Seymour Biz fancies Ben Pauling’s inmate to get the better of Brain Power, in Saturday’s Champion Hurdle trial at Haydock. Here are his previews of the big races, along with your Lucky 15 bet selections. Take a look at his 2019 Cheltenham Festival ante-post tips, also!
A couple of good meetings to look forward to this weekend but with the exception of the Clarence House Chase at Ascot don’t expect to see any superstars plying their trade. I am looking forward to seeing Altior in the aforementioned race, you certainly can’t accuse Nicky Henderson of running scared with him. He goes up against Un De Sceaux again, who has won this contest on the last three occasions and his trainer, Willie Mullins, will be looking for a record fourth win. After Altior beat him in the Tingle Creek by 4 lengths I fully expect Henderson’s charge to frank that form. At Haydock, Grand National hero One For Arthur is declared. He has had his problems since his victory in the big race in 2017, but turned out at Aintree over the Mildmay fences in December and was chasing the leaders when blundering and unseating his rider at the 3rd fence. It will be good to see him back on a racecourse, I hope he runs well for his connections. And so, I have chosen three handicaps and a Champion Hurdle Trial for this week’s Lucky Fifteen and here are my thoughts on them.
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Beginning at Ascot with the Matchbook Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle at 2.25, we have some interesting young horses in contention. The bookies choice is Thosedaysaregone trained by Charles Byrne in Ireland. He won a small race at Wetherby last weekend but I fail to see how that win justifies favouritism for this, I am convinced there is better value in the race. Top weight is Ballymoy from Nigel Twiston-Davies’s stable who has won five of his last six latterly at Haydock before Christmas, but I think the handicapper may have hold of him now. Colonial Dreams is a course and distance winner but he has not looked a shadow of the horse he was last season. A winner last time out is Equis Amadeus from Tom Lacey’s yard. That win was in a Class 2 contest at Doncaster, and while he is an improving young horse this may be a step too soon for him. The one I like is one of my Ten Novices To Follow, Seddon. He was third here at Ascot last time behind Angel’s Breath, plugging on gamely, I think this step up in trip will suit him at this stage in his career.
At 3.00 we have the bet365 Handicap Chase over 2m 5f. Benatar is highly fancied for this after winning twice here in 2017 and having two respectable runs here over this distance and three miles this season. But he is dropping back to handicap company and I feel he may find one or two too good at the weights. Mister Whitaker won first time out this season before running poorly at Cheltenham in November after his heroics there at last year’s festival. But I feel he can bounce back from that on his way back to this year’s Cheltenham meeting. Belami Des Pictons from Venetia Williams’s yard looks interesting, he ran up a great set of victories in 2016/17 but ran only once last season and has not been seen on a track since November 2017, he is obviously a horse that has had problems and is best watched. Glen Rocco won well last week at Kempton but this classy contest may come to the quickly for him. Jerrysback from Phillip Hobbs’s yard has been running well this season with a win at Bangor before running second here at Ascot in December, but I feel he is rather high in the weights.
Moving north to Haydock at 2.40 is The New One Unibet Hurdle, a supposed Champion Hurdle Trial. Not many of these will run in the big race, however Brain Power is one who is quietly fancied in some quarters. So he is saddled with favouritism here after a fine run at Cheltenham last time beating several of the protagonists he will face here including Silver Streak,Western Ryder and Vision Des Flos. I fully expect to confirm those placings again this time. Mohaayed won last time out at Ascot in December beating the excellent Lisp and Western Ryder, but he was beaten in October by Silver Streak, who is a course and distance winner. While these have been squabbling together, a horse who has quietly been plying his trade after a fine season last year is Global Citizen. Ben Pauling’s charge has been highly tried this year winning a Listed race at Newbury in December before running at Kempton in the Christmas Hurdle. He hit the second hard that day and that knocked the stuffing out of him, leaving him unable to challenge. This is slight drop down in class and he has the quality to outgun his rivals.
The Peter Marsh Handicap Chase is at 3.15 and this year’s renewal looks a fine contest with many course specialist’s in action. As I have mentioned earlier One For Arthur looks interesting but I think he is best watched, this run is a stepping stone on his way to another tilt at the Grand National. Nicky Henderson has a strong hand here with O O Seven and top weight Valtor, both winners on their last runs, but the pair of them look too high in the handicap for me. David Pipe’s Ramses De Teillee is the bookmakers favourite after his fine second in the Welsh National at Chepstow, but he has only ever won at Chepstow so I would prefer Pipe’s other runner Daklondike. He won here last time out but likes a bit of cut in the ground and is unlikely to get that here. Second to him that day was Nigel Twiston-Davies’s Ballarthur who was only headed over the last 50 yards, he can gain his revenge here. I will also mention Chase The Spud who is a course and distance winner. He looks to have gone backward since then including being pulled up in last year’s Grand National but his runs have been over far longer distances than this and dropping back to a distance he has won at may suit. He may well run into a place at a nice price.
Saturday Lucky 15
2.25 Ascot. Seddon
3.00 Ascot. Mister Whitaker
2.40 Haydock. Global Citizen
3.15 Haydock. Ballyarthur