Karam Albaari won over course and distance last weekend by 2 lengths but he was value for probably even more than that. He’s up to a mark of 60 here but he won off a mark of 66 only last January and Martin Harley keeps the ride and he’s one of the best jockeys on the all-weather this year. I think he’ll be very difficult to beat here.
Santini made a lovely hurdles debut at Newbury at the start of December. The second placed that day, Chef Des Obeaux, has won very nicely twice since and the fifth placed, Bill and Barn, won at Chepstow. Nicky Henderson is in unbelievable form and is operating at a 34% strike rate and Santini should win this race at Ascot before going on and playing a part in the festivals in the Spring.
Crossed My Mind is making the trip over from Arthur Moore’s stable after his handicap hurdle. They rate this horse relatively highly and he ran at Sandown earlier this year over two miles on good to soft ground. He probably needs a bit further which he’s getting here. He’s getting two and a half miles and soft ground which will bring his stamina into play.
He’s off the same mark as the Sandown run but crucially young Jonjo O’Neill is claiming 7lbs and he’s tremendous value for that claim. I think he has a cracking each way chance and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s goes off favourite.
This a tough looking race and Rock the Kasbah looks very solid to be involved but Knockanrawley gets in off a light weight of 10 stone 4lb here. There’s plenty of front runners in the field so it will be a right test of stamina on the heavy ground over three miles and a furlong.
He was second last year in the Eider off the same mark and the Eider was run at Newcastle on normally soft ground and over 4 miles, so stamina will be no problem. Hopefully he won’t get outpaced and if he can hang on to them turning in he should be finishing very strongly. He’s a fair each way price at 12/1.
Frank’s Lucky 15 selections:
Lingfield 2.00pm – Karaam Albaari @ 15/8
Ascot 4.05pm – Santini @ 8/11
Ascot 2.25pm – Crossed My Mind @ 4/1
Haydock 3.15pm – Knockanrawley @ 12/1