Expert analysis on all the televised races
Saturday's televised horse racing is from Ascot, Haydock, Uttoxeter and Wincanton and can also be viewed right here at williamhill.com through racingTV.
Paul Jones, our Weatherbys' expert tipster , brings you his thoughts on the big TV races of the day. With the big meeting just weeks away, you might also like to read Paul's weekly Cheltenham Festival previews.
Remember that all UK and Irish horse racing comes with our Best Odds Guaranteed promise which means that, if you take the price when placing your bet, you will get paid at the SP if it ends up bigger than the price you took.
|1:05 Ascot||Read preview||Bet now|
|1:20 Haydock||Read preview||Bet now|
|1:40 Ascot||Read preview||Bet now|
|1:55 Haydock||Read preview||Bet now|
||Read preview||Bet now|
||Read preview||Bet now|
||Read preview||Bet now|
|2:40 Wincanton||Read preview||Bet now|
|2:50 Uttoxeter||Read preview||Bet now|
|2:55 Haydock||Read preview||Bet now|
|3:10 Wincanton||Read preview||Bet now|
|3:25 Haydock||Read preview||Bet now|
|3:30 Uttoxeter||Read preview||Bet now|
The heavy ground has frightened off Gone To Lunch and Shining Gale so just four remain. As this is a front runner's course now on the chase track, I like Carruthers' chance and hope he can fend off Ballyfitz for the lead.
Some will look at Ballyfitz's defeat of Big Fella Thanks and rate him the form horse but the latter has improved a lot since then and I prefer to take What A Friend as the marker and Carruthers gave him more to do at Uttoxeter than Ballyfitz did at Cheltenham plus the Twiston-Davies are still out of form (though did have a rare winner this week).
Breedsbreeze has his right-handed, flat track but I am not sure he wants 3m in really heavy ground and felt the Feltham fell in his lap being the only one of the market principals to jump properly that day. I doubt Turkish Surprise is good enough.
The ground is not ideal for Kasbah Bliss but he is officially rated much superior to these and can't be far off his peak even on his seasonal debut with Cheltenham less than a month away. I would not back him at long odds-on but would not oppose him either as I do have a doubt that his main market rival Duc De Regniere is an out-and-out stayer plus some of the Henderson horses that were flying earlier in the season have been a little disappointing of late.
In fact, it may be worth looking for something else for the forecast especially as he also has to give 8lbs in heavy ground to all his rivals bar Kasbah Bliss. Maybe Accordello? She was only beaten seven lengths in this race by Kasbah Bliss last year could be the one to follow the French horse home at a tidy price. It would not surprise me.
The better the ground the better Kasbah Bliss likes it (was good to soft when he won this race last year) so I don't expect him to win impressively but it will still be disappointing if he can't head to the World Hurdle off the back of a win.
Whiteoak only runs here if Wincanton is off. I was all set to nominate Belcantista for last weekend's abandoned big handicap hurdle at Newbury so he is an automatic selection for me in this weaker race though I accept therefore the odds may not be as tempting.
Looking at him paddock-side before he finished second in the Ladbroke Hurdle, he looked all quality and ran a stormer in that event over today's course and distance. Yes, he has gone up significantly for that run but he is only a novice and therefore more than capable of defying it.
Dave's Dream is the other potential novice blot on the handicap and the stable's record in top races at Ascot this season has been exceptional. He is the obvious danger though Dancing Tornado is also respected having run so well in the Pierse Hurdle now that he has discovered 2m is his trip.
Lough Derg loves Ascot but he will be doing incredibly well to win off 160 in what is a stronger race than the handicap he won here earlier in the season. Onnix apparently heads for the Champion Hurdle after this so if he is to have any hope there, then he must be a leading player here.
The one thing this is going to be is an almighty stamina test as, when it gets heavy at Haydock, it is incredibly testing ground exacerbated all the more in staying chases such as this 3m4f affair so I can’t be having highly-weighted horses at all so the top four of Miko De Beauchene (has not finished his last two races), Opera Mundi and Mon Mome are not for me off 11st 8lbs or more (Comply Or Die was declared but does not run).
Coe is an in-form, young and progressive horse with a recent course and distance victory to his name that is proven on soft ground, represents former winning connections of this race and is only giving weight to two horses so is a major player. Still a novice, he is only having his fifth chase start so there is more improvement to come for certain and for him to win last time out in a competitive race off 11st 9lbs was a tremendous performance given how testing it was and his stamina will not be in question.
Sherwoods Folly ran well to be fifth in the Welsh National as a rank outsider and should not be dismissed whilst Nenuphar Collonges stays all day and all night and if his jumping can be sorted out would also be a huge player.
Not a strong race for a terrestrial televised event but one in which Painter Man makes most appeal for the back-to-form David Pipe team. A lightly-raced individual, he was returning from an absence of two years when finishing in mid-division at Chepstow just over three months ago when the stable were struggling and with that run under his belt and the yard's fortunes very much on the up, a far better showing can now be expected.
His previous run in a novices' hurdle when third to a good sort, reads quite well in the context of this race. More The Merrier looks the main threat on his recent win (the runner-up franked the form next time out) and the step up in trip could also bring around further improvement.
With The Sawyer and Knowhere looking like non-runners, this Grade 1 race will probably cut up badly to just three runners. I reckon the last thing they want to give Voy Por Ustedes less than a month before the Festival is a slog on heavy ground to take the edge off him and he is simply not as good going right-handed as he is left-handed so think he is a favourite to take on.
In fact, even though he is virtually certain to start favourite, I can see him finishing last of three! His class could get him through as he is rated 18lbs higher than Gwanako and 5lbs higher than Tamarinbleu but I would say he is 7lbs worse going this round, a few more pounds worse for heavy ground and a few more pounds for not being cherry ripe.
If Gwanako can find 7lbs worth of improvement I think he has a great chance as he loves soft ground, showed a liking for the track last time and has only run in six chases in his life so there is doubtless more to come. Now the Pipe team are back in form, Tamarinbleu is also a serious player especially as Ascot favours front runners on the chase course now and he also showed his liking for the track when winning a Grade 1 here last season plus soft ground will also hold no terrors for him.
Formerly the Victor Ludorum Hurdle, Resounding Glory appeals most as Indian Groom has gone backwards in his last two runs since making a taking winning debut and Stow was not trustworthy on the Flat and, after winning his on hurdling debut, has been a shade disappointing the next twice.
Resounding Glory, on the other hand, won a Listed race at Wetherby at the Charlie Hall Meeting (his second win from two starts over timber) beating Silk Drum who went on to win his next two starts so the form is strong and he is the freshest of the three market principals. How he will handle very soft ground is the sticking point in terms of having a good bet on him but I would still make him the most likely winner.
Given how well last-time-out winners fare in the Champion Hurdle (won 22 of the last 25 runnings) I will be looking for very big runs from Punjabi and Ashkazar given I am on the former in the market without Binocular and the latter each-way in the outright market. The latter is not to be given up on by any stretch of the imagination even though he is a bigger price now than when I backed him as, unlike most, I felt he shaped well enough on his return considering he looked in need of the run and the yard were terribly out of form at the time.
I'd rather not play here though as I do feel Punjabi is under-rated and the main threat to Binocular in the Champion Hurdle at present but his trainer feels he is short of work and needs to get a run into him plus I have a lot of time for Whiteoak who reportedly worked very well last week and is being lined up to defend her mares hurdle crown at the Festival.
Takeroc is back to hurdles as a warm up for the Champion Chase but he finds little off the bridle for me and I think Songe outslogged his rivals at Haydock last time and this is a step up. If I was to have a bet, it would be on Ashkazar.
The percentage play looks to be Kingham. Roger Curtis' charge has a handy low weight in ground likely to be very testing (and it gets really holding at Uttoxeter when it is soft ground or worse) in these conditions and he comes here off the back of a win at Catterick last time out.
Lightly-raced for a nine-year-old, he is one of just a couple of in-form runners in this race but the other, Marodima, has top weight following a Grade 2 win as a novice last season for which he is still suffering and that weight will be hard to shoulder in this ground. Of the remainder, Tidal Fury is a possible as he loves heavy ground and likes to front run so it is a question of whether he can fend off Marodima for the early advantage. If he can, then he would be an interesting alternative.
I would just give the nod to Tarablaze over Massasoit as the latter didn't run well last time out though he has the stronger form on his Aintree win. I just feel that when Tarablaze won over this course last time out he was crying out for this step up in trip and was under a drive four flights from home and, being by Kayf Tara, I expect he will also prefer racing on this more testing surface as it was good ground for his last outing.
Massasoit looked good at Aintree before disappointing in the Challow Hurdle and I know Nicholls doesn't rate him in the same league as his main staying novice hurdler, Pride Of Dulcote. For what it is worth Tarablaze also receives 3lbs from Massasoit and it all helps on this surface over this 3m1f trip.
Khachaturian ran a very game race in a hot Sandown handicap last time out only giving way after attempting to make all at the final hurdle when eventually finishing fifth and this flatter track can help him last home better.
He is tough but that hard race may have taken the wind out of his sails a little. It's boring I know but I prefer the chances of the hat-trick chasing Charity Lane for the Nicholls yard at his local track following facile wins at long odds-on on his last two starts. Quite frankly, we have no idea how good he is so could still be very well handicapped.
Ballyfitz won this Pertemps qualifier before winning the Final at the Festival last season which was the first time the winner at Cheltenham had contested this particular qualifier. However he fares here, Otto Des Pictons is one I have my eye on for the Final as he has had two fairly quiet runs this season and he looks the stable string of jockey bookings here so I imagine today may not be his day but Inchidaily Rock is interesting as the Ballymore Properties could be his aim so there is no need not to show his true colours and he has the look of an out-and-out stayer.
However, I don't think he is one to trust implicitly so perhaps Nicky Richards' Grizebeck could be the one today. The yard almost won this qualifier last season with Gunner Jack but Grizebeck has a far better attitude, comes here in form off the back of a win last week he stays very well and, being a novice is open to more improvement. He is only 2lbs out of the handicap and carrying 10st over 3m in this ground will be a godsend.
Mohayer was a useful handicapper last season but has not shown much this time around so can be taken on as can the top weight Take The Breeze in likely holding conditions as he also struggled off his new mark last time out and has not been dropped for that run.
Gun to the head and Smoothly Does It would get the vote dropping back down in distance and the excellent Rhys Flint is superb value for his 7lbs bringing him down to 10st 6lbs and every pound can make a big difference in going as gluey as Uttoxeter usually gets when it is wet.
I would also look at the bottom weight, Picot De Say, given the testing conditions. Put a line a through his pulled-up effort last time as he made a shocking mistake that put him right out of the race but his previous form was consistent and he could make them all go off 9st 7lbs with his conditional jockey's claim.