Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Haydock and Ascot on Saturday. View selections below.
SHELFORD (3.30) can provide Nick and Dan Skelton with a notable double in The Ladbroke at Ascot. The dynamic duo landed this competitive handicap hurdle 12 months ago with lightly-weighted Willow’s Saviour and Shelford is similarly attractively treated under 10st 7lb. The form of his Chepstow victory over Aubusson was handsomely endorsed when that horse beat Big Easy at Haydock recently and, equally important, Shelford has shown he can handle deep ground. This race habitually throws up a big gamble and the plunge horse this year has been Activial, a relatively unexposed four-year-old in the care of shrewd Harry Fry. At a much bigger price, Pine Creek is offered up as an each-way alternative. John Ferguson’s hurdler was travelling strongly turning for home in this event last year but faded disappointingly into seventh. Pine Creek was never seen again last season, suggesting something may have gone amiss. His reappearance at Cheltenham last month resulted in an encouraging fifth to Garde La Victoire in the Greatwood Hurdle and he is entitled to have come on for that pipe-opener.
ZARKANDAR (2.25) can dispose of four rivals in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle. Paul Nicholls issued a bullish bulletin earlier in the week and Zarkandar can underline his World Hurdle aspirations by backing up a classy success in the mud at Auteuil. Victory for Aubusson would give a very timely boost to Shelford’s prospects but the main threat may come from Reve de Sivola, a dual winner of this race but below par of late.
THE YOUNG MASTER (3.00), controversially demoted through an administrative blunder after landing the Badger Ales at Wincanton with plenty to spare, could make light of a subsequent ratings hike. Neal Mulholland has a rapidly-improving chaser on his hands and a feature of The Young Master’s progress following a switch to the larger obstacles has been his solid jumping technique.
At Haydock, THE PIRATE’S QUEEN (1.30) is of interest in a classy Listed mares’ hurdle. Alan King’s five-year-old built on an encouraging first run behind Blaklion at Chepstow by comfortably landing the odds at Doncaster. Unbeaten Bitofapuzzle also travels north with leading credentials, but The Pirate’s Queen sets a very decent standard.
HOWARD’S LEGACY (2.05) is a horse at the top of his game and is fancied to continue in similar vein by scooping the Tommy Whittle Chase. Venetia Williams made three entries for this nice prize but relies solely on last month’s Bangor winner. Howard’s Legacy was pulled out nine days later under his penalty and led two out at Ascot before being run down by Grandads Horse and Tullamore Dew.
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