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1.50 Ascot – Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)
The likely favourite is still improving over fences and faced similar conditions last time at Kempton when winning the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. Paul Nicholls’ charge should be capable of running to a mark in the low 160’s now which would make him hard to beat here.
The rank outsider has only had four chases and may still improve yet, but shouldn’t be winning this.
Ruth Jefferson brings two down to Ascot from Yorkshire and it would be great if she could grab a winner, Mount Mews presenting her with some sort of a chance having improved markedly in his two chase races to date. He’ll need to jump better than at Doncaster when he was a little slow at the obstacles.
The 7yo mare has won three in a row since going chasing and is fancied by many however it’s easy to see Mount Mews improving past her here and then there’s the small matter of catching Black Corton.
Mount Mews is an interesting contender, though anything better than tips-on looks value about BLACK CORTON and the impressive Bryony Frost could be on another winner.
2.05 Haydock – Rendlesham Hurdle (Grade 2)
Heavy ground is nothing new for the odds-on jolly and if anything the ground may help him avoid a repeat of his defeat in this race last year. He’s a high class horse on this going and will take some pegging back.
Won this last year but it may take more this time around and generally speaking he doesn’t reach the required level often enough.
A very interesting contender stepping up in trip after an all the way success over 2m3f last time out, though a lot more is needed to reach Agrapart’s level in truth.
An unoriginal selection, but if AGRAPART is in good order then on this ground he should have no trouble seeing off this field. Boite may be best of the rest.
2.25 Wincanton – Kingwell Hurdle (Grade 2)
Solid enough at this level on this balance of his form and there should be more to come, however this requires a big step forward.
Call Me Lord
The young pretender and until very recent times he’d been the strong favourite for this, around half of all bets going on him for this race.
Not a prolific winner, but one who is capable of seeing to this lot and it would be no surprise to see him usurp Call Call Me Lord as favourite come the off.
Dan Skelton’s CH’TIBELLO looks the one for me, last year’s runner-up behind Yanworth looking the class act in the race despite the potential of Call Me Lord who is second best.
3.15 Haydock – Grand National Trial Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
The National favourite doesn’t have to win this before Aintree, but it may help. Having run 4th in the big one and won over the National fences in December it’s easy to see why he’s well fancied but he is going up and up in the weights and it will not be easy to lump 11st 12lbs round here today.
January’s win round here on heavy ground is a major pointer and after only seven chase races Colin Tizzard’s gelding is still improving plenty. For me, he’s still ahead of the handicapper and may run into a place once again.
Three Faces West
There’s more to come from Phillip Hobbs’ 10yo who was favourite when falling here last time out but who’d won easily on the heavy ground in December 2016 with a performance which would put him well ahead of the assessor here. Assuming he is ready to put his best foot forward he may have half a stone in hand and could be the one to be on.
A lively outsider for Paul Nicholls who has only had five chases but who on most recent evidence perhaps doesn’t seem to have a lot in hand.
Wild West Wind
Coming along nicely, but though the improvement is there it is gradual and he may need a bigger step forward to take this one.
Phillips Hobbs’ THREE FACES WEST looks cracking value to run a big one here given his previous form and with conditions in his favour, he is the pick ahead of The Dutchman.
3.35 Ascot – Ascot Chase (Grade 1)
Another fast improver and one who is right in the mix, though despite some excellent performances it’s not certain he will put his best foot forward on ground this soft.
There’s a lot of debate about whether he should have been retired by now and despite bullish comments from the Tizzard camp the truth is that Cue Card hasn’t produced the sort of performance required here for quite some time.
Nick Henderson’s gelding is certainly well named and put in what was arguably his best performance at Taunton last time in the Peterborough Chase over this distance given that he didn’t have to overly extend himself to score. Further improvement is on the cards today making him a rock solid favourite.
Ruth Jefferson’s second big contender of the day here is the one they’ve been waiting for and money came for the 7yo on Friday. His last win was at Listed level, though he did that so easily and is improving hand over fist. It’s six in a row now for the gelding and seven is not out of the question.
Top Notch is the obvious one and it’ll take a special one to beat him, but WAITING PATIENTLY could be that special one and seven-timer may well be on the cards.