Handicap heaven! Chester, Haydock and Ascot.

Tuesday 5.30pm

Time to have an Ante Post play. Would like to suggest play the Chester Cup as singles and then on Thursday lunchtime when we’ve got Saturdays final dec’s maybe a double or two!?!

Wednesday 3.35 Chester Cup

The Chester Cup is always a fun puzzle to solve. All sorts of ways to win the race but I like a single figure draw, proven stamina, laid out for race, in form horse, jockey and trainer. Three fit the bill for me.

Blakeney Point who will be popular with the “trends” boys, prominently ridden course winning 4yo drawn 1 who won last time out, and it’s hard to oppose Roger Charlton and 3lb claimer Keiron Shoemark in their current form.

Montaly for Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy who’s second at Newbury when trying to give 12lbs to Sweet Selection over this trip on Good to Firm ground last July looks a strong piece of form. As a hold up horse in stall 2 Murphy will need to think in the saddle to get a run but following Blakeney Point to the home turn sounds a simple plan.

However the simplesimonsays pin has fallen on Who Dares Wins. Drawn in stall 7, he’s won on the Roodeye before, fit from a jumping campaign where he improved 9lbs last season, I think connections Alan King and Henry Ponsonby have had this race as an end plan for a while. The Swinton Hurdle at Haydock would have been a viable alternative. As long as Chester kicks off with the Good ground promised with a good covering of grass and Who Dares Wins ridden by a hungry Tom Marquand must go close.

Who Dares Win two star** win                7/1 WH+Coral

Montaly one star* win                                 16/1 WH+Betfred

Blakeney Point one star* win                    7/1 WH+Betfred

You might want to wait for tomorrow morning to get the best prices and terms. On line SkyBet are 123456 1/5 if you are thinking each way!!

 

Saturday 3.10 Swinton Hurdle Haydock

This C2 2m handicap hurdle is the first big prize of the new NH season and will be run on Good ground, unless those thunderstorms hit on Friday, on one of the UK’s sharpest tracks.

The trends say we are looking for a 5yo-7yo, an Official Rating between 126-135 inclusive, under 11st 6lbs, that’s run in the last 50 days, fewer than eight handicaps, form in the Imperial Cup or Scottish County hurdle or a Festival and beware of anything Philip Hobbs or Ewan Williams saddle. Any horse with 11st 7lbs or more has a dreadful record in this race. Two leap out at me.

London Prize won the Imperial Cup and still gets in here off OR135, Tom O’Brien is already jocked up, was second at Haydock on the flat and last time was beaten just over four lengths in seventh in the Scottish Champion hurdle. Has to be a player.

Traditional Dancer for Ian Jardine further down the weights and at a much bigger price also appeals. He was a solid third in the Scottish County hurdle and will certainly be staying on and I think this sharp track off a quick pace will suit him.

London Prize two star**win                                       12/1 PP+WH

Traditional Dancer one star* each way                  33/1 PP+WH 1234 ¼

 

Saturday 4.00 Victoria Cup Ascot

By far the best handicap of the weekend but comes fraught with danger at this stage as running plans are far from sorted. We’ll have a stab anyway.

I’m ignoring the draw, I’m going with good to Firm ground and I’m assuming a solid pace. This is an obvious stepping stone to the Hunt Cup at the Royal meeting in a month’s time.

The stats say (as of 2016)

Official Rating no greater than 96: 9/10 Carried no more than 9.01: 9/10 Aged either 4 or 5 years old: 8/10

Previous win over 7 furlongs: 8/10 Ran earlier during the Season: 8/10 Recorded a top 5 finish last time out: 8/10

So the first selection is George William. Richard Hannons 4yo son of Paco Boy was a huge eye-catcher last time out when getting going too late over a mile behind Banksea at Newbury, finishing fifth but less than a length off the winner. He had won his two previous races over 8F+ at Nottingham and 7F at Chelmsford and I think this improver who ticks many of those trends boxes will be ideally suited by Ascot’s stiff 7F.

For our second selection we are going to throw the trends out of the window and we are going completely left field. In the last three running’s of this race the same jockey has finished 5th 20/1, 1st 10/1 and 3rd 10/1 all for different trainers and in my opinion no one rides the straight 7F and 8F course no better than him. Take a deep breath, it is of course Jamie Spencer, Mr Marmite of the weighing room! This year he is currently down to ride Ride Like The Wind for Kevin Ryan. Originally with Freddie Head in France he cost the current owners €75K who have had the 5yo son of Lope de Vega gelded. He’s had two runs for the current yard over 5F on the sand at Lingfield and then in a hood over 6F in the Cammidge trophy that opened the current Flat season when he didn’t clearest of runs. He was sprinting on soft ground all last season but if you go back to his 3yo days he was 3rd in a G3 on Good ground at Longchamp when the RP analysis says “Held up towards rear, unable to quicken instantly 2f out, finished strongly final furlong, just failed to get 2nd”. This horse could be made for young James. At the price I will try our luck and the horse goes in the tracker for sure!

George William one star*win                                    16/1 PP 12/1 general

Ride Like The Wind one star* each way                25/1 BetFred+WH 1234 ¼

 

The Victoria Cup comes with a major rider. I really want to put up Taurean Star who has the ascot form and his recent win at Yarmouth would have put him spot on for this but the miserly handicapper has only put him up two pounds from OR89 to OR91 and I don’t think he’ll get in. If he does and we’ll know Thursday about 11am he has to be my two star** each selection (16/1 PP+BetFred 1234 ¼) and I fully expect that Michael Bell’s 4yo charge will be ridden by no less than one James Spencer! Check out the video replays of his previous Ascot runs.

Taurean Star has another entry on Saturday at Lingfield on the AW. I couldn’t recommend the horse there as the straight is too short and Spencer won’t be on board!

 

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