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13:50 Ascot

Returning from a whopping 606 day absence Knight In Dubai produced a solid enough performance when fifth last time out. I’m hoping we’re going to see a massive improvement now with a run under his belt and with the cobwebs well and truly dusted off. The yard of Dan Skelton are going well of late so the stable form is also a positive as is the softer ground. It’s a super competitive race so it’s hard to be overly confident in anything here but if Skelton has him fighting fit then I’m expecting a much improved performance this time around.

Of the remainder the likes of former course winner Diego Du Charmil would be one to have on any shortlist as would current favourite Palmers Hill who produced a very encouraging display when winning on return at Wetherby last time out.


written by Rory Paddock


14:05 Haydock A few horses in this field come into the race fairly unexposed and that statement certainly applies to the likely favourite Mackelduff. He is open to improvement but his bare form isn’t anything to suggest he’s well handicapped and I’d take him on in this contest. Stellar Magic is another lightly-raced type who lost his unbeaten start to his career last time out but he did injure his knee in that contest and based on his previous runs, 133 could be a very handy mark. Up For Parol is back hurdling after a disappointing chase debut last time out and again would have to improve to win off his current mark although it is possible that he will better himself at some point. I am taking Stellar Magic to show his class in this field and resume his winning ways.


written by Tom Bates


14:25 Ascot

Grade one action for staying hurdlers in this three mile Long Walk Hurdle.

This race is a high quality race in its own right, but will also give clues to the staying championship at the festival in March.

There is a notable absentee however and it’s sad to report that the likely favourite and a real contender for the stayers crown Buzz is now a non runner. He sadly a sustained what is thought to be a pelvic injury on pulling up after his final prep canter.

Of course that detracts from this event, but this is still a classy field. Thyme Hill, now likely to head the market, is an obvious candidate. He was forced to miss Cheltenham last year, but made amends at Aintree with a gutsy display.

His seasonal reappearance in France was desperately disappointing on face value, but it was on very deep ground so he does have an excuse. However he is a bit of a nearly horse at present and at the prices there could be better value in the lineup.

Ronald Pump is consistent and likeable type and he also has arguably the best form in this race, despite it being over a shorter trip. He has followed home Honeysuckle on a couple of occasions, notably last time when sporting blinkers for the first time (retained) and sticking to his task well. The trip is fine for him and the blinkers are not indicative of

questionable resolution. Whatever finishes in front of him will likely be the winner.

Champ is a classy individual, but he needs to start his season somewhere and this maybe a stepping stone.

Thomas Darby finally got his act together last time, but will he reproduce that?

The selection is going to be Paisley Park each way to roll back the years.

It’s reasonable to suggest this nine year old might be sliding into the regressive category, but there are reasons to believe back at the scene of last season’s victory, he may just rekindle that spark.

He got up to beat Thyme Hill in a stirring finish, and there’s clearly not a lot between them apart from their respective prices!

The cheek pieces have been dispensed with and a tongue tie applied, which may or may not help. There’s no doubt the old boy could be overpriced on the day.


written by Matt Polley


14:40 Haydock

Vintage Clouds is a consistent performer who has a nice record around Haydock. He’s been successful over course and distance twice. He’s won on heavy ground a few times and the distance shouldn’t be a problem. However, he has 11 stone and 12 lbs today, which is a big ask. Moreover, he was well beaten last year, on heavy ground, with the same weight. Again, this seems like a big ask.

Remastered probably would’ve won the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, when falling heavily four fences out. Tom Scudamore takes the ride today and David Pipe has won this race before. He’s won on heavy ground before and has been suited by the tongue-strap. That being said, he has joint top weight today, which isn’t beneficial. That being said, he’ll be a big player.

Buzz De Turcoing is an unexposed sort who ran to a rating of 138, which puts him ahead of his official mark. He’s won at Haydock before and probably should’ve won by more at Ayr, last time out. He has a nice weight and looks to be in nice form. Moreover, if you go back far enough, he has point-to-point form with the mighty Shishkin. He could prove good value.

BUZZ DE TURCOING (WIN) written by Kieran McHugh


15:00 Ascot

A typically competitive Saturday afternoon Listed handicap chase, with four of the last five victors returning at odds ranging from 16/1 to 33/1 and featuring two prior winners of the race.

The early favourite is the Venetia Williams runner Belami Des Pictons whose career has been hampered by injury but as a result is lightly raced for his age and is entitled to come on for his fourth at Bangor in November, his first run since February 2020.

Next in the betting comes Grand Sancy who is more than capable if arriving on a good day but has also put in some underwhelming performances when expected to go well and has never raced over a trip this far so definitely comes with some risks attached.

Cloth Cap won the Grade 3 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last year but has been a shade disappointing in two runs so far this season and has to give weight to all rivals so would have to step forwards on what we have seen in recent runs if he is to get involved.

Valtor won this race in 2018 on first run for Nicky Henderson and is undoubtedly well-handicapped now switched to the Melanie Rowley stable. He has a decent record fresh but I fear may struggle against his younger rivals.

The other prior winner of this race is Regal Encore who picked up the prize in 2016 and again in 2019. He disappointed when last seen at Warwick in November but was third in a Grade 3 over course and distance prior to that and having made the frame in an amazing ten from thirteen here at Ascot it would be foolish to dismiss his chances despite his advancing years.

Storm Control has had a wind op since failing to finish at Cheltenham in October and as a prior Grade 3 winner who has proven stamina over this trip (and further) he looks to hold a decent each way chance especially as he is likely to have a decent pace to aim at.

Another who needs to be considered for each way purposes is Checkitout who has put in two encouraging runs so far this season, ahead of Regal Encore when second over course and distance in a Grade 3 in October before a third over the Grand National fences at Aintree last time out. He is re-united with Sam Twistor-Davies today and looks unlikely to be too far away at the finish.



written by Dean Kilbryde


15:35 Ascot

West Cork overcame a mammoth six hundred- and thirty-one-day absence when beating a few of these in the Greatwood at Cheltenham last time and a seven pounds rise in the weights may not be enough to prevent a follow up. Clearly unexposed and from a powerful yard, he really ought to have plenty more improvement in him although this could come quick enough and he did have the run of the race the last day.

Goshen barely needs an introduction, high class when in the mood, he could prove too good for these though none of the last dozen winners of this race have carried as much weight as he must, as such, he looks worth taking on.

Samarrive made up for his disappointing seasonal return when bolting up at Sandown a fortnight ago, hailing from the all-conquering Paul Nicholls yard, his eleven pounds penalty for that demolition job may underestimate his ability and he looks to have every chance once more.

Onemorefortheroad has won his last three and has the services of Bryony Frost here, this demands yet more of him though he is as progressive as any and he would be dangerous if getting an easy lead.

Metier is best forgiven his latest effort and would want respecting if the ground becomes desperate and although he is beginning to look rather exposed, Tritonic often leaves the impression that he has one of these in him.

No Ordinary Joe tanked his way around from the front in the Greatwood and did well to finish so close to the first two, given he refused to settle. Luttrell Lad has finished second on his last two starts, time will tell how strong those efforts were though one gets the strong impression they were above average and he holds very strong claims if in the same form. Global Citizen looks interesting back at this trip and catches the eye of the rest but No Ordinary Joe can land this if settling better and is taken to do just that for the Henderson/McManus combo.

NO ORDINARY JOE (WIN) written by Chris Connolly


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