Colin Tizzard’s Pingshou has been running over fences but reverts to hurdles at Haydock (2.40pm) and could be a bit of value to cause an upset in the Grade 2 Champion Hurdle trial – if the track passes an Saturday morning inspection.
There’s some decent performers in there with Silver Streak and recent Ascot winner Mohaayed, but Pingshou’s last run over hurdles was in a Grade One in where he finished third at Punchestown to Cilaos Emery and Melon, beaten under four lengths.
He was the best novice hurdler of these and the return to the smaller obstacles reignites some of that form.
He could be a bit of value in this contest.
Wakanda isn’t getting any younger but has a good record around here and was a solid fourth on his last start at Wetherby.
Meanwhile at Ascot, Magic of Light runs in the mares race at 1.55pm after winning well at Newbury on her last start. Her form is well exposed in Ireland and she doesn’t look like she has to find anything special to win here.
I couldn’t see any of these mares troubling the likes of Apple’s Jade or Benie Des Dieux at the Festival though.
There’s another Irish raider in Charles Byrnes’ Thosedaysaregone in the 2.25pm at Ascot. He won really well last weekend at Wetherby and this is a 50k race so it’s not to be sniffed at.
He’ll need to be winning this to go up the weights if connections have something like a Coral Cup in mind for him at the Festival. I don’t know if that’s the plan, but this is a valuable race so maybe they just feel it’s worth taking advantage of it.
Un de Sceaux doesn’t run in the Clarence House Chase (3.35pm) but even if he did, he’d be up against to try and beat Altior.
He’s a supreme racehorse and while there’s only three runners, hopefully Fox Norton can give him a lead on his first run back in more than a year. Altior should just go away from him when he pleases and I can see him winning this by a wide margin.
Some people say it’s wrong that he’s not the top-rated horse in training, but he can only be assessed on what he keeps beating. No matter what he does on Saturday he still won’t get a penalty for it and it could be after the Queen Mother Champion Chase before his rating is revised again.
We’ve just one runner at Navan on Saturday, where Paul Townend rides Facethefacts at 1pm. He was rated 96 on the Flat and 2m 4f around Navan should suit him. He was second on debut at Naas, but should improve for that run under his belt.
He’s a player, but Noel Meade’s Diol Ker looked like he was going to win at Leopardstown at Christmas until over-jumping the last and stumbling badly. He looks the obvious danger.
My only ride at Thurles on Sunday comes aboard Invitation Only in the Horse & Jockey Chase at 2.10pm. I had a choice between him and Total Recall but I felt the drop down in trip to 2m 4f will suit Invitation Only more than it would Total Recall.
They’ll both have to bring their ‘A’ game to get the better of Troytown Chase winner Tout Est Permis who steps into Grade 2 company after being a very impressive winner at Navan.
Earlier at Thurles, I can see Gordon Elliott’s Monbeg Worldwide winning the 2m 6f at 1pm even though he’s a little ‘wrong’ at the weights with the higher rated First Approach, whose been a little disappointing recently.
In the Grade 2 mares’ novice chase at 2.40pm, Paul Townend rides Camelia De Cotte who has improved all season and can land another big pot at the expense of her former stablemate Meri Devie.
She looks to be our best chance of a winner this weekend.