We’re set for another thrilling Saturday of National Hunt action with Haydock and Ascot both staging great-looking cards.

 There are eight races on ITV and here are Nick Luck’s thoughts and fancies on them.


SHAKEMUPARRY can take the opening ITV race (1.50pm) at Haydock on Saturday for owner Harry Redknapp and trainer Ben Pauling. This lightly raced horse was most unfortunate to run in to Shishkin and Mister Coffey in two Newbury novices last season, but ran with real credit, and had no fuss brushing aside inferiors at FFos Las on his comeback. His mark looks very fair for his handicap debut, and his high cruising speed and exuberant style should be well suited to this pacy track at 11/2.

COLLOONEY (9/1) is an intriguing runner in the valuable long distance hurdle (2.25pm). I was really impressed with his comeback win at Fontwell (form has been really well franked by the third and fourth) and the handicapper has been quite kind to put him up only five pounds. The question mark is the trip, but there is loads of stamina in his old fashioned pedigree and he might even improve for the step up. I’ll also be having a small each-way bet on the ex-French FAUBURG ROSETGRI at 20/1 – although he lost his way over fences, he’s really well treated back over hurdles if his new stable can get him right.

BRISTOL DE MAI might be the one at 2/1 in the feature (3.00pm). While I love both Lostintranslation and Clan Des Obeaux, they are both reappearing off breathing operations and layoffs with a big season ahead. When Lostintranslation beat Bristol De Mai in this last year, he had already had a run and the ground wasn’t quite as soft. Clan Des Obeaux will surely be trained to peak for the King George. Meanwhile, there’s an argument to say that Bristol was as good as ever last year and that this will have been his primary target.

BALLYDINE hasn’t seen much action in recent seasons, but he’s capable of taking a hand in the finale at Haydock (3.35pm). I thought he shaped with a lot more promise than his finishing position suggested in a better race than this at Aintree on his comeback from a long absence, and that should have moved him forward. In addition, he has been dropped a generous four pounds at a track where he has produced his two best figures over fences. Charlie Longsdon’s charge is priced at 10/1.


REAL STEEL has not convinced everyone he is the real deal, but he’s highest rated of these by some way and can make a winning start for Paul Nicholls at Ascot in the 195 Chase (2.05pm) at 2/1. While I accept his run in the Gold Cup was flattering owing to the absence of an honest pace, I would also suggest that he has his optimum conditions here: a small field suits well, as does easy ground and a right-handed track (all his wins have come right handed).

SONG FOR SOMEONE could be on for a minor upset in the three runner Ascot Hurdle (2.40pm) at 3/1. I suspect he might be able to dictate this race, and he takes a fair amount of stopping when he’s rolling along in front. He has been very patiently trained by Tom Symonds, who is operating at a whopping 20% strike rate this season and whose horses have never been in better form. This step up in trip should suit and he can maintain his relentless progress.

DRUMCONNOR LAD (7/1) is a tentative selection in a really competitive chase (3.17pm). He’s really blossomed late in life for the excellent Adrian Keatley, posting something close to a career best at Ayr last time. My reading of this horse is that he is a staying two-miler, and the presence of plenty of pace should turn this into a suitable test at the trip.

WONDERWALL is an educated guess in a bumper (3.50pm) where there is very little form to go on. There are plenty of the bigger stables making the market, but Richard Spencer knows what he’s doing under both codes and this is a very well related horse (Riverside Theatre close up in the pedigree) who cost plenty as an unrated store and ought to be capable go taking a hand at 12/1.

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