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13:50 Ascot Arpege D’Alene sets the standard in what is a tightly knit Grade two event. He has recorded two previous wins at the track and that will stand him in good stead here. The grey gelding has done nothing wrong in any of his starts so far this year going down only narrowly in his last two races at Cheltenham. Soft ground appears key to his chances and if he is to be taken as a genuine four miler contender at the Cheltenham Festival next month, he will need to take this in fine style. Paul Nicholls has his yard in great form and the seven year old ought to prove difficult to beat. Label Des Obeaux has improved with each start so far this year and finally got his head in front at Ludlow last time when justifying odds on favouritism. The Alan King yard have been in excellent form of late and with Wayne Hutchinson on board, the duo are likely to try and make the most of the weight that they receive all around this afternoon. This is a huge step up in class so further improvement is needed and they look a credible threat. Bigbadjohn was looking beaten when slipping and falling at Doncaster last time. He had looked progressive prior to that. The yard are also struggling to get a winner so he is bypassed on that basis. Arpege D’Alene (WIN)

14:05 Haydock Agrapart showed a return to his best form when taking the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day under Lizzie Kelly. He is still relatively lightly raced compared to most of these and despite conceding weight all around, there should be plenty more improvement to come. The softer the going, the better are his chances and it’s worth remembering that he landed the Betfred Hurdle around this time last year. Whilst the form might not add up to much overall, most of his rivals have been bitterly disappointing so far this term. In what looks a competitive renewal he can go in again. Desert Cry has been in great form this year winning his last two races with the minimum of fuss. Whilst the conditions most certainly will suit, he is now eleven years old and facing much tougher opposition today. He will likely try and dictate the pace but if the others gift him an easy lead, he will prove difficult to peg back. Aux Ptits Soins was beaten forty lengths and finished last of four last time out at Doncaster. It would take a monumental leap of faith to see him win this just three weeks later. Agrapart (WIN)

14:25 Ascot Chef D’oeuvre can make the most of weight he receives all around here as the improving six year old ought to relish the testing conditions. A thirty length winner at Hereford last time means that connections think he is a lot better than the company he was keeping that day and have opted to step him up in grade. His rivals this afternoon are struggling to find their true level of form so far this year, so it could prove to be a shrewd move by Warren Greatrex. Sausalito Sunrise is a class act on his day and finds himself carrying topweight here this afternoon. Having won this last year he is seeking to retain his crown and if recapturing his best form, he would certainly be the biggest threat to the selection. Richard Johnson will be hoping to stay in the saddle for a bit longer this time around and if doing so the pair command the utmost of respect. Go Conquer has a clear liking for flat tracks and should be capable of better. He was still travelling smoothly when falling the last time he was here but his good second at Kempton subsequently means that he has clearly gotten over that and he will be vying four at least a place under Aiden Coleman. Chef D’oeuvre (WIN)

14:45 Wincanton Yanworth will be all the rage here given that he is so prominent in the betting for the Champion Hurdle. Alan King’s stable star has won eight of his eleven starts under varying conditions and yet again has the assistance of Barry Geraghty in the saddle. This two mile trip clearly suits well and if he is to have any sort of chance at the Festival next month, he will need to put daylight between himself and some fairly exposed sorts here. Given that conditions are likely to prove testing, Rayvin Black is likely to play a pivotal role from the outset. He loves wearing his heart on his sleeve ensuring that there will be a true test of stamina and pace. He was far from disgraced when picked up late by Buveur D’Air at Sandown last time and he looks each way value here. Irving has proved a major disappointment since winning on his seasonal reappearance. The Fall he took at Haydock in January is clearly playing on his mind. Ch’tibello and Sceaux Royale have been beaten in lesser company this year and offer little in the way of value. Yanworth (WIN)

15:00 Ascot Ordo Ab Chao could well prove the answer in what looks a cracking renewal of this handicap hurdle. It is worth remembering that whilst he has been off the track for over a year and a half, he was certainly capable of going well fresh especially on soft ground when last seen. Alan King must be confident of a big run to throw him in at the deep end on what is his first start in almost seven hundred days. Wayne Hutchinson has won on him before and in a field of unreliable types, he may well prove to be worth the risk. Air Horse One has turned over a new leaf of late winning his last two starts for Harry Fry and Noel Fehily. He has stamina in abundance but now has to content with a career high mark. He is still only a six year old and it would be foolish to dismiss his claims given his rich vein of form and he looks a massive danger here. Doesyourdogbite had looked progressive prior to his run at Kempton last time. A step back in trip may prove the answer and he too will be playing for place money if he can reverse form with Templeross. The latter returned to somewhere near his best last time but may struggle to cope with the drop back in trip. Ordo Ab Chao (E/W if 9/2+)

15:15 Haydock Cresswell Breeze looks more than capable of getting involved in this stamina sapping Grade three contest described as a Grand National trial. She was a decent runner up to Desert Queen in a listed race at Leicester last month and receives weight all around this afternoon. Her best form has come with plenty of juice in the ground and when the rain falls at this track, it can turn into somewhat of a quagmire. David Noonan has won on her twice before and if putting in her best here, she warrants close consideration. Goodtoknow returned to winning ways at Hereford last time for Kerry Lee and Jake Greenall. The yard have developed a knack in winning these types of races in recent months so it is of little surprise to see him line up here. Clearly on good terms with himself and proven at the trip, he looks a big threat to all this afternoon. Tour Des Champs pulled off a massive shock when winning at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day at 50/1. He will find life tougher here on ground that might prove tacky enough for him. Blaklion has won here before and is the class act in the race. He will not find it easy giving weight away all around and how he copes with this extra half mile remains to be seen. Cresswell Breeze (E/W if 9/2+) Goodtoknow (E/W if 9/2+)

15:35 Ascot Cue Card sets the standard here and his likely short odds make him an impossible betting proposition. With that in mind if having a bet the best angle looks to be each way. Taquin De Seuil won the BetVictor Gold Cup at Haydock two starts ago on testing ground. He was also far from disgraced when finishing fifth to Outlander in the Lexus Chase at Punchestown back in December. If there was to be a chink in the armour of the odds on favourite he will be sure to exploit it. With stamina guaranteed he looks the best of the rest and can go close here. Taquin De Seuil (E/W if 9/2+)


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