By News Team
18th December 2020
There’s another jam-packed Saturday of action with great racing from Newbury as well as Haydock. Nick Luck has taken a look at the cards for us.
EARLY DU LEMO can make the most of his attractive handicap mark in Ascot’s TV opener on Saturday (1.50pm) at 6/1. Beaten a whisker by course specialist stablemate Darebin on his first run after a monster layoff, you sense that he might have won that race nine times out of 10 given the way in which he travelled. I’m not bothered that he’s gone up a bit and he’ll love the ground and a slight step up in trip.
ROKSANA is a bit of value to bustle up the big two in the Long Walk Hurdle (2.25pm). Although she has had a pretty long and distinguished career, she’s really only scratched the surface of what she can do granted a proper test of stamina. Indeed, her only three runs at this trip have been two absolute crackers behind Santini and If The Cap Fits at Aintree and an absolute cakewalk on her seasonal debut at Wetherby. She will appreciate the conditions more than the market leaders and she could be very dangerous in receipt of seven pounds at 6/1.
ARDLETHEN, another for the Skeltons, makes a fair bit of appeal at 17/2 in the Silver Cup (3.00pm). He has caught the eye on both starts this season and ran particularly well in the at Newbury last time when the trip was little too far and the ground was a little too quick. Conditions should be perfect here, however, and he should be able to show up well in this slightly easier race.
LIGHTLY SQUEEZE is my idea of the winner of the big handicap hurdle (3.35pm). He progressed rapidly last season with lots of winning form on pretty rancid winter ground. He might well have won the Betfair Hurdle off this mark as well but for falling at the last. His run in a very strong edition of the Welsh Champion Hurdle was better than the finishing position (impeded run), and he has had a breathing operation since. His stable is going well now and he looks poised to run a huge race at 10/1.
McGOWAN’S PASS might be another big Saturday winner for Sandy Thomson and Ryan Mania in the handicap hurdle (2.05pm) at Haydock. This horse is nine, but is very low mileage and is probably still improving judged on a super-tough seasonal return at Ayr, when he rallied gamely having been on the sharp end throughout. This track might just suit him and he could take a bit of catching in receipt of weight from nearly all his rivals at 7/1.
ENQARDE is the sort of horse that might have the handicapper quaking in his boots in the Tommy Whittle (2.40pm). This French import has only been with Dr Richard Newland for a couple of runs, but he looked well above average when scooting home in a bad-ground Newcastle novice hurdle. He looks to have had the perfect prep for this and, if he adapts to UK style fences, ought to go very close off 124 at 7/1 (less the claim of the perfectly good Cillin Leonard).