Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ascot and Haydock Park on Saturday. View selections below.
SPRINTER SACRE (3.00) will have the whole racing industry holding its collective breath when he makes his long-delayed comeback in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot. Nicky Henderson’s superstar has been off the track for 386 days and is entitled to be a bit ring-rusty. However, he looked sharp enough in a recent racecourse gallop and the even-money on offer may look a gift in hindsight. Fingers crossed all goes according to plan and he should outclass Dodging Bullets, Somersby and Twinlight.
BITOFAPUZZLE (1.50) looks excellent each-way value in the OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle. Harry Fry has placed the seven-year-old astutely and Bitofapuzzle almost made it five wins on the bounce when just denied by Alan King’s The Pirate’s Queen on heavy ground at Haydock. There was quite a gap back to third horse Ron’s Dream (hacked up in midweek) and Bitofapuzzle is put up as a lively alternative to very useful Carole’s Spirit.
LYVIUS (2.25) is the preferred choice of the Henderson duo in the Keltbray Holloway’s Hurdle. Barry Geraghty replaces Peter Carberry following Lyvius’ solid fifth to On Tour here last time (slightly hampered at the final flight), renewing the partnership which landed the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Kempton last January.
NICEONEFRANKIE (3.35) ran his rivals ragged at Cheltenham before Christmas and can defy a 7lb rise in the bet365 Handicap Chase. Venetia Williams’ gelding is clearly in great heart and may have most to fear from stablemate Tenor Nivernais after his fine run behind Splash Of Ginge on New Year’s Day.
At rain-sodden Haydock, BENBENS (3.15) can go well in the Peter Marsh Chase. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ doughty stayer found the gruelling Coral Welsh National overstretching his stamina but he was still bang there with a chance turning for home. If Benbens can repeat his excellent effort at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power fixture in mid-November, when just failing to concede 9lb to consistent Charingworth, he will be competitive off his low weight.
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