Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Haydock and Ascot on Saturday. View selections below.
KATENKO (3.15) will be in his element when tackling very testing conditions in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock. Venetia Williams’ eight-year-old has some good races in him and he hit a purple patch in January last year when thumping Fruity O’Rooney at Cheltenham, some three weeks after dishing out similar treatment to his rivals at Sandown.
Both wins came on deep ground and Katenko will find this task easier than his last outing at Aintree in December when getting a rear view of classy Unioniste. That run came only a week after his fall in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and Venetia Williams has given him plenty of time to recover from those exertions.
TAQUIN DU SEUIL (1.30) will be relieved he doesn’t meet Oscar Whisky, twice his nemesis this season, in the 2m 5f novices’ chase. Jonjo O’Neill’s young star remains a horse of considerable potential and he likes to get his toe in.
Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson are worth following on an excellent Ascot card, with THE SKYFARMER (2.25) chasing a five-timer. His most recent four-length triumph over Lyvius is looking even better in the wake of that horse’s thrilling Kempton victory last Saturday. Although his successes have come mostly on good ground, it’s worth recalling The Skyfarmer was only just denied by the very useful Red Sherlock on his bumper debut on deep ground at Ascot last February.
Hobbs saddles CHAMPAGNE WEST (4.05) under top weight in the final event and there was plenty to like about his victory over useful Deputy Dan at Warwick in early December. He duly followed up at Wincanton 23 days ago, pulling clear by 10 lengths in impressive fashion.
SIRE DE GRUGY (3.35) has already posted top-class victories in the Tingle Creek and Desert Orchid Chase and can despatch another quality field in the Clarence House Chase. Somersby, the 2012 winner and runner-up to Master Minded 12 months earlier, clearly loves it around Ascot and would be a highly popular and emotional victor for Hen Knight, who recently lost partner Terry Biddlecombe through illness.
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