The first of eight televised races sees us visit Haydock for a Class 2 Handicap Hurdle over three miles. Both David Pipe runners have previous form on ground with a bit of give, with Serienschock having won twice on soft ground and Alternatif having finished a close second on good to soft ground. Tom Scudamore keeps the ride on Alternatif which would suggest he is the more fancied of the two but with ten runners scheduled at the current prices my preference would be for Serienschock who has a 60% strike rate for top three finishes.
Edeymi was backed as if defeat was out of the question at Cheltenham in March but disappointed his supporters when finishing way down the field. He ran much better over fences at Fairyhouse last month but was still beaten by almost four lengths and has now attempted todays’ trip three times without success.
My selection for this race is The Govaness who arrives here in great form having won her last two races in impressive fashion. She steps up in trip for todays’ race and has gone up 13lbs for her last win but has won on soft ground and looked to have more in the tank if needed when last seen at Cheltenham last month.
The Govaness (E/W if 5/1+)
The first race at Ascot is a highly competitive affair with many of the scheduled runners already multiple winners over todays’ trip. The early favourite is Penhill who makes his debut for Luca Cumani. He notched up a double over twelve furlongs last July but struggled when upped in to class two company and finished the season with three mediocre displays. Back down in class today he is of interest but at the current prices I am happy to look elsewhere.
New Years Night was beaten by Noble Gift last time out but runs off the same mark here, while Noble Gift has been raised 3lbs. They both appear to be closely matched but of the two preference would be for Noble Gift as he is a proven winner on turf and has won on heavy ground so any more rain shouldn’t be an inconvenience.
A big danger looks to be King Calypso. He is yet to win in ten attempts on turf but has a 50% strike rate for placed finishes and has an impressive record of four wins from five on the all-weather. He ran a great race in third on his seasonal re-appearance last month and should improve for that run.
Noble Gift (E/W)
King Calypso (E/W)
We head over to Lingfield for our third race of the TV tips to take in the Oaks Trial Stakes. I am loathe to select an odds on shot, especially one who is yet to win a race, however Wedding Vow really should win this race based on her two placed efforts last month. She finished second to Legatissimo at Gowran Park who has since gone on to win the 1000 Guineas last weekend so the form looks rock solid.
Toujours L’Amour won on debut and was only three lengths back when fifth in a listed race at Newmarket when last seen. On paper she looks the most likely to give the favourite a run for her money but having been off the track for six months she could just need the run today.
Of the remainder, Affileo and Mercy Me both look exciting prospects and are both stepping up in grade looking for their respective hat-tricks of wins, with preference for Affileo.
Wedding Vow (WIN)
Our second race at Ascot sees seven scheduled to go to post and the Godolphin owned Winter Thunder likely to head the market. The early favourite boasts an impressive record on turf with three wins from four including one over todays’ race distance and showed a determined attitude to beat Fire Fighting at Newmarket last October. Judging by his race entries later in the year connections think very highly of this New Approach Colt and providing he is race fit he should be strong enough to win here.
Rawaki comes next in the market and has a 47% strike rate for top three finishes, although has only managed one win in fourteen over twelve furlongs and has ran here at Ascot three times without success.
Of the remainder, Fractal caught the eye last year, finishing with a hat-trick of wins and boasting a 100% win record over todays’ trip. He takes a big step up in grade for this but based on his form last season must be considered with natural progression expected.
Winter Thunder (WIN)
We return to Lingfield for the Derby Trial Stakes and see another hot favourite looking to boost their claims of winning a classic. Christophermarlowe has improved with each of his three career runs and it would be a huge surprise if he were to lose here, however with odds approaching 4/7 he is not a realistic betting prospect so I will opt for each way value by way of Kilimanjaro.
My selection is the only previous winner over eleven furlongs and will be race fit having won at Dundalk last month. He has the benefit of Ryan Moore in the saddle for todays’ race who is currently in a rich vein of form having won both the 2000 and 1000 Guineas last weekend.
Solar Magic looks likely to head the market for this Class Two Fillies Handicap over a mile. She should arrive here ready to go after a close second on her seasonal re-appearance at Kempton last month and has previously won over course and distance so has to be respected.
Temptress disappointed on her last run (October 2014) but is another proven over course and distance. Both wins came on good to soft or soft ground so any further rain may help her cause, although preference is for the now David O’Meara trained Amazing Maria.
My selection didn’t figure in all three runs last season so it is a bit of a leap of faith to back her today but she ran better than the bare results suggest and based on her impressive win in Group 3 company 2013 she could take all the beating here.
Amazing Maria (E/W if 5/1+)
The penultimate race on Channel 4 looks an extremely tough nut to crack. Last years’ winner Ballyglasheen returns to defend his crown and despite disappointing since that win he has now returned to last years’ mark and with three wins from seven over two miles, coupled with winning form on soft ground, he has to go on the shortlist.
Cheltanian is another with a solid record over two miles, having won on the flat and twice over hurdles over this trip. He has a 7lbs rise to contend with for his latest win but with a strike rate in excess of 50% for top three finishes he should be thereabouts today.
Last Supper steps up in grade but has solid each way claims having won two from four over hurdles, one on good to soft ground, and was a six length winner on the all-weather over eleven furlongs earlier this year.
Azral is the final horse on the shortlist and arrives here after impressing at Chepstow last month, winning by six lengths and beating two previous winners in to second and third respectively. He has previously won on both good and soft ground so a swing either way with the weather shouldn’t prove to be any inconvenience.
Last Supper (E/W)
The final race of the day sees twenty nine scheduled to go to post for the Victoria Handicap. Dream Spirit is one of five or six all vying for the position at the head of the market and with a 50% career win rate he must enter calculations. He beat Maverick Wave in August last year, a horse who earlier this week won a Group 3 race at Chester, so obviously has some talent.
Speculative Bid beat the re-opposing Outback traveller last time out and arrives looking to complete a hat-trick of wins over seven furlongs. He is another close to the head of the market but has only managed one win from five on turf and this was on heavy ground and his attempts on better ground have been less than inspiring.
The afore-mentioned Outback Traveller is a course and distance winner and has won three from eight over seven furlongs. Jimmy Fortune takes over in the saddle today and has a 27% win rate when riding for Jeremy Noseda.
At a bigger price Lincoln also has to be respected. He is by no means a prolific winner (3 wins from 22) but all three wins came over seven furlongs on ground ranging from good to soft and with two wins and five placed efforts from ten over the last twelve months he could sneak a place from a favourable draw.
Outback Traveller (E/W)