Paul Ferguson has three selections for us on Saturday; Keys in the 1:15 at Ascot, Riverside Theatre in the 3:00 at Ascot and Starluck in the 3:45 at Wincanton.Compare odds and bet
Nicky Henderson enjoyed another good day at the office yesterday, with the victories of Sprinter Sacre and Long Run at Newbury the undoubted highlights in an across the card four-timer, and the in-form trainer can land today’s feature Grade 1 Ascot Chase with last year’s winner Riverside Theatre (3:00).
The eight-year-old hasn’t been seen since running away with this contest 12 months ago, but he has a fine record when fresh and, though this year’s race looks a better renewal on paper, it should be remembered that he has still only had seven starts over fences and he was still progressing when last seen.
The unexposed Kauto Stone, who has actually had one more start over fences than the selection, is the potential fly in the ointment, but all of his French form comes on soft ground and conditions were bad when he made an impressive debut for Paul Nicholls at Down Royal in November.
On today’s forecast decent ground, things look more in favour of Riverside Theatre, who can pick up from where he left off en route to a crack at the Ryanair Chase next month.
Henderson should already have one on the board by the time the big race comes around with Keys (1:15) looking to hold outstanding claims in the opening novices’ hurdle.
The five-year-old, a classy sort in bumpers and on the Flat, bumped into the potentially high-class Cinders And Ashes on debut and should appreciate today’s better ground.
Barry Geraghty’s mount has been off the track since early December, but that is rarely an issue from this stable and he was trading at Evs on Friday evening; I had expected him to open up odds-on and remain that way until post time.
Though Grandouet has been forced to miss Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle, Henderson will still be hopeful of landing the £34,170 winning prize money as he has decided to run Binocular, but the former Champion Hurdler looks tight enough around the 4/7 mark.
The evergreen eight-year-old Celestial Halo looks most likely to take advantage if Binocular, who still didn’t look back to his best to me when winning the Christmas Hurdle, fails to sparkle but Starluck (3:45) could be the forgotten horse of the race and is worth a bet at the prices in receipt of 8lbs from the top two in the betting.
The seven-year-old hasn’t been seen since disappointing in last year’s Maghull Novices’ Chase last April, but earlier last season he had finished in front of Binocular in the re-arranged Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newbury and six lengths behind Tony McCoy’s mount in the Christmas Hurdle off levels.
The selection also finished ahead of Binocular in the 2009 Christmas Hurdle (again off level weights) and, given that he has gone well fresh in the past and the race could be run to suit (he likes a strongly run race on decent ground around a tight track like this), he is worth taking a chance on at 7/1.
1:15 Ascot Keys (1/1)
3:00 Ascot Riverside Theatre (9/4)
3:45 Wincanton Starluck (7/1)
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Last Year’s Tips Included 40 Leading Prospects: £499.80 profit to a level £10!
- AL FEROF won Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 10-1
- BENSALEM won Stewart Family Handicap 5-1
- BOBS WORTH won A Bartlett 15-8, 4/4 for year
- CAPTAIN CHRIS won Arkle Trophy 6-1
- FIRST LIEUTENANT won Neptune Investment 7-1
- (plus Grade 1 in Ireland 16-1)
- JAMES DE VASSY won Lanzarote Hurdle 8-1
- LONG RUN won King George 9-2, Gold Cup 7-2
- OSCAR WHISKY won Aintree Hurdle 6-1
- Peddlers Cross (Fighting Fifth Hurdle)
- Medermit (Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase)
- FINIAN’S RAINBOW (Maghull Novices’ Chase)
- WISHFULL THINKING (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)