Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ascot, Newmarket and Wetherby on Saturday. View selections below.
WITH the jumping game moving into top gear it may pay to stick with the heavyweight NH yards this weekend. Nicky Henderson has been a ‘Saturday trainer’ to follow for many seasons and SIGN OF A VICTORY (2.50) can record back-to-back victories in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Ascot. The six-year-old toyed with his rivals 12 months ago but won’t find it so easy this time off a 14lb higher mark. Good ground is the key to this horse and, hopefully, the decision to water the track this week won’t backfire should Ascot get a few showers. Sign Of A Victory was lightly raced last season, getting bogged down in winter ground on a couple of occasions before bouncing back to form in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in April.
Henderson’s ALTIOR (1.10) has looked an exciting prospect and sauntered home by 34 lengths at Chepstow on his hurdling debut. Altior was a smart bumper horse, running third to Barters Hill at Newbury and sixth behind Bellshill in the big Punchestown bumper. John Ferguson’s Vancouverite is capable of serving it up to Altior and Keith Reveley’s unbeaten Descartes represents the north.
SGT RECKLESS (2.15) is another exciting prospect over jumps this season and a recent spin on the Flat at Yarmouth should ensure he is cherry-ripe for a tilt at the Byrne Group Chase. Mick Channon’s eight-year-old was a winner on the Flat and over hurdles before being pitched into the deep-end over fences. Sgt Reckless was hardly disgraced in finishing sixth to exciting Un De Sceaux in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham and he hosed up next time at Carlisle. He seems to enjoy racing right-handed.
DYNASTE (3.05) bids to get his career back on track in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. A former winner of the Ryanair Chase, Dynaste has competed at the top level for the past couple of seasons and his recent spin at Auteuil will have blown away the cobwebs after a 260-day absence. Dynaste was last seen on home soil at Cheltenham in January when third to subsequent Grand National hero Many Clouds but is 10lb better off today. Cue Card is also in receipt of the full 10lb allowance and is a must for the shortlist, while Dynaste’s talented stablemate Ballynagour, Honeywell and last year’s winner Menorah add plenty of lustre to a quality line-up.
WANNABE YOURS (3.10) is a frustrating customer but his turn may come in Newmarket’s six-runner Listed contest over 10 furlongs. John Gosden’s four-year-old travelled sweetly over this trip at Goodwood on soft ground but was ultimately just outgunned by Battalion. The fact Wannabe Yours raced alone on the stands’ side here last time out may have been a disadvantage when managing only fifth spot behind Energia Davos and he just gets the nod over soft ground specialist Top Notch Tonto.
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