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A bit of a lottery hence why it has been put on TV! I’m going to hope that despite a huge weight KID COMMANDO is just too classy after his Ascot romp last time for Anthony Honeyball and Aidan Coleman.
Ascot’s coverage gets underway with a Grade 2 chase over 2m 5f. This gives the improving Imperial Aura a massive chance to score make for Kim Bailey and David Bass. The in-form duo teamed up well to land a handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival and returned in winning ways at Carlisle at the beginning of the month.
On ratings he has much to find with Real Steel, but I have a feeling the latter is flattered by his mark. That said, outsider BLACK CORTON will be hard to peg back if allowed to dictate. I’m hoping Bryony Frost will bang him out in front and make all.
Now a handicap hurdle over an extended 3m and this is wide open. Former Champion Bumper winner Relegate is in the field and he has a good run at this trip at Punchestown to his name. However, I will back THIRD WIND each-way after a fine fourth in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham and a comeback fifth at Newbury earlier this month. He should go well for Hughie Morrison and Jonjo O’Neill Jnr.
Another Grade 2 here, but this time a hurdle over an extended 2m 3f. With Goshen out the way this has cut up, and it’s hard to see it having any bearing on the Champion Hurdle unless LAURINA bounces back to her best. That’s a big if, as she was absolutely terrible last season for Willie Mullins. She is with Paul Nicholls now, and gets one more chance as she could easily dictate here and make all.
The fact is she is rated the same as Call Me Lord and 3lb better than Indefatigable, yet she gets nearly a stone from the Nicky Henderson runner and 4lb from the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle heroine. Fingers crossed she is back to her best.
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This is the big one, a Grade 1 chase for King George and Gold Cup hopes over an extended 3m 1f. Clan des Obeaux will be no push over and Bristol de Mai loves the track, but I have to go with last year’s winner LOSTINTRANSLATION for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power.
After flopping in the King George, he was back to his best at Cheltenham when third behind Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup and on that form, he should be good enough to take this once again. He’s also a horse that appears to go well fresh.
This handicap chase at Ascot is one of Paddy’s qualifiers for the Win £1 Million Chase on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham. You need to OPT IN first and then try and back the winner to qualify so let’s give it a shot.
This won’t be easy for the Bass/Bailey runner FIRST FLOW on debut, but he’s hugely exciting and loves the mud. A natural front-runner, First Flow was always a decent hurdler and promises to be even better over fences. He just has to show that dominating small fields is not all he is good at.
More Top tips for the Millionaire Chase qualifier
- Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey’s punts for the race at 15.17
- Paddy’s punting panel reveal their selections
- Our runner-by-runner guide to the big race at Ascot
This could be a right slog, with a handicap chase over an extended 3m 4f and wow, this is tough. I’ll back POBBLES BAY each-way for the Paddy Power Gold Cup hero Evan Williams. My hope is a very well handicapped horse at the moment and stays strong on a going day. Sean Bowen takes the ride, and he should be fit after a run at Aintree in October.
So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?
There’s a lot of guesswork here with a bunch of unraced horses. That said, I’ll have a few quid on Wraysford for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville. On paper, the son of Presenting should be useful.
13:50 Haydock – Kid Commando
14:05 Ascot – Black Corton
14:25 Haydock – Third Wind
14:40 Ascot – Laurina
15:00 Haydock – Lostintranslation
15:17 Ascot – First Flow
15:35 Haydock – Pobbles Bay
15:50 Ascot – Wraysford
- Paddy Power’s Millionaire Chase: When this week’s Qualifying race takes place & how to enter
- Paddy Power’s Millionaire Chase: All you need to know about the MILLION quid New Year’s Day giveaway