Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Haydock Park and Ascot on Saturday. View selections
MONBEG DUDE (2.55) can provide late call-up Tony McCoy with another hugely popular scalp in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock. Michael Scudamore’s gelding will appreciate this slight drop in class having run fourth in the Coral Welsh National after occupying the same position behind Many Clouds in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. The handicapper has eased Monbeg Dude a couple of pounds and this week’s dry spell is of no concern as this stout stayer beat Theatre Guide on decent ground at Cheltenham last season. Benvolio, runner-up in the Welsh National, looks sure to figure for Paul Nicholls, while Harry The Viking’s deep stamina reserves bring him into contention off a low weight at a loud price.
RUN RUCTIONS RUN (3.25) makes each-way appeal in the Pertemps Hurdle Handicap Hurdle qualifier. She runs the track well, having chased home useful sorts Kilcooley and On Tour respectively earlier this season. Run Ructions Run posted a solid effort when third to Dawalan in another qualifier at Musselburgh and Richard Johnson is an eye-catching booking by Tim Easterby. Jonjo O’Neill’s unexposed Kelvingrove is worth considering further down the weights, while McCoy teams up with John Ferguson’s wide-margin Sedgefield winner Aqalim. He is sure to attract support, along with last-time-out scorer Invicta Lake.
RUNSWICK ROYAL (4.30) has taken well to chasing, his form figures reading 2212 from four runs over the bigger obstacles. A previous course winner, Runswick Royal makes plenty of appeal in the Betfred-sponsored Limited Handicap Chase after running Philip Hobbs’ Royal Regatta close at Doncaster. This 2m 5f trip is an unknown but my selection was doing all his best work at the finish on Town Moor.
PTIT ZIG (3.50) can lower the colours of Balder Succes and Ballycasey in the Betfair Ascot Chase. The Nicholls-trained six-year-old has been well touted for the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham and can reinforce his strong claims on the back of an impressive Cheltenham verdict over Champagne West on New Year’s Day. Earlier, Ptit Zig had shown his liking for the Ascot track by putting Josies Hill firmly in his place and he looks a young horse going places. Balder Succes was more at home over a longer trip when justifying strong market support at Kempton in a three-runner event and retains a touch of class. Ballycasey made Carlingford Lough pull out the stops at the Punchestown festival in April but didn’t look himself when flopping behind stablemate Twinlight at Leopardstown’s Christmas fixture. Willie Mullins’ grey may have been unsettled by a first-fence mistake and remains a dangerous rival.
CAROLE’S DESTRIER (2.40) could upset a couple of better fancied runners in the Weatherby’s Hamilton Chase. The seven-year-old scored over three miles at Exeter, making all the running, and similar forcing tactics were employed at Cheltenham last time when Carole’s Destrier faded up the hill after heading the pack turning for home. Disappointingly, only seven runners go to post, with Lucinda Russell’s Scottish raider Clondaw Knight the probable favourite. He was an impressive Wetherby winner but a 13lb rise looks harsh.
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