Ruby Walsh: Top tips for Saturday at Ascot, Haydock & Gowran Park

Three tracks. Eight races. One Ruby Walsh.

Ruby-Walsh-Cheltenham

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There’s some great racing on Saturday in the UK and Ireland and hopefully Gowran Park gets the green light after an 8am inspection. It’s a good card and Willie Mullins looks to have some decent chances.

However, he also sends Eight and Bob over to Haydock for the 3m Handicap Hurdle at 14.25. Paisley Park won this on his way to the Stayers’ Hurdle crown at Cheltenham last season, but whether there’s another Paisley Park in the field we’ll have to see. We’d be hoping that Eight and Bob can make the journey worthwhile by hitting the places at least, but David Pipe’s Umbrigado looks to have been laid out for this race.

LostinTranslation-.-Count-Meribel

The Betfair Chase is the feature race on the Haydock card at 15.00 and Bristol De Mai is looking for a three-timer. However, if Lostintranslation is the horse connections think he is, he’ll need to be stamping his authority on a race like this  – particularly seeing as he’s won at Carlisle already this season and should be bang fit.

Down south at Ascot, all eyes will be on the clash between Altior and Cyrname over 2m 5f at 14.05. I’ve gone into more detail in my PP News column about why I’d pick Altior. I’m a big fan and expect him to cope with the step up in trip and the front-running Cyrname in Saturday’s mouth-watering clash. Cyrname has the 1lb higher rating, but Altior has the CV of 19 runs unbeaten.

He’s an incredible racehorse and I’m on his side.

Altior-Ascot-Jan-19

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There’s a decent undercard too and the Ascot Hurdle at 14.40 sees If the Cap Fits and Roksana clash again after they both got the better of Apples Jade in a thriller at Aintree last season.

Nicky Henderson’s Call me Lord is a highly-touted horse, but If the Cap Fits can uphold his winning form with Roksana and see off Call Me Lord too.

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It’s an early start at Gowran Park with the first, a 2m maiden hurdle due off at 11.50am.

But it’s the 2m Maiden Hurdle at 12.25 that catches my interest as Mt Leinster is due to run. The heavy ground is a concern though and there’s a couple of others like Eagle Moon for Henry de Bromhead and Gordon Elliott’s Easywork in it. Easywork could have a  fitness edge over the other two, having won at Down Royal earlier this month.

The 2m Novice Hurdle at 13.00 looks a decent race for four-year-olds. Willie Mullins runs a nice horse called Franco De Port, but exactly how good he is we’re not sure. He’ll have to be pretty good though to beat Noel Meade’s Sixshooter who is unbeaten in three starts – two in bumpers and a maiden hurdle.

There’s only five runners in the 2m 4f Chase at 14.10 where Getabird takes on Mengli Khan, Mortal, Paloma Blue and Castlebrook.  The trip, heavy ground and right-handed track are all in Getabird’s favour.

He should collect.

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Next up is the beginners chase at 14.45 over 2m 4f and features Minella Indo and Laurina.

It’s a rivetting race.

Minella Indo was brilliant last year, winning two Grade One at Cheltenham and Punchestown over 3m, but he drops back to 2m 4f on Saturday. Laurina was a leading contender going into the Champion Hurdle last season, but never fired at all. The ground and the step up in trip to 2m 4f should really suit her too.

Paul Townend is delighted with her and I think she’ll beat Minella Indo.

*Prices and declarations correct at time of publishing 

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