Good morning all,
It’s part 2 of my look ahead to the weekend’s big race action. Yesterday I looked at three Wetherby races. Inside today’s main piece I’m focusing on what looks an attractive Ascot card. Especially if you like competitive handicaps. Plus, I have a few that interest me today with my main selection running at Newton Abbot, if that course passes an early morning inspection.
ITV are covering four races from Ascot all of them handicaps and I have had a look at the final two.
Sodexo Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race) (GBB Race) (Class 1) – 1m 7 ½ f
Recent Wetherby winner Anemoi heads the ante post betting. The 6-year-old returned from a 550-day break and a wind-op to win. Has gone well off a break before so a 17-day lay off may not be a positive.
Countister hasn't had much racing since finishing third in the 2018 County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Probably on a competitive mark and is lightly raced for her age but she needed the run on her seasonal return last season.
Kid Commando a useful bumper horse who won his hurdle debut at Plumpton (soft) and then finished 3rd of 9 in the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices Hurdle at Kempton. Handicap hurdle debut and open to further improvement. Won first time up last autumn so fitness shouldn’t be a problem. Big player for a yard among the winners.
Course and distance winner Malaya has run some of her best races at Ascot. Goes well on soft and is just 2lb off her last winning mark. Capable of going close if ready to roll.
Sebastopol made it 2-5 over hurdles when winning a Class 2 handicap hurdle at Musselburgh 273-days ago. Both wins going right-handed and it looks like there could be more progress to come from the 6-year-old this season. Won on his seasonal return last season so fitness shouldn’t be an issue.
Song For Someone won two of his four starts last season, including a Grade 2 at Kempton back in February. Had shown previously that he goes well here at Ascot when a battling second to Thomas Derby in a handicap hurdle over 2m 3 ½ f. May need a stronger stamina test but the 5-year-old should go well.
Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) – 3m
Cyrname heads the market and will carry top-weight of 11-12 if comes here rather than heads for the Charlie Hall. His best performances have come here. As we saw with Frodon last week trainer Paul Nicholls can get a top-weight to win one of these handicap chases. Still to prove he stays 3m.
Vinndication won this last year on his seasonal reappearance off 10lb lower. Wasn’t seen out until the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Festival. He put in a great weight carrying performance at Cheltenham, off 11-12, when 4th of 23 to The Conditional. Just six starts over fences and capable of better. Trainer Kim Bailey could run Cheltenham Festival winner Imperial Aura who would also be a contender.
Two interesting and unexposed contenders.
Commanche Red beat Simply The Betts in a novices handicap chase at Kempton over Christmas. Before returning to that venue to finish third in the Grade 2 Pendil Novices Chase. Yet to race beyond 2m 4 ½ f so stamina for a strongly run 3m is a bit of an unknown. Yard having a quiet autumn.
Whatmore is 1-6 over fences and finished fourth in valuable handicap chases at Kempton and the Cheltenham Festival. Just the two starts over 3m but shaped at Kempton like a stiff 3m would suit provided the ground isn’t too soft. Looks a big handicap chase winner in the waiting.
The course and distance specialists.
Regal Encore rarely runs a bad race here but will be 5lb out of the handicap should Cyrname take his chance.
Militarian is just 1lb higher than when winning over C&D last November. He needs respecting but this is a much hotter race for his seasonal return and would be 11lb out of the weights if Cyrname runs.
Valtor won a valuable C&D handicap chase on his first start for Nicky Henderson back in December 2018, off 2lb lower, and won a novice hurdle here on his seasonal return last season. Showed his liking for the track once more when second to Ballyoptic over C&D in February.
Plenty to look forward to and if you want my final weekend selections. You can get them here.
A good midweek card at Lingfield with two listed races and a Class 2 handicap the highlights of an eight-race card. There’s also all-weather racing at Southwell and Chelmsford in the evening and jumping action at Newton Abbot and Stratford, although the former does have to pass a 7am inspection to see if racing can go ahead. Over the Irish Sea there’s a seven-race card at Clonmel.
I have a few that interest me today.
2:06 – Aintree My Dream is on a bit of a losing run but the former C&D winner ran Imperial Presence to a neck at Fontwell on his seasonal return 27-days ago and could well have won but for a mistake at the last. Nudged up 3lb makes life tougher but trainer and jockey combined for a winner at Aintree on Sunday. At around 5/1 he looks solid each way value. Should Newton Abbot fail to race he would be today's main selection.
2:15 – Hamdan Al Maktoum has two runners here in favourite Ghalyoon and Huraiz and the former is the choice of retained jockey Jim Crowley. However, I like the claims of Huraiz who hasn’t been seen since proving his stamina for 7f when runner-up at Chelmsford 134-days ago. The 3-year-old did win on his racecourse debut, so can go well fresh.
2:45 – Cloak Of Sprits makes her all-weather debut and will take some beating if reproducing the form of her 1000 Guineas second and Sun Chariot third.
Soffika hasn’t been seen since finishing 7th of 15 in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot. Just the three career starts and we probably haven't seen the best of the Sir Michael Stoute trained filly.
Lavender’s Blue is another making her all weather debut. She won a Sandown Group 3 last season on good to firm and went close in Listed race back at the same venue in August. It was a mostly disappointing summer for the 4-year-old who never got to race on fast ground. If she takes to the surface will go close.
3:28 – Previous course (hurdles) winner Momella has just had the two starts over fences but shaped with encouragement when 2nd of 6 at Huntingdon last November. Nicely handicapped on her smart novice hurdle form in 2017-18 season and will enjoy underfoot conditions.
At the prices I just prefer the Venetia Williams trained Eceparti. The 6-year-old won his first two starts over fences last season on soft ground. Showed he could be competitive off his present mark when beaten just a head at Fakenham in January. Yard has had two winners in the last few days and I strongly fancy Eceparti to be another on ground that will suit.
Eceparti – 5/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes.
Good luck with your Thursday bets.