Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Haydock and Ascot Park on Saturday. View selections below.
FINGAL BAY (3.15) has been a remarkable servant to Philip Hobbs, winning eight of his 17 career starts, and could well add to that impressive tally in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock.
The 10-year-old has been in great heart this season, finishing a gallant fourth to Smad Place in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and running third to Wakanda at Ascot three weeks later. Fingal Bay looked the most likely winner that day when striking the front two out and his class just swings the verdict in an open contest. He pipped If In Doubt on heavy ground at Exeter back in 2014 and may handle conditions better than some of his rivals.
Top weight Virak had Algernon Pazham held in third when scoring over course and distance last April but is 15lb higher now.
Champion-elect Richard Johnson has ridden Fingal Bay in all his races but it looks significant he has plumped to head to Ascot for three rides, all for his guv’nor Hobbs.
ROCK THE KASBAH (2.25) is his mount in the Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle, a Grade 3 contest over just short of 2m 4f. Rock The Kasbah has been used sparingly, chasing home Court Minstrel at Chepstow in October before coming clear to win by eight lengths over this trip at Haydock. There is more to come.
Baron Alco is on a four-timer for Gary Moore and looks sure to go well along with Simply A Legend, while Zulu Oscar remains relatively unexposed for Harry Fry.
Johnson gets the leg-up on another two for Hobbs, ROYAL REGATTA (3.35) and DUKE DES CHAMPS (4.10). The former ran his rivals ragged with a bold front-running performance over course and distance and a 4lb rise for his 11-length romp isn’t penal by any means. Venetia Williams’ horses tend to go well in the mud and she is doubly represented by Grand Sefton Chase winner Bennys Mist and top weight Cold Marsh. The longer trip may find out Cold Marsh but Bennys Mist won’t be far away.
Duke Des Champs is fancied to take revenge on Masterplan, his short-head conqueror here in December, especially as an almighty blunder two out cost him valuable ground and momentum. Charlie Mann’s Expedite steps up in class but he looked a dour stayer when scoring at Huntingdon and could well outrun his loud price.
Earlier on the Ascot card, FAIRY RATH (1.15) will appreciate a slight ease in grade. He often travels like a dream before folding tamely in the closing stages and that was the scenario at Sandown when he stopped to a walk up the hill behind Bishops Road. It was a similar story over 2m 5f here in December when Fairy Rath finished third to Tenor Nivernais but this shorter trip may suit him better on testing terrain. The race is confined to amateur riders and Nick Gifford has booked a good 5lb claimer in Joshua Newman.
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