Storm Dennis could cause chaos with Saturday’s fixtures so let’s hope we beat the elements and have good quality racing at Ascot, Haydock Park and Wincanton for you on ITV.
We kick-off at Ascot and the first ITV race is the Grade 2 3m Reynoldstown Chase at 13.50. Pym put up a good win over course and distance in November and beat Kim Bailey’s Imperial Aura at Cheltenham last time.
I’m just not convinced that Pym is a real slogger on the likely testing ground. If Nico de Boinville can dictate up front and go steady – he will be tough to pass. The others will not let him have it all his own way though, so Sam Brown is the one that I have been quite taken with. He could be the one to beat if it turns into a slog.
The 14.25 is a Listed 3m Handicap Chase and Domaine De Lisle won bravely at this track last time. The step up in trip will suit, so he has to be respected. Red Indian was one we give a big shout out to last time at Haydock but looked like he didn’t stay the trip. This may be better for him.
Regal Encore loves Ascot and won a very valuable race here last time and only has a 4lb rise to overcome. He has to be respected as does Jepeck after a Veterans’ Chase win last time at Sandown.
Valtor won at the track last season and won again here over hurdles. This 3m trip is better for him and he gets the nod to deliver.
Eden du Houx was a very good bumper horse and won at Chepstow last time after having a wind op. He was a little disappointing at the Welsh track and just scrambling home, so that is an obvious concern.
I prefer Jollys Cracked It at the prices and he ran a lovely race last time when third at Ascot. He looks a very good each-way bet in a competitive heat.
The feature race on the card, the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at 15.35 has attracted just four runners but there’s no getting away from the highest-rated chaser in the UK, Cyrname.
He looked a little off-colour when running in the King George and I think you’ve got to judge him on his beating of the mighty Altior at this track over this trip in November. He burst onto the scene in this race last year and should still win even if not running up to his rating.
Irish import Riders Onthe Storm is loving life in the care of Nigel Twiston Davies and has won both of his starts for his new trainer. He is a very strong traveller, a good jumper and running in this better race will suit his running style.
Cyrname could just be too good at a track he excels at.
There’s a Champion Hurdle trial in the shape of the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at 14.45 at Wincanton and this looks a really good opportunity for Ch’tibello to get back on track.
It is great to see Elgin who won this in 2018 back after a lay-off. He beat Ch’tibello that day too. Song for Someone ran a cracker in a handicap last time and races with his heart on his sleeve. Ch’tibello will be hard to beat, but if Elgin is fit enough he could be worth a punt at the likely prices.
The 3m Grade 2 Hurdle at Haydock at 14.05 looks an ideal opportunity for The Worlds End. He capitalised on a weak finish from L’Ami Serge at Ascot and this looks a great opportunity to back that up.
Emitom is on a retrieval mission after jumping very poorly at Cheltenham in the Relkeel Hurdle. He has a lot of ability as he showed when finishing behind Champ in a Grade 1 hurdle at Aintree. His jumping left a lot to be desired last time and will need to have improved markedly if he’s to get his head in front.
The Grand National weights were published earlier this week and a couple in the 3m 4f Handicap Chase at 15.15 will be hoping to enhance their claims for Aintree.
Last season’s Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape and this year’s third Yala Enki look the leading contenders. If only Elegant Escape could jump better in his races, he would be a better betting proposition.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Yala Enki on the other hand won this contest in 2018 (trained by Venetia Williams) and was very good when winning at Taunton last time.
The trip and ground are no problem and he looks the one to beat.
Let’s hope all the Saturday action gets the green light.