There are six backable types up and down the country on Saturday, as we bet in both codes on Ascot Chase and Grand National Trial day.
1.25 Lingfield (Handicap) – KISSININTHEBACKROW
We could still be facing issues on Saturday at Lingfield and Ascot with the wind created by Storm Eunice. Much of our punting depends on those meetings going ahead and, assuming they do, our first bet comes in the early mile-and-a-quarter handicap.
State Legend is the one for money, but after her late show to score around here over a mile I reckon Kissininthebackrow’s latest run is at least as good as the form shown by the likely favourite and she gets 3lbs from him too.
Brian Meehan’s filly clearly has more improvement in her too, especially at this trip, Ryan Moore has been booked to ride and she looks very solid value to score.
Against him State Legend is respected, but he’s done his best work at Wolverhampton on the Tapeta and there is no guarantee he can repeat what he’s been doing on this surface.
Both Mashkuur and Already Gone also have the ability to go close at the weights, but it’s easy to see Moore being able to boot Kissininthebackrow clear up the straight.
1.50 Ascot (Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – CORACH RAMBLER
Four of the six runners in this crucial three-mile novice chase look very close on the numbers at first glance, Does He Know, Annual Invictus, Caroch Rambler and Doyen Breed all looking capable.
Does He Know (Kim Bailey) is solid, but his wins have come on good ground and he didn’t perform on the soft when running over hurdles.
Annual Invictus (Chris Gordon) did well on the soft last time and won more than once in wet conditions over hurdles, while he also wears a first-time sheepskin noseband.
Doyen Breed (Sandy Thomson) was second in Grade 2 company on his last run, but hasn’t improved hugely in three runs over fences so far.
The one I like best is Lucinda Russell’s impressive Cheltenham novice handicap chase winner Corach Rambler. He won in eye-catching fashion at both Aintree and Cheltenham in fact but hung right last time in the Classic Chase at Warwick.
He’s much better than that and has the assistance of Derek Fox up top who was excellent aboard Douglas Talking at Sandown on Thursday, and who may employ similarly positive tactics on this improving eight-year-old.
2.05 Haydock (Rendlesham Hurdle – Grade 2) – THOMAS DARBY
Our sole bet in the relatively calm waters of the north on Saturday comes in the Rendlesham Hurdle, a fine race and a precursor to the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next month.
Olly Murphy’s Thomas Darby is as big as 25/1 for that event, but he’s the most solid runner in this line-up for my money and rates a bet under Aidan Coleman.
Winner of this season’s Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, Thomas Darby has won on heavy ground before and should relish this test.
Third Wind, Emitom, Top Ville Ben and Molly Ollys Wishes are all dangerous if on song.
3.38 Ascot (Ascot Chase – Grade 1) – FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES
This is a massive Grade 1 chase over two miles and five furlongs, an event that could provide contenders for the Ryanair Chase and/or the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Trainer Joseph O’Brien is something like 0-50 at Ascot on the Flat and over jumps, so it’s high time he won one around here!
His Fakir D’oudairies is the one I like and O’Brien himself has gone on record to say he thinks the Ascot Chase represents a good chance for his popular runner to score at the highest level over fences.
Fakir D’oudairies has had to chase Allaho home a few times so far, but while he’s not up to that level he is already a Grade 1 winner having taken the 2½-mile Melling Chase in great style ten months ago.
As far as the ground goes, he was impressive on the soft in the Clonmel Oil Chase back in November and should be seen to best effect on this track and over this extra distance for O’Brien and jockey Mark Walsh.
Fanion D’Estruval and Saint Calvados appear to be the biggest dangers according to the betting, while Mister Fisher handles the trip and the ground but may or may not be able to put it all together at Grade 1 level.
3.45 Lingfield (Handicap) – PIRATE KING
Bugle Major has had a few mentions this week at a hefty price and to be fair this is a close-looking contest before you dig particularly deep into the form.
Celtic Art, Protected Guest and Desert Emperor are all at a similar level and all are solid in this mile-and-a-half handicap, though they all ran around a week ago and at this trip that often means they won’t be at their very best.
Pirate King on the other hand last ran a month ago which is perfect and he so often puts up solid performances over this course and distance.
Charlie Fellowes’ seven-year-old is a four-time winner over this track and trip, is on the same mark as when last winning here, is in good form and has Ryan Moore booked to ride making him a solid betting proposition.
4.20 Lingfield (Handicap) – WHITTLE LE WOODS
This is a Class 2 event worth nearly £11,000 to the winner, making the situation certain to have led to all-weather trainers preparing their horses specifically for the event.
That is backed up by the fact that main contenders Tinker Toy, Karibana, Sir Oliver, Shoot To Kill and Whittle Le Woods have been kept off the track for anything from two weeks to seven months.
Roger Varian’s Tinker Toy stayed well at Newcastle but may need that sort of surface, while Shoot To Kill is on a great run and gets the chance to keep it going having initially been declared for Friday’s abandoned card.
Karibana and Sir Oliver have done well in similar conditions to what this race provides, bust the best of them has to be Whittle Le Woods.
Mick Appleby is excellent at the all-weather tracks and has trained this improving four-year-old to manage two wins and two runner-up efforts in four outings so far.
He was a close second to the bang in-form Tommy Taylor at Newcastle, then beat Lenende D’Art at Chelmsford who won both before and after that contest.
Jason Watson is once again on board, he has the inside draw and is only 2lbs higher than when winning 18 days ago at Wolverhampton and now returns to a surface that suits his style well.