The big man himself Paddy Power and our top racing trader Niall O’Reilly have picked out their top tips ahead of Saturday’s meeting at Ascot.
Speaking on the latest episode of our twice-weekly From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, the pair ran the rule over the Listed Sodexo Handicap Hurdle before attempting to pick a winner in the Grade 3 Gold Cup Handicap Chase.
I’m torn between two horses here – SEBASTOPOL and Teqany. I’m probably going to go for Sebastopol, who won first time out last year and won the Scottish Champion Hurdle. He’s only six so pretty progressive and could go on to bigger and better things.
But Teqany is a big danger because he ran only a length behind Verdana Blue, who probably ran below form, last time out at Kempton and was just behind Diego Du Charmil as well. They’re both rated way higher than Teqany so that looked a decent run and might be underrated at this stage. Sebastopol for me, but Teqany is a danger.
I had Whatmore marked down as the danger to my selection, but I’m going for the fairytale – I’m going for BLACK CORTON to do exactly what Frodon did last week under Bryony Frost and just roll back the years, grind it out and hold on. I can see Whatmore trying to chase him down but just not getting there.
I think HANG IN THERE is very interesting for Emma Lavelle. He looked very promising early last year, prior to getting a bit stuck in the mud at Sandown when behind Fiddlerontheroof. He jumped really badly there and has been a little bit disappointing since but if you go back to his run at Punchestown, Shishkin won the race and he fell at the second last but he was actually running okay at that point. There was a decent horse called Shan Blue who came second in that race, and he was probably going to finish close to him.
Hang In There came back this year and finished second-last in a race at Fontwell, but if you look at that form it has worked out really well. The third, Jacamar, won a good handicap at Aintree while the fourth and the second have run well recently as well. Hang In There has gone back to two miles because he can be very keen so at Ascot, on good-to-soft ground, I think he’s the one who could potentially make a mockery of his mark of 139. I would be backing each-way.
I would be very keen on WHATMORE here for Henry Daly, who has started the season quite well. He shaped well in a few decent novice chases last year prior to running really well in a strong Kempton handicap in February won by Mister Malarky. He probably could have gone closer to winning with a better ride, in my opinion. He ran at Cheltenham in the novice handicap chase when he was fourth, shaping really well but looking like the trip was just on the short side.
He steps up the three miles here and is definitely on a good mark, carrying just 10st 3lbs. One worry I do have is the higher-rated horses have been winning these races of late – we’ve seen what Frodon did at Cheltenham – but this race looks a bit of an exception. Seven of the last 10 winners carried 11st or less so it bodes well for Whatmore. Im very keen on this and it is one of my strongest fancies of the day.
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