loose, he had won well at Newbury in December Behind him that day was Ballydine who was only beaten three-quarters of a length in a hard fought contest. Ballydine then came to Haydock for the Peter Marsh Chase, the race won by Wakanda, he blundered badly three out and his chance was gone. But he rallied to finish just over four lengths behind the winner, without that mistake he may well have won, and I take him to get revenge over this longer distance. I will also mention Back To The Thatch from Henry Daly’s stable who has been running well without much luck, he can be placed at a nice price.

Saturday Lucky 15
2.10 Ascot. Yanworth
3.20 Ascot. Lisp
3.00 Wincanton. Grand Sancy
3.35 Haydock. Ballydine

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