Wow. What a feast of action on ITV Racing this Saturday. We start at Ascot, then Wincanton, Haydock and Gowran Park.
Let’s crack on.
Top Ville Ben holds the key here. He’s top rated and will be trying to carry on the good run of the Philip Kirby stable. He has really taken to chasing and if the others let him dictate the pace around this trappy track, they’ll only have themselves to blame. There are a couple that have improved form since going over fences just like Top Ville Ben. Now Mcginty would prefer some juice in the ground, but with decent ground forecast, Mister Malarky could be the play here.
Black Corton won the Reynoldstown Chase on this card last year and this looks like a race he can win on Saturday. He ran a belter against the speedier Top Notch at Kempton last time and this contest should play to his strengths.
We won’t get the chance to see Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy over fences on Saturday after his hurdles win at the track last month. Just four runners go to post with Leopardstown Chase second Monalee putting his Gold Cup credentials on the line as is last year’s Blue Riband third, Anibale Fly, while Edwulf was a shock Irish Gold Cup winner 12 months ago, but hasn’t won since.
Willie Mullins’ Killutagh Vic is an interesting runner. A former Martin Pipe Conditional H’cap hurdle winner at the Festival, he then beat Thistlecrack in the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Punchestown and was a decent novice chaser before injury curtailed his career. He was third in the hurdle race Presenting Percy won here last month, having been off the track for almost a year and if back to his best form, could take all the beating here.
Clan des Obeaux fulfilled a lifetime ambition for his owner Ged Mason when winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton and there was no fluke about it. Nicky Henderson’s Terrefort bounced back to something like the level of form he showed last year when third at Cheltenham in the Cotswold Chase but this could bring up a double for Paul Nicholls on the day.
Nigel Twiston-Davies was scathing about the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) for stopping racing because of the equine flu outbreak. One of the reasons he was so mad was because he thought Al Dancer might not be able to run in the Betfair Hurdle!
The race has been rescheduled now and he looks like he will have his chance to emulate Kalashnikov and win this as a novice. He looked a cut above his mark when winning at Cheltenham. But Ascot is not as easy to navigate as Newbury, where the race was originally meant to be held and that is always a concern for a novice.
The one I like each-way is Lisp. He is proven in competitive races and at this track. H is well worth a punt.
Not many runners but this is a cracker of a race. Waiting Patiently loved it around here last year when he beat Cue Card and it’s great to see him back in action after his King George mishap. Cyrname was visually very impressive here last time when winning over this 2m 5f trip.
Politologue has a perfect two-wins-out-of-two record at Ascot and his fourth-placed finish in the 3m King George probably stretched his stamina a bit. This shorter trip is perfect for him. They will go quick here from the start and his jumping will allow him to coast into the race.
He gets my vote.
It’s hard to look past Kerry Lee’s Gino Trail here with lots in his favour. Finished second on his return at Sandown after winning three times last season. He’s top-rated and only has four rivals to contend with and should strip fitter for that Sandown run.
The Kingwell Hurdle sees Sceau Royal back over hurdles despite having been chasing for nearly two seasons. His connections have found a perfect opportunity for him ahead of Cheltenham and he will be tough to beat in this, receiving weight from some of his rivals.
Yanworth usually runs well fresh and will be hard to beat in the Rendelsham Hurdle. There’s just the seven runners so if you want one for the forecast or one that’s a bit of value then Shades of Midnight could be it.
Colin Tizzard’s Robinsfirth should improve for this drying ground. Was second to Wakanda in the Peter March Chase over course and distance a month ago and should strip fitter this time. Hasn’t had much racing either and could be open to improvement still, despite being a 10-year-old.
*Prices correct at time of posting