Inside today’s main piece I begin my look ahead to the weekend’s big races. Plus, I preview what looks a competitive veteran’s chase at Warwick on Wednesday afternoon.
Looking Ahead To The Weekend – Part 1
It's Betfair Chase Day at Haydock. It’s a small field of five runners for the Grade 1 contest (3.00). Although one of the five Frodon seems unlikely to run. Last year’s winner and subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero A Plus Tard will be a hot favourite to retain his crown. The home challenge is headed by Protektorat heads the British challenger along with the 11-year-old Bristol De Mai who seeks a fourth win in the race.
Arguably the most competitive race on the Haydock card will be the valuable Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) (2:25). The race could see the return over hurdles of Run For Oscar for the first time since his win in the Cesarewitch.
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Ascot will be hoping the forecast rain arrives this week. It was good, good to firm in places there on Monday. It looks like it has come. On Tuesday afternoon the going had changed to good to soft, good in places. Plenty of jumping stars are set to make their seasonal reappearances at the Berkshire track. No more so than Constitution Hill in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle (2.40). Other big names due to return are Cheltenham Festival winner’s L'Homme Presse, in the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase (2.05) and Edwardstone, in the Jim Barry Wines Hurst Park Handicap Chase (3:15).
ITV will be covering the best of the action from Haydock & Ascot as part of a seven race programme on Saturday afternoon.
I’m leaving out the trends for the races I’m previewing this week as I don’t think they will be of much use.
Betfair Chase – Haydock
A Plus Tard‘s impressive success in last year’s race showed us that he was a high class chaser who would go on to Cheltenham success later in the season. He’s going to take the world of beating again. Especially with the Henry De Bromhead yard now hitting top gear. Its not a one horse race though.
Protektorat remains unexposed at around 3m. He was likely over the top when disappointing favourite in the Betway Bowl at Aintree in April. Prior to Aintree he was in the process of running a big race when making a mistake at the last in the Gold Cup. He wouldn’t have beaten A Plus Tard that day but might well have finished second rather than third. We probably haven’t seen the best of the 7-year-old over fences just yet and he could win this if the favourite does need the run.
He’s now longer the horse that dominated this race a few seasons back, but Bristol De Mai must be respected if the ground goes soft or indeed heavy.
Let’s hope the rain doesn’t bypass Ascot. If it doesn’t Saturday’s Grade 2 Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase (2:05) should see the return of L'Homme Presse. He won over C&D last December and goes well fresh so a big run can be expected on his seasonal return. If he’s ready to roll then he should win. If he’s not, then the likes of Dashel Drasher who won over hurdles two weeks ago, could take advantage.
I’m not sure Hitman will take his place in the line-up but if he did, he would have a decent chance. He’s another with a benefit of a recent run and like Dashel Drasher would be getting 3lb from the favourite. Trainer Paul Nicholls has saddled the winner four times since 2013 so any runner he has in the race merits serious consideration. Hitman also has an entry at Haydock for an easier race and given Harry Cobden has been jocked he seems likely to head there.
I’m not delving into the trends for the race but 12 of the last 14 winners of the race were returned 4/1 or shorter. Those 9/2 & bigger are 2 winners from 44 runners 8 placed.
Nicky Henderson trained Oscar Whisky (2012) and Buzz last year to win the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle and will hopefully ground permitting run Constitutional Hill in Saturday’s race. It should be a bit of procession for the Supreme Novices Hurdle winner and Champion Hurdle favourite. However. It will be good to see the 5-year-old and potential superstar back on the racecourse.
The headline race of Wednesday is a Class 3 novice chase at Warwick (2:45). It’s a potential cracker too with Grade 1 Hurdle winners Jonbon and Monmiral making their debuts over fences. West Cork who was runner-up on his chase debut at the track completes a three runner field.
The heavy rain has arrived in time with Warwick reporting the track as good to soft, soft in places on Tuesday evening.
Also on the Warwick card is leg 10 of the Veterans' Chase Series (3:15). The race has a attracted a decent line-up.
3:15 – Racing TV Veterans' Handicap Chase (Leg 10 Of The Veterans' Chase Series) – 3m
Former Grade 1 winning chaser Lostintranslation is due to carry top-weight of 12-00 on his seasonal reappearance. A winner of the Grade 2 Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase on his seasonal return. He’s got a touch of class. Provided the ground doesn’t get to soft is the one to beat on his first foray into veterans company.
Also in the line-up is smart handicap chaser Snow Leopardess. She was was pulled up in the Grand National and also makes her debut in veterans company. The mare is being aimed at the Becher Chase, a race she won last year and although she maybe better for the run she did win first time up last season.
De Rasher Counter who won the 2019 Ladbroke Trophy is also among twelve declarations. He’s making his debut in veterans company and there was a bit of an encouragement to be taken from his Kelso return.
Venetia Williams has yet to have a winner this autumn. However, I wouldn’t be quick to rule out her runner Cepage. He’s been lightly raced since winning at Chepstow in January 2021, from 4lb higher. It’s hard to know what ability he retains but he’s gone well off a lay off in the past.
The rain has arrived in time for Ramses De Teillee. He’s not the most consistent of horses. However. he’s dropped down a handy mark and the David Pipe yard is among the winners.
Celebre D'Allen won his first two starts over hurdles after joining the Philip Hobbs last season. He then followed up over fences here (2m 4f) in January, from 5lb lower. He stayed 2m 6f when trained in France. If his stamina for 3m holds he’s a big player.
I’m likely to have a couple in the veterans chase so can’t really use that race for today’s nap. Instead, I’m off to Hexham.
3:23 – Fringill Dike made it 4-4 at Hexham when winning a novice hurdle in September. Granted he was a well beaten favourite at Carlisle on his handicap hurdle debut last month. However, slightly better ground and return to this venue could see the 5-year-old show us that his mark is winnable one.
Fringill Dike – 4/1 @ Coral.
Good luck with your Wednesday bets.