Guitar Pete will have victory plucked from him by a familiar rival in the bet365 Handicap Chase, reckons Seymour Biz.
Over the next two weeks the muddy waters of the betting for the Cheltenham Festival may become a little clearer, with two great meetings this weekend at Haydock and Ascot and a Cheltenham Trials meeting next week. But be prepared for them to throw up some shocks as well, as fancied horses who are at the top of the betting forecasts may fail to perform, and outsiders in the betting show form way above their expectations. The main fancies are at Ascot with two odds on runners out to show their credentials, La Baguette Au Roi in the Mares Hurdle and Un De Sceaux, both are highly fancied and should see off their rivals. They will be many people’s certs of the day and will be backed accordingly. Similarly at Haydock in the Novice Hurdle, Claimantakinforgan will go off odds on and there will be a lot of trebles on these relative certs! However I will look for some better prices in the other TV races.
The 2.40 at Haydock is the Unibet Champion Hurdle Trial and we have The New One as a pretty hot favourite, he is after all going for his fourth consecutive win in this race. But he is now a 10 year old and I fancy him to be knocked off his perch by a younger rival, Ch’tibello trained by Dan Skelton looks to be just the horse to do that. He was only one and three quarter lengths behind The New One in the race won by My Tent Or Yours at Cheltenham in the middle of December, The New One ran again on Boxing Day whilst Ch’tibello has had a rest. This is only his second race of this campaign and he won at Haydock on heavy ground in November 2016 so is no stranger to the winners enclosure here. Nicky Henderson has Call Me Lord declared and isn’t without a chance, but I will take the selection to lower the favourites colours.
At 3.15 we have a more competitive race at Haydock the Peter March Handicap Chase, one of the course’s flagship events of the season. If Philip Hobbs’ Rock The Kasbah turns up he should be respected, he didn’t run at Chepstow in the Welsh National due to the heavy ground, let’s hope that’s not the problem here. Yala Enki is also declared and Venetia Williams has been looking for a race for this horse for a month or so now. Higher in the handicap and at a higher price is Carole’s Destrier who has run only once in the last year and should be seen as an each way chance. There are a couple of course specialists, one worth a mention is Captain Redbeard who won here on the Saturday before Christmas, but this is a major step up in class and I will stick with Rock The Kasbah who is blossoming into a class act.
Down South to Ascot we have the Ascot Spring Garden Show Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle at 2.25, with last week’s winner William Henry as the market leader. He is at the top of the handicap and I am looking further down to find my selection which is Oxwich Bay, Evan Williams’s six year old won last time at Ffos Las over the same distance he faces today. He is a horse that is rated to tackle longer distances in future, but is well suited for this race here today, he has not been out of the frame in his last six starts. Air Horse One is declared and readers of this column know he is a horse I like, however he has had a hard campaign up to now and did not run to his true form last time, so I will pass him over this weekend. Crossed My Mind is an Irish raider who was third at Sandown at the beginning of December where he beat Jenkins And Man Of Plenty, so he must have every chance. A lively outsider is Whatmore who ran too free at Cheltenham on New Years Day and has a decent each way chance, but I will take my chance with Oxwich Bay.
The bet365 Handicap Chase at 3.00 has attracted some very good two and a half mile chasers as is only to be expected given the prize money on offer. Harry Fry has sent Acting Lass who is at the top of the betting. The gelding has won both his races this season, but they were pretty ordinary affairs and I can’t see how those victories justify his price. Much more to my liking is Master Dee who was second last time in a Class 2 race at Aintree beaten by On Tour. Guitar Pete has beaten the selection twice but I fancy the placings to be reversed this time. Robinshill is one who is stepping up in class and has a chance of running into a place, but the selection is Master Dee.
Saturday Lucky Fifteen
2.40 Haydock. Ch’tibello
3.15 Haydock. Rock The Kasbah
2.25 Ascot. Oxwich Bay
3.00 Ascot. Master Dee
Contact Seymour Biz, with your own thoughts, tips and questions, at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org