The Grade 1 Marsh Hurdle, known to many as the Long Walk Hurdle, is run at Ascot this Saturday but unfortunately, it’ll have to be a watching brief for us. Paisley Park looks rock solid at 1/4 but more pertinently it is too close to call between three in behind fighting for one each-way place for us to get involved.
There is some great value to be nabbed elsewhere on the card though, along with bets at Haydock Park and on the all-weather at Lingfield so it may yet prove to be a rather fruitful day and a chance to boost the Christmas coffers.
1.00 Haydock (Abram Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – Listed Race) – EARLY MORNING RAIN
We’re set for heavy ground at Haydock Park and so these mares will certainly be feeling things by the end, especially given that those in with a shout are moving up in trip today to two miles, three furlongs.
While Flow Away has won two in a row now and much is expected of bumper winner It’s Probably Me being thrown straight into Listed company, I reckon this race comes down to Deja Vue and her old rival Early Morning Rain.
Anthony Honeyball’s Deja Vue is on a hat-trick after two incredibly easy wins at Ffos Las, and to be fair we have no idea where and when her improvement may stop. She’s won on heavy ground which goes in her favour, but sometimes it’s better to stick with the simple evidence right in front of you and that leads to Early Morning Rain.
While Deja Vue was favourite, Jamie Snowden’s mare did beat her when they met at Fontwell in November over 2m1½ furlongs and in fact it could be the distance that tells once more. This horse has done arguably better than her main rivals over slightly longer trips, while her own facile win at Lingfield recently showed her too to be a horse going places.
1.15 Ascot (Graduation Chase) – ON THE BLIND SIDE
There are a few ifs, buts and maybes regarding this five-runner field and so whatever you go for you’d be taking a slight chance on to a degree. At the forecast prices however, Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old On The Blind Side looks good value in receipt of weight from the rest of the field and he gets the nod.
He should handle this sort of ground, especially over this 2m5f trip, had already reached a mark 2lbs higher than his hurdle ranking after one less run and could have been coming into this race a strong favourite had things gone as expected in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
He pulled-up there which was not his real form, but at 8/1 he was expected to have finished right in the front rank and if he had, he’d be coming into this rated around 154 and level with top one Double Shuffle who now gives him 7lbs.
He was said to be never travelling at Newbury and his master trainer wouldn’t bring him out now if there were problems at home, so his quality may just tell today with Riders Onthe Storm favoured for second.
1.30 Lingfield (Fillies’ Conditions Stakes) – LUCYMAI
These rather middle of the road seven-furlong conditions races are often trappy affairs and are usually to be largely ignored for betting purposes, but purely on the numbers there is something that can’t be ignored here and that’s the potentially sizeable advantage Lucymai has on private ratings.
Dealing with the challengers first; 3yo Visionara looks no better than an 80 horse and probably shouldn’t be 5/1 which she is overnight, 6yo Emily Goldfinch looks to be around the same level and is just 7/2 while likely favourite Rock On Baileys is rated 92 now but is by no means certain to run up to her best over this course and distance today.
Taking weight-for-age into account as well as the handicap, Lucymai was a good 5lbs or so better than Rock on Baileys when they were first and second at Chelmsford in August last year and she is one capable of running right up to her best now.
Having made a low-key return in October, Dean Ivory’s 6yo improved greatly in late November and is expected to take another significant step forward here which should make her top dog, something the overnight odds are not necessarily reflecting.
2.00 Lingfield (Quebec Stakes – Listed Race) – DUBAI WARRIOR
We won’t get an earth-shattering price about John Gosden’s favourite here, but he does rate as a very confident bet in this 1m2f Listed event.
The top trainer is well versed in winning races over this distance at Lingfield, farming such events last year with Wissahickon who on two occasions had stablemate Court House in behind and he is in this field today. A solid type, he is still only a four-year-old but he’s coming back off a 246-day absence and isn’t guaranteed to be at his very best.
Anything Mick Appleby runs on the all-weather should be noted and his Kasbaan is not without a chance in this heat after his steadily improving performances over this distance both here and at Chelmsford, though it has been in defeat including behind Dubai Warrior.
Dubai Warrior was thought of as a Derby horse earlier in the year and may have even made it there but for a setback, but since getting back on track over a mile in August he has improved nicely.
His win last time against Kasbaan was simple enough and he can only get better in ideal conditions, while on private ratings he is comfortably clear of Court House and with the second on this list being his stablemate and not the choice of Rab Havlin, there is even great confidence garnered.
At the time of writing only two bookmakers had released odds, putting up Dubai Warrior at 5/4 and 6/4, the latter making him backable and even more so should his price go up due to lack of interest which remains possible.