Seymour Biz pins his hopes on a Henderson horse, for the first leg of his Lucky 15 on Saturday.
Three enjoyable meetings to look forward to this weekend Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton with the Betfair Chase, the Grand National Trial and the Kingwell Hurdle all taking centre stage. The big one for me is the annual slog over three miles five furlongs through the Haydock mud, I well remember Party Politics winning in a snowstorm, Blaklion will be seeking to emulate that great chaser. At Ascot is the Betfair Ascot Chase with some classy chasers on show such as Top Notch and Waiting Patiently, but the horse the crowd will come to see will be Cue Card. If he is a quarter as good as he was he will walk this, but we will have to wait and see. The other race on the Ascot card, the Swinley Chase, has a few Cheltenham prospects in the lineup looking to see if they can enhance their chances for the Ultima and the Ryanair. At the country course of Wincanton is an important Champion Hurdle Trial with Call Me Lord at the head of the betting. Some top class horses have won this race in the past and have gone on to win the big one in March, the latest being Katchit, however I don’t think we will see the winner here today. That said, with the favourite being even money there is not much value in the race, Chi’Tibello, last years second is a contender, but I would be interested in Elgin, a brave horse who could be a turn up. So I will look at four of the TV races that may have more value than the Wincanton race and look at the contenders.
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Starting with the 2.25 at Ascot the Keltbray Swinley Chase has at the top of the handicap Gold Present trained by Nicky Henderson. He has won his last two races at Newbury and here at Ascot beating several of the contenders he will meet here, and pretty easily at that. That race has also put him into favouritism for the Ultima at Cheltenham and as low as 14/1 for the Ryanair, after winning this he will be even lower, this season could see him developing into a real star. Among those he will face is Another Venture, Kim Bailey’s dual winner who is lower down the handicap, but he will want the going soft. Master Dee looks interesting, it is unusual for him to tackle three miles, that said he did win over the distance at Musselburgh back in 2014, off the track since November last year when second to On Tour I wonder if this is a prep race for the Festival. I must also mention Yala Enki who is also engaged at Haydock who fell at the first last time, he can get into the frame if taking his chance here, however Gold Present is the one to beat
The 3.00 is the Spring Garden Show Handicap Hurdle, a Class 2 race, Dieg Man is favourite here after his three victories, but this is a major step up in class for him. Fixed Le Cap returns to hurdling after running second when odds on in a chase at Plumpton, he has won three times over hurdles and perhaps the smaller obstacles are more his forte. Le Patriote is a beaten favourite beaten eight lengths at Cheltenham by Remiluc, he can have a better day out here. But the horse I really like here is Fidux, he has won on soft though his trainer, Alan King, has stated he would like it to dry up a bit. He ran a poor race last time considering how he has fared against better opposition in the past, he was only four and a half lengths behind A Hare Breath at Sandown previously and was also unlucky against the top class Maria’s Benefit when hitting a swinging hurdle at the same course. He looks very well handicapped and can take this contest.
Up North to Haydock at 2.05 we have the Class 1 Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle, a top class contest won by Zarkandar last year. At the top of the betting this year is Agrapart at even money after his victory at Cheltenham in January, he reversed the placing with Wholestone who had beaten him previously. That was a fine win after his disappointments in France last year showing he has improved. He was third in this race last year and even though he is a short priced favourite he may have to settle for something similar this year. Boite recently had a wind operation and that has proved to be successful after his victory last time out at Taunton where he won by eleven lengths, showing some of the class he had when running on the flat. He has enough to take this contest. Donnnas Diamond won here at Haydock last time out on heavy going, he jumped really well that day and that is what will be required to take this encounter (he is also engaged in the 3.50 here at Haydock).
The big race of the day is at 3.15 at Haydock, it’s the Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase and it looks like the Aintree favourite is set to turn out making it a great spectacle. Blaklion is the 3/1 shot for this and 10/1 for the big one in April after winning over the big fences at Aintree in December, however he has never won over three and a half miles and was fourth in the National last year. This race is nearly 3 miles 5 furlong and takes some getting so I will try and look at improving horses in the field. One trainer who is certainly improving is Colin Tizzard after a lean patch and he runs The Dutchman who won here last month on heavy ground over 3 miles 2 furlongs beating Yala Enki into fourth. Three Faces West for Philip Hobbs is not without a chance, he was leading here in December until falling at the twelfth fence. Another who takes the eye is Silsol, trained by Paul Nicholls, who ran fifth in the Welsh National. In his younger days he was a good hurdler, winning a Grade 2, he looked a promising chaser in 2016 but he then had his problems, the Chepstow run may show he is back on the upgrade, I will however stick with The Dutchman.
Saturday Lucky 15
2.25 Ascot – Gold Present
3.00 Ascot – Fidux
2.05 Haydock – Boite
3.15 Haydock – The Dutchman
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