Paul Ferguson has three selections for us on Saturday; from Ascot, Huntingdon and Haydock. Compare odds and bet.
It’s Betfair Chase day at Haydock and the supporting card to the Grade 1 feature is headed up by a couple of really competitive handicap hurdles.
The fixed brush hurdle looks really deep; I backed the Warren Greatrex trained Shantou Bob last week at 12-1 and, with the stable in fine form and the horse likely to relish the testing ground, I’m hopeful of a bold show. But, he is half the odds now and I could make a genuine case for half several of these, so there isn’t any juice in his current price.
Tea For Two, the novice Yala Enki and Definitly Red head the main dangers, so the market looks just about right to me. The latter is one that could flourish in this ground and is proven at the track, so he would be the each-way play if forced to nominate a bet today. If he eases out to a double-figure price before the off, he is one to take seriously, while regular readers will know I have long been a fan of Our Kaempfer. I think the race will be run to suit and he ought to take to these obstacles, but I’m not sure he wants the ground so soft.
Earlier on the card Gunner Fifteen could be a blot on the handicap on an opening mark of 121, but he also now looks tight enough on his first start for Harry Fry. The seven-year-old has clearly been difficult to keep sound; he has been off again for just over a year and is very keen in his races, so will need to switch off in the first time hood. If he does, he might well be difficult to peg back, but the bookmakers aren’t taking any chances around the 2-1 mark.
Stilletto, another keen-going sort, looked smart when winning a point-to-point and on debut for Philip Hobbs. He has switched to Paul Nicholls and could go well, but will also need to settle for Nick Scholfield, so this could be a race set up for a hold-up horse.
Top-weight Hunters Hoof is respected, but the ground has to be a concern for Nicky Henderson’s unbeaten six-year-old, so a chance, at the prices, is taken on Oscarteea (1:15) who also returns for a new stable after a year off.
A useful bumper performer, he bolted up on his hurdles debut on bad ground at Ffos Las before finishing runner-up in the Listed novice hurdle at this fixture 12 months ago. The slightly longer trip will suit, Peter Bowen is likely to have him ready and, if Sean Bowen can tuck him away early on, it is not hard to envisage him travelling smoothly into the contest. The 14-1 on offer with Paddy Power looks potentially big.
Down at Ascot, all eyes will be on Vautour, but from a betting perspective the pick of the action comes early on, with Red Hanrahan (12:20) fancied to land the opener for Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies.
Another horse who impressed me when winning his Irish point, the four-year-old looked set to bolt up on his debut under rules at Wetherby, when he stepped at the third last. If that hasn’t knocked his confidence too much, the son of Yeats can gain compensation here. He opened up 2-1 last night.
Another novice hurdler to have onside today is the Nicky Henderson-trained O O Seven (1:05) who should get off the mark at the first time of asking, at Huntingdon.
The Flemensfirth five-year-old impressively won a bumper at this track on Boxing Day, before shaping well in defeat at Exeter. He went on to run better than the bare result in the Champion Bumper and it will be disappointing if he can’t strike here. The selection was trading 4-5 overnight.
12:20 Ascot Red Hanrahan
1:05 Huntingdon O O Seven
1:15 Haydock Oscarteea
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2015-16
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