Paul Ferguson three selections for us on Saturday; Zeroeshadesofgrey in the Wetherby 1.25; Ptit Zig in the Down Royal 2.10 and Sgt Reckless in the Ascot 2:15. Compare odds and bet.
There might be an important Flat meeting over in America tonight, but the domestic National Hunt season really steps up a gear this afternoon, with high-class cards at both Ascot and Wetherby.
There are several interesting runners at the Berkshire track, namely Altior who faces an interesting French raider; Padge looks a fair each-way option in the novices’ handicap chase; and a couple of my favourite horses in training Sign Of A Victory and Present View also look to hold sound each-way claims in a couple of really competitive handicaps – both will be hoping the rain stays away.
The one I really like at Ascot, however, is Sgt Reckless (2:15) who is surely capable of winning a handicap from a mark of 144 and Gavin Sheehan is an eye-catching booking.
Formerly a very smart novice hurdler (4th to Vautour in the 2014 Supreme), the eight-year-old was campaigned sparingly last year but did win twice from three starts over fences and he is another who would appreciate a decent surface. At 5-1, he ought to be hard to kick out of the frame assuming he jumps proficiently.
Even the bumper is intriguing in which another Nicky Henderson runner (has chances with the aforementioned Altior and Sign Of A Victory) Cultivator sets the standard, judged on his sound third on debut at Newbury. He tanked through the race that day and, assuming he settles better this afternoon, he looks the one to beat.
The day’s ‘nap’ comes from up at Wetherby, where I thought Zeroeshadesofgrey (1:25) would have been favourite to beat Southfield Royale, a horse that regular readers will know I am also a fan of.
The market leader ran well on his recent chase debut, but the selection was a better novice hurdler last term and appeals as the type to develop into a smart staying novice over fences this time around.
Neil King’s imposing grey is at his best over 3m on a flat track and the recent rain means that he will be making his debut under optimum conditions. The six-year-old was trading around 2-1 on Friday evening.
Over in Ireland Ptit Zig (2:10) can land the Grade 2 intermediate chase, a race Paul Nicholls has dominated in recent years. A high-class novice in the first half of last season, he is another who returns to action under optimum conditions and, though Clarcam arrives here with a run under his belt, the son of Great Pretender can make a winning reappearance for the second year in a row.
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