The coverage at Ascot starts with a limited handicap chase over 2m 3f. One horse who has some Ascot form is FALCO BLITZ, who goes for the Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville. He won on heavy ground at this track back in January of this year, but has plenty of form on a better surface. He’s not chucked in by any manner of means off a mark of 132, but is lightly raced and you would have to think connections believe he will make a chaser going straight into handicap company.
Some top class action at Wetherby gets under way with a Handicap Chase over nearly 2m 4f. MINELLA FOR ME has each-way claims here for Tom George and Jonathan Burke.
My hope is lightly raced and unlikely to improve at the age of 10. However, he returned this term with a good run at Warwick. Lots of these might not be strong stayers and this gelding gets home well. He has place claims at the very least.
Next is a Listed Handicap Chase over 2m 1f. Capeland could easily outclass this lot, but IBLEO might have more to give for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch. My hope scored at Huntingdon and Wincanton earlier this year and, after just 10 races, might well have a bit more to offer. The French import might be good enough getting over a stone from the Nicholls runner.
Now a Listed Mares’ Hurdle over 2m, where it’s impossible to oppose VERDANA BLUE in this for Jeremiah McGrath and Nicky Henderson. The class mare has a high rating off 155 and has been in tremendous form on the Flat. She really should take all the beating and win very easily indeed.
As a bonus ITV also cover this big Irish race, which is a Grade 1 over 3m. The key player here is PRESENTING PERCY, as he could run huge on his first run for Gordon Elliott. Of course, the handler also has Delta Work in the field, but I like Presenting Percy with Denis O’Regan in the saddle.
The gelding was closing when coming down in the Gold Cup in March and has always had loads of ability as he showed when routing the field in the RSA. He could be a different proposition here now with a new yard.
Grade 2 company here with a staying hurdle over 3m. The Stayers’ Hurdle hero LISNAGAR OSCAR is not being given any respect in the betting here, with most bookies seemingly thinking his success was a fluke and down to the flop of Paisely Park. Rebecca Curtis has always held the Cheltenham hero in high regard, and it’s a mistake to try and take him on with Adam Wedge on board.
The action at Ascot continues after a break with a Listed Handicap Hurdle over nearly 2m. This is a very tough race to cal. However, there has to be a chance COUNTISTER is a bit better than this lot.
With just four runs in the last two years the eight-year-old mare is clearly hard to train, but in that time the Henderson runner was a fabulous third to Ch’tibello in the Grade 3 County Hurdle. She’s only 2lb higher here so if on fire might be hard to hold.
For many this is the big one, the Grade 3 Charlie Hall Chase over 3m. I have to take Cyrname going left-handed over this trip for all that I accept he’s the class act and a good thing on ratings.
The horse I will have a few quid on each-way is the defending Charlie Hall champion BALLYOPTIC, who represents the father/son combination of Nigel Twiston-Davies and Sam Twiston-Davies. The 10-year-old loves this track and stays very well, so while he has a bit to find with Cyrname should the latter bring his A game, he has place claims that are strong.
And finally at Ascot, it’s a Grade 3 Handicap Chase over 3m. REGAL ENCORE absolutely loves this track and it’s not impossible he can win this off a mark of 145.
Richie McLernon rides for Anthony Honeyball and if anywhere near his best on seasonal debut, he will be hard to kick out the frame at the very least. Black Corton’s presence means he has a lovely raving weight.
So, bets of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?
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13:20 Ascot – Falco Blitz
13:35 Wetherby – Minella For Me
13:55 Ascot – Ibleo
14:10 Wetherby – Verdana Blue
14:25 Down Royal – Presenting Percy
14:45 Wetherby – Lisnagar Oscar
15:05 Ascot – Countister
15:20 Wetherby – Ballyoptic
15:40 Ascot – Regal Encore
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