The opening novice hurdle has a mare of Nicky Henderson’s, Dame De Compaigne, who created a very good impression when winning first time in the UK. She bolted up in an ordinary race at Uttoxeter before appearing very one paced at Cheltenham behind Slate House. I have no doubt she is better than she showed that day, even if she was running on well when the race was over. I take her to win.
The Reynoldstown has not been a great trial for the RSA in the past but followers of Black Corton will be hoping he can buck that trend! This horse has been a revelation over fences and he appears to be getting better. His form is strong and he is a solid jumper, but he’s going to be a tough nut to crack at a track which puts a premium on good jumping. Ms Parfois could surprise a few here even though she has a bit to find on the ratings.
Only 7 runners here but a few good ones in the line up. Gold Present has been climbing up the ratings after his last two wins. His performance last time when winning over course and distance was superb. He posted a very fast time and beat Frodon who contests the Grade 1 Ascot Chase later in the day. He is a superb jumper who has the Grand National as his ultimate target. Holly Bush Henry ran a great race last time at Sandown, and is still attractively handicapped to run a big race here with only 10st 1lb on his back. Gold Present to win though.
Another good little handicap here, but I cant help but be drawn to the JP McManus-owned Dieg Man. This horse has won ordinary races in the north and because of it he could be very well handicapped. He has form at the top track s in France and with only 10st 7lbs could be very well in.
Stowaway magic could be interesting at an each-way price back over hurdles.
15:35 Ascot Chase
People are always moaning about small fields in some of these races. But I defy anybody to moan about this small field – this is quality not quantity. Between them, these horses have won 57 races and over £2.4m pounds in prize money!
Cue Card with Paddy Brennan back on would be a hell of a story were he to win. Waiting Patiently would be a poignant winner with Ruth Jefferson taking over the license after the death of the man who nurtured this horse’s career . It would be very emotional if he were to win and reward her late father for his patience with this horse. Top Notch is a little tiger who is very talented. Throw in Frodon, who won a competitive handicap by 17 lengths last time, plus Coney Island and we are set up for a cracker.
I love Top Notch and the faster they go the better he will be but I cant get away from Coney Island either. If Coney Island is to be real Gold Cup contender then he has to be winning or going very close here. He should have too many guns for Top Notch and may just outstay him in a true run race. Frodon to complete the trio.
Good handicap hurdle here and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Templeross has a visor on for the first time tomorrow. That could just get him back to the sort of form he was showing last year when a beaten favourite at Ascot and finishing second to Modus at Kempton in the Lanzarote.
Mares bumper to finish, and Nicky Henderson must always be respected in these events and his recent Irish purchase will be warm here for punters – but keep an eye out for Rosy World. Suzy Smith does well with her small string and this one is out of her great mare Material World.