Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with nine to follow on Saturday at Ascot and Haydock. View selections below
Quality cards at both Ascot and Haydock this afternoon and the highlight is the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at the former track where At Fishers Cross (2.25) looks to redeem his reputation having jumped poorly until blundering badly two out at Newbury on his reappearance. He was last season’s leading staying novice hurdler and he is 8/13 at BetVictor to return to winning ways given his task has been made easier by the last minute defection of Celestial Halo. Reve De Sivola looks the only conceivable danger but, if the favourite brushes up his jumping, with McCoy back in the plate the Rebecca Curtis trained 6-y-old must take all the beating.
The big betting race of the day is the Ladbroke Hurdle; Ptit Zig is one to consider despite carrying top-weight but the Irish raider City Slicker (3.35) by my reckoning is unbeaten going right-handed and Willie Mullins would not bring the horse to these shores if he didn’t think he would be competitive.
Ladbroke Hurdle: prices from BetVictor: ew ¼ first 4:
Rolling Star 11/2
City Slicker 7/1
Dell’ Arca 10/1
Gordon Elliot saddled the winner of the corresponding race 12 months ago and has Fred Winter Hurdle winner Flaxen Flare at 14/1 and he and the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Rolling Star and Chatterbox are big dangers but City Slicker gets the each way nod.
Hennessy winner Triolo D’Alene has been raised 11lbs for that Newbury success and he is 13lbs worse off with Houblon Des Obeaux (3.00) and that might be enough on this soft ground for the selection to reverse the form. The selection made a winning reappearance over today’s C&D, finished runner up in the Reynoldstown here last season and has a very good record going right-handed. More rain would certainly suit but as long as the ground is genuinely soft he is a confident selection.
The Graduation Chase in honour of the late David Johnson can go to O’Faolains Boy (1.15) for the same trainer/jockey combination (Curtis/McCoy) as At Fishers Cross. The gelding was pulled out at Newbury earlier in the week and makes his Chase debut in a good contest but he was the best of these over hurdles and receives weight from the principles. A point winner in his native Ireland he has never raced clock-wise in Britain and this trip (2m 5f) might be on the sharp side for him but he looks just to have only Paul Nicholls’ Easter Day to beat and in receipt of 4lbs he can make a winning start to his fencing career.
The Charlie Longsdon yard have been a bit quiet in the last week but the hope is that Pendra (1.50) can defy a mark of 139 and maintain his unbeaten record over fences; he may have been slightly fortunate to beat Eduard at Carlisle first time but this looks an ideal opportunity against a field of mostly exposed sorts.
At Haydock Carole’s Spirit (1.00) has a bit to find with As I Am on official figures but is taken to land the hat-trick in the Mares’ Listed Hurdle; a daughter of Hernando she ought to appreciate the forecast soft ground and it would be a disappointment to connections if she didn’t go very close.
The Tommy Whittle is, arguably, not the race it once was but it is still a very competitive renewal of this famous event and I hope Emperor’s Choice (2.05) from the Venetia Williams yard can build on what was a promising comeback at Fontwell on a track that didn’t really suit. Dropped a couple of pounds for that run he has never won for any jockey other than Aidan Coleman (rides at Ascot) but Grand National winning pilot Liam Treadwell is an able substitute and he gets the vote.
Tornado In Milan reappears only three days after coming a cropper at the first at Ludlow and he is best watched at present; the grey Wings Of Smoke is a fascinating contender dropping back in trip but the vote goes to Un Guet Apens (1.30) highly regarded by the James Ewart yard and entitled to come on for his first start in Britain at Ayr last month.
Pineau De Re caught a tartar at Carlisle on Sunday and must go well if over those exertions but he must give 7lbs to Sausilito Sunrise (3.15) and the novice gets the vote having improved for the step up to 3m for the first time at Chepstow last time.