Another cracking weekend of racing is in prospect, at least if the weather holds up with yet more storms battering the country left and right.
Lingfield is slowly gearing up towards its valuable all-weather championships day at Easter and we have a good value shout in their sprint handicap at 2.35, while over the jumps there are various opportunities at Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton.
Look out for a strong run from Riders Onthe Storm in the Ascot Chase at 3.35, although in all honesty he should not beat a fully fit Cyrname meaning there is no bet for us in the big Grade 1 given the prices on offer.
We kick off instead with Ascot’s second race, the £40,000 Reynoldstown Chase.
1.50 Ascot (Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – PYM
While given the class of this race we of course have a fair idea of where these horses already are in their chasing careers thus far, it is still a novice event and as such we have to use the form of the horses they’ve finished close to in order to assess their real current ability.
With that in mind, as well as the receipt of weight and the fast rate of his improvement this season, the best of them looks to be Nicky Henderson’s Pym. The fact that he’s won over this course and distance and on soft going isn’t harmful at all either and so he is taken to score here ahead of Sam Brown and Copperhead for the yards of Anthony Honeyball and Colin Tizzard respectively.
2.05 Haydock (Rendlesham Hurdle – Grade 2) – EMITOM
Tom George’s nine-year-old The World’s End looks like being a very short-priced favourite for this race, and while he makes the shortlist his overnight odds I feel just don’t at all reflect his true chances in this fine Grade 2 event.
Even older than him is West Approach, another for the powerful Colin Tizzard operation who has a better chance here than his form figures of 21U3P would suggest, but on a more striking upward trajectory is the 6yo Emitom and he looks easily the best value in the race at 3/1 and bigger.
Warren Greatrex’s bay won three novice hurdles on the spin last season and looked to be really going places before probably just running out of puff at Aintree. He finished a fine second to Champ in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle there, an event he could well have taken had he been just a tad fresher.
He could be coming into this already a Grade 1 winner then and having had a pipe-opener this term, which is the positive way to look at his admittedly underwhelming reappearance at Cheltenham in January, he should trip fitter now and so back on a track that will suit him much better he can prove his class under Gavin Sheehan.
2.35 Lingfield (Handicap) – HARRY’S BAR
This race revolves around likely odds-on shot Kachy and many will be putting Tom Dascombe’s course specialist speed demon in their doubles and trebles, but back in a handicap and carrying 10-2 there’s no way we can describe the seven-year-old as anything like a good thing.
He is not regarded by many as expected to be in the form of his life for this return, a thought that has developed after his defection from his last intended race, so with that in mind there are others to have against him including Peter Hedger’s Total Commitment and our boy Harry’s Bar for James Fanshawe.
The latter-named hasn’t finished outside of the places on the all-weather in ten runs to date and a proper look through his form tends to reveal a thought that he could prefer Lingfield over Kempton and Newcastle. So, with a new career best now looking quite likely, Harry’s Bar appears better handicapped than the jolly and gets the vote with crack rider Andrea Atzeni on board.
2.45 Wincanton (Kingwell Hurdle – Grade 2) – SONG FOR SOMEONE
This is one of Wincanton’s two major two-mile hurdle races during the season and it is arguably still underrated as a contest, although to be fair I don’t think we’ll be seeing next month’s Champion Hurdle winner here.
There are four to take against the field and all are within 5lbs of each other on private ratings, but given that Wincanton’s two-mile track is one of the fastest in the country it felt germane to assess the contenders’ speed ratings on soft over this distance as well as their normal expected performance before coming to a conclusion.
Having done that, the one that looks the best value and could properly come of age is Tom Symonds’ Song For Someone, a five-year-old who has continued to improve recently despite going over seemingly unsuitable longer trips.
Back over this distance he could prove to be the best of these under jockey James Nixon, ahead of the better-known Quel Destin of Paul Nicholls’ yard and the returning Elgin for Alan King. Ch’tibello is best of the rest.
4.45 Ascot (Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race) – FORTHEGREATERGOOD
Ascot’s closing contest is the bumper, not a particularly strong race of course but one that could provide one last bit of value during our punting day.
That value comes in the shape of Fergal O’Brien’s Forthegreatergood, a point-to-point winning mare. She didn’t perform to a great level on her bumper debut, fairing not as well as chief rivals Sabrina and Belle De Manech for example, but there are other variables to consider.
Having been sent off favourite at Uttoxeter back in December more was expected of her under rules though ultimately, she could do no better than third. Having been freshened up, had a wind operation and been given a tongue-tie for this reappearance a much better performance is expected and so if she lives up to previous expectations, she can be good enough to see of this field and hopefully at a very attractive price.
The aforementioned Sabrina for Paul Nicholls and Belle De Manech for Anthony Honeyball are next on the list, while there should be support for Harry Fry’s unbeaten Pure Bliss.