Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with seven to follow on Saturday at Ascot, Haydock and Newcastle. View selections below
The big betting race of the weekend is the Ladbroke Hurdle from Ascot and it is a fascinating, but perhaps not top-class, renewal of this valuable handicap. Activial was 10/1 when betting opened on the event at BetVictor but has been backed all rates into 4/1 and trainer Harry Fry has made no secret of the fact that he considers his 4-y-old well-weighted off his current mark.
The only time Activial encountered a big field he failed to fire at Aintree, however, although he might have found the ground too quick on that occasion. His lack of experience (four career starts) is a concern and he is overlooked.
Baradari was a huge disappointment at Cheltenham last time when he hurdled poorly but I am convinced there is a big race in him this season although it might be over further. At a bigger price Gassin Golf is one to consider at 25/1 for the inform Richard Lee yard but, despite returning from a 1011 day absence, Balgarry (3.30) gets the vote for the David Pipe yard.
The selection was 20/1 earlier in the week but is now into 8/1 at BetVictor and he looked a horse full of potential when winning on his British debut back in 2012. It should be noted that Newbury success was gained returning from a 557 day lay-off and the weight of money for the 7-y-old suggests the yard have him back to his best.
Houblon Des Obeaux won the Mappin & Webb Silver Cup last year from a 9lb lower mark and he ran a terrific race in the Hennessy last time when runner up to the progressive Many Clouds. He must go close as must Badger Beer “winner” The Young Master who has been raised a stone for his facile but controversial Wincanton success when he bolted up in a race that he wasn’t eligible to compete and was subsequently disqualified.
Despite being 2lbs wrong at the weights Ardkilly Witness (3.00) can score in his first-time visor for Dr Richard Newland having finished fourth over C&D last time. The booking of Tom Scudamore certainly catches the eye and he lugged 11st 11lbs around last time and now carries 10 stone.
At Haydock Goohar (12.00) can go one better than when runner up at Cheltenham last weekend despite being hit with a 4lb rise. The selection will get further in time but he returns to the scene of his C&D success on similar ground last Xmas and will appreciate the testing conditions.
Bitofapuzzle (1.30) can maintain her unbeaten record in the Mares’ Hurdle for Harry Fry with Jason Maguire taking over in the saddle with Noel Fehily required at Ascot. The mare didn’t beat much at Wincanton on her hurdle debut but was unbeaten in three bumpers two at today’s listed level and is taken to beat Alan King’s The Pirate’s Queen in what promises to be a most informative contest.
I thought Fill The Power (2.05) ran into one at Carlisle last time having jumped and travelled well and he is only 2lbs higher than when scoring at Wetherby earlier in the year on similar (heavy) ground. Toby Lerone will ensure there is plenty of pace in the race and I am loath to desert the latter a horse who did us a favour from an 8lb lower mark last weekend although he didn’t appear to get home over 3m on his only previous attempt at the trip.
At Newcastle the Malcolm Jefferson stable could do with a winner and Firth Of The Clyde (1.40) can land the feature stepped back up in trip having been tapped for toe when runner up at Kelso on his reappearance off today’s mark.
Trust Thomas (2.50) is a progressive young chaser who can make it two out of three over the larger obstacles having gone down by half a length over C&D last time. The Orange Rogue is a winning pointer who should be considered especially if there is a market move but Trust Thomas is going to make a better chaser than hurdler and looks ahead of the handicapper.