A handicap chase that looks mightily competitive is what we have in store to kick off six live races from ITV today. The first selection has mixed hurdles and chases over the past year with varied success but with just four chase attempts under his belt he seems to be gelling well over bigger obstacles. Theo’s Charm has bagged three top three finishes in his four chase starts to date and at the age of seven looks to be progressing well. A very encouraging run over hurdles last time out was a display that lead viewers to believe he may have a touch of class and if he can carry his recent form on from his hurdles prowess he’s bound to have a great chance. Course and distance and likely favourite Poker School will also be up near the front come the finishing line.
THEO'S CHARM (E/W)
The Bowen brothers can do no wrong at the moment and it looks likely they’ll have another winning ride again as James jumps aboard the Christian Williams trained course and distance winner Limited Reserve. An eight pound rise in weights won’t help but less slightly less competitive race should account for that. Despite being one of the lesser fancied quintet it’s Blue Hussar that can finish best of the rest.
LIMITED RESERVE (WIN)
The showpiece race this afternoon is the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle that’s been renamed after former multiple winner Reve De Sivola. The big question that needs to be asked by anyone having a bet on this race is wether or not the old guard can be overthrown by two promising youngsters. We all know what Unowhatimeanharry, L’Ami Serge and Lil Rockerfeller can do on their day but are Thomas Campbell and Sam Spinner capable of posing a serious threat? The two aforementioned five year olds have certainly showed a surge in form and are much better horses than they were last year. They can certainly progress up to this level but wether or not they have enough to dethrone the favourite seems unlikely. Unowhatimeanharry has by far the best form on offer and despite finishing second behind Beer Goggles can get back to winning ways. If class can rise to the top Unowhatimeanharry should take all the beating.
According to the betting it may just be a two horse affair as Full Irish and Three Faces West tussle for favouritism and in all honesty I can’t see past the duo. I side slightly with the Phillip Hobbs runner who’s been victorious at this venue previously. Victories on under foot conditions shows he’ll handle conditions and with the Champion Jockey in the saddle makes him a likely victor.
THRE FACES WEST (WIN) - NAP
Regal Encore looks a decent bet in the penultimate race at Ascot. Whenever he’s finished a race here at Ascot he’s always won. With conditions to suit and Barry Geraghty in the saddle expect him to improve on his third placed effort in his last run. The lightly raced and very consistent Gold Present should be the one to push our selection most.
REGAL ENCORE (E/W)
Charli Parcs came second in a very competitive hurdle last time out and looks to progress here. There’s likely that the Nicky Henderson trained runner will improve on his seasonal reappearance but this looks a much more competitive contest. A likely player but not one I could back with seventeen runners set to line up. With this larger field I’ve unearthed two runners that seem worth backing each way. The first one hails from the yard of Yorkshire based trainer Brian Ellison. Four year old Nietzsche finished sixth of thirteen in a decent race at Cheltenham and with fitness now on his side can improve on that effort. A winner over today’s trip he’s only ever finished unplaced on one occasion from eight hurdles starts and a decent run is on the cards. The other horse on our radar has the huge positive of having promising top jockey Jack Kennedy in the saddle. Hunters Call hasn’t claimed victory in over two years but a change of trainer to Olly Murphy may spring about improvement. The seven year old doesn’t have much weight to burden and could potentially surprise a few of the main protagonists. The likes of course and distance winners Elgin and Verdana Blue pose obvious threats as does Divin Bere who makes his long awaited return to action.
NIETZSCHE (E/W) HUNTERS CALL (E/W)
written by Rory Paddock
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