A feast of action on ITV Racing with Ascot and Haydock taking centre-stage. We start at Haydock ..
Recent Ascot run-away winner Kid Commando is one of the leading players with Harry Redknapp’s Shakem Uparry who won very easily at Ffos Las. Umbrigado will have his supporters and represents really good each-way value in this.
He finished fifth in another race at this meeting last year and carries a 3lb lower now. He also has a very good 7lb claimer on board in Fergus Gillard. Jonjo O’Neill’s Arrivederci won nicely last time and is reasonably handicapped, while Flash the Steel is not badly handicapped on his win at Chepstow last season and ran well on his comeback. Umbrigado is the one for me at an each-way price.
There’s only four runners, but it’s a fascinating contest. Real Steel bolted up first time out last season for Willie Mullins but races now for Paul Nicholls and you can be pretty sure he will have Real Steel ready for this contest. The only negative is that all the others have had a recent run.
Black Corton is a little bit of a forgotten horse in the race and is fairly treated by the conditions and should run well. Cheltenham Festival winner Imperial Aura is progressive and won nicely at Carlisle on his seasonal bow.
This 3m handicap hurdle for Stayers is a real feast. David Pipe’s Main Fact is chasing a nine-timer under both codes and has been a revelation this season. He’s a winning machine but his handicap mark reflects that now. He may not have reached his ceiling yet though.
Irish raider The Jam Man bolted up the competitive Troytown Chase at Navan last weekend off a much lower chase mark and it would be folly to dismiss his chances as he has shown he can be competitive at this level.
Hughie Morrison’s Third Wind has to be respected after an encouraging comeback run at Newbury. Some of his form is top-notch – including when fourth in the Pertemps Final at the Festival – just a short-head in front of today’s rival Relegate. I see Third Wind playing a part in the outcome.
A three-runner race where Laurina is having her first start for Paul Nicholls having joined from Willie Mullins’ yard. She receives weight from both Call Me Lord and Song for Someone and with only 10 st 7lb on her back, she is going to be very tough to beat.
She has had a wind operation in the summer and she did burst a blood vessel once last season, so that’s a concern. If she runs to her capabilities they won’t beat her. Call Me Lord will strip fitter after a recent run and will last home better than he did in this race last year.
This Betfair Chase is all about quality not quantity, with Lostintranslation doing a demolition job in this race last year beating Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai before going on later in the season to finish a gutsy third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
I went down to see the apple of Colin Tizzard’s eye two weeks ago and he looked amazing. It’s his seasonal debut and his second run this year will be in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on December 26th. The worry is the very soft ground it was nowhere near as soft when he won this last season.
Bristol de Mai is a star at Haydock and could be the value bet against the likely favourite. He has won this race twice already and was second last year. Paul Nicholls Clan des Obeaux was second on debut last season in the Champion Chase at Down Royal last year and then bolted up in the King George. It strikes me that he will be better with a run under his belt. While Lostintranslation ticks all the boxes, Bristol De Mai is the value bet to me.
This is the second of Paddy Power’s Qualifying races for the £1m New Years Day giveaway at Cheltenham and it’s a good little contest. Be sure to OPT IN first here to be eligible for Monday’s draw if you back the winner.
Magic Saint reappears after his comfortable success at Cheltenham last weekend but has been raised 7lb by the handicapper. His jockey is now only claiming 3lb (as opposed to last week’s 5lb) so he is actually 9lbs higher in the ratings.
That will make life difficult and there are a few in here with strong claims. Henry De Bromhead sends Abbey Magic over from Ireland and she won nicely at Cork last time in soft ground and looks a really good each-way play.
Magic Saint’s stablemate Capeland won this contest last year but didn’t jump too fluently on his reappearance when failing to complete the course at this venue. However, Paul Nicholls has put some cheekpieces on to sharpen his jumping up and that can have the desired effect. He’s my selection.
We don’t often cover NH Flat races or ‘bumpers’ as they’re known in Ireland but there could be a few smart prospects in here. We’ve no form to go on but Nicky Henderson usually introduces some nice types in these races and saddles Wraysford, a brother to Call the Cops, who was a useful hurdler.
The big yards are all represented though and market support usually speaks volumes in these contests.
Evan Williams had a Saturday to remember when winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup with Coole Cody last weekend and can be among the winners with Pobbles Bay in this 3m 4f handicap chase. The 10-year-old was a well beaten second to Minellacelebration at Aintree on reappearance but is back at the same handicap mark that saw him win last April at Ffos Las over this trip.
*Odds quoted on the widget are correct at time of publishing but all prices are subject to change.
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