A very competitive race to begin todays’ Weekender with the top four in the market currently split by odds between just 4/1 and 6/1. Despite this the eye is immediately drawn to the eleven year old De Boitron who was second in this race last year and returns for another crack off a 10lbs lower mark today. You have to go back almost two years to find his last win but has a strike rate of 45% for top three finishes over today’s trip and ran well enough on his seasonal re-appearance at Aintree earlier this month to suggest he is still capable of getting involved at the very least.
Beau Lake will be at home in the conditions and has won four times over similar distances to today on soft or heavy ground. He is passed over today as he returns from an eleven month break off a 7lbs higher mark and has never won on re-appearance previously.
Current favourite Baby King won over todays’ trip on soft-to-heavy ground on his racecourse debut but has raced five times since and has been pulled up, fallen and only managed to make the frame on one other occasion so doesn’t look the most reliable.
At a slightly bigger price Quick Decisson is another who will be at home with forecast conditions and has a win strike rate of 38% over todays’ trip and should be race fit after a recent placed effort over fences so cannot be discounted.
De Boitron (E/W if 9/2+)
Early favourite Red Hanrahan was in the process of running a big race when falling three from home on his hurdling debut at Wetherby last month but should benefit from that experience and looks the one to beat if he can hold his jumping together.
The main danger looks to come by way of the Harry Fry trained American who will be looking to continue his trainers excellent form here at Ascot. With four winners and five placed efforts from ten it is difficult to argue with the course form however in the last two weeks he has only saddled one winner from thirteen over hurdles which dampens enthusiasm somewhat.
Label Des Obeaux is another to consider having placed in his last two races including a 25/1 third in Listed company when last seen. Today sees him turn out for a new trainer and over a longer trip than previously attempted which is enough to make me rate the previously mentioned rivals as having better chances but he could be the biggest beneficiary should these fail to fire.
Red Hanrahan (WIN)
Abricot De L’oasis is the current market leader but has been raised 10lbs for a half length victory at Aintree last month. It is possible that he is open to further improvement given that this was his first run in five months but with only one win in eight over hurdles and all career wins over twenty furlongs or more, he cannot be backed with too much confidence dropping back in trip today.
Instead, preference is for the Gary Moore trained Flute Bowl who is a previous winner over todays’ trip and was an impressive fifteen length winner on soft ground at Fontwell when last seen. She has also been raised 9lbs accordingly but the majority of this is offset by jockey Hayley Moore’s 7lbs claim.
Of the remainder, at a slightly larger price Memory Cloth is an interesting contender on his first run over hurdles in almost two years, while Gin And Tonic has won two of his last three although both wins came on good ground and todays’ race sees a step up in grade.
Flute Bowl (WIN)