Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips on Saturday at Ascot, Haydock Park and Lingfield. View selections below.
PINE CREEK (3.35) should go well at a juicy each-way price in a fiercely-competitive Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle at Ascot.
Stylish Denis O’Regan likes to creep his way round in these big-field puzzlers and he delivered Pine Creek with a typical late flourish to score over course and distance in early November. John Ferguson’s five-year-old appears to prefer a flat track (his two other successes came at Doncaster and Leicester) and he might not have felt quite so much at home on Cheltenham’s undulations when sixth to unexposed Dell’ Arca in the Greatwood Hurdle. Pine Creek was sent off favourite that day and deserves another chance to take his revenge on the David Pipe winner, especially as he jumped sloppily at two of the last four flights. Tony McCoy teams up with Willie Mullins’ City Slicker, an easy winner at Punchestown last time, and they look sure to be in the shake-up.
Nicky Henderson’s impressive Hennessy Gold Cup hero Triolo D’Alene reappears in the three-mile handicap chase. The top weight will find underfoot conditions much more demanding here and HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (3.00) had him nine lengths in arrears when winning over course and distance in the first week of November. The Venetia Williams-trained six-year-old is 3lb better off into the bargain.
At Haydock, Grand National-winning trainer Sue Smith has a bright prospect in NO PLANNING (2.05), who must have a leading chance of landing the Tommy Whittle Chase. The six-year-old has finished out of the frame only once (fell) in his last nine starts and posted a victory on heavy ground at Hexham last year. Jonathan England’s 5lb claim is a bonus.
SPECIAL CATCH (2.40) is a strong fancy in the 2m 4f handicap hurdle. Keith Reveley has his string in great nick and Special Catch caught the eye over course and distance when third to More of That, subsequently so impressive when beating Salubrious at Cheltenham last weekend.
At Lingfield, MIA’S BOY (2.00) has his best chance for some time in the Ladbrokes Conditions Stakes. The old boy could manage only fourth in this event 12 months ago off a 3lb higher mark but arrives here on the back of an excellent third to Marshgate Lane. Returned to a mile, Mia’s Boy will need a strong pace to attack, along with principal threat Emerald Wilderness.
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