A very tricky start to ITV’s coverage which gets under way with a handicap chase over 2m 3f. BENNYS KING is not a well handicapped horse and has nothing in hand but he jumps well and is likely to run his race. He will have blown a few cobwebs away at Aintree on seasonal debut and ran really well here at Ascot in January. Should give Harry Skelton a good spin for his brother trainer Dan and I will back him each-way.
Haydock’s first race on the ITV network comes up quickly after with a handicap hurdle over 2m 3f. There’s every chance OUR POWER will run a big one here for Nigel Twiston-Davies and his son Sam. My selection was behind War Lord last time but he was hampered by a faller three out that day and kept on well once getting his act together. With a change in weights as well, I think he has a cracking each-way chance.
Now the feature Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle over an extended 3m. This is a cracker. No guarantee of a strong pace here so while Paisley Park will be hard to beat being 3lb better off with THYME HILL for a Newbury defeat last time I’ll take the latter to confirm the form. Thyme Hill might be less reliant on a strong gallop, and he’s also improving all the time so he has much in his favour with Richard Johnson on for the master trainer Philip Hobbs.
A handicap chase many look forward to in the Tommy Whittle over an extended 3m1f. This is tough. SOJOURN looks a dour stayer for Anthony Honeyball and goes in the mud. Rex Dingle is on top the recent Carlisle winner and the lightly raced sort might have more to come after just seven runners so he could improve off a workable handicap mark.
So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?
A Listed handicap chase now over 3m. Another really decent event. Regal Encore did this column a favour when scoring at this track the time before last but he’s high in the handicap now. The one they all surely have to beat is THE CONDITIONAL, who has been dropped 1lb despite running a cracking race at Newbury on seasonal debut.
I have a feeling the David Bridgwater challenger will improve a lot for that effort and Brendan Powell takes the ride. My only slight worry is going right handed as he has been kept to left-handed tracks since running in the UK. Brendan Powell takes the ride.
This is a wide open handicap hurdle over nearly 2m. I’ll give the Anthony Honeyball runner KID COMMANDO another chance here despite him disappointing a little at Haydock last time. I don’t think that performance matched the one he posted here at Ascot on seasonal debut. It might just be he got stuck in the mud at Haydock.
Ascot is clearly his place and while it’s interesting Aidan Coleman has opted to ride Time Flies By, that is probably more to do with his Epatante connection than an actual form decision.
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