There’s some more top-class action in front of the ITV cameras on Saturday with the Clarence House Chase taking centre stage at Ascot, while there are good cards at Haydock and Taunton too.

Here’s Nick Luck’s preview…


EGLANTINE DU SEUIL is a tentative tip at 7/2 to surprise the market leaders in the Warfield Hurdle (1.15pm) that opens up Ascot’s TV action on Saturday. Ratings give her a little to find with Roksana – and her recent efforts are nowhere near as compelling – but she receives six pounds and looked to be well worth a try at this trip on her last run, when valiantly trying to concede a stone to the useful The White Mouse at Cheltenham.

LIGHTLY SQUEEZE has one of these big handicap hurdles in him and I’m hoping it’s the Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle (1.50pm) after an excellent effort behind Not So Sleepy and Buzz here last time. He kept chipping in for a bit more that day, having been front rank throughout and – if more patiently ridden over this longer trip – can build on that performance over a distance which seems certain to suit at 11/2.

DOMAINE DE L’ISLE must surely be worth of each-way interest to repeat last year’s success in the handicap chase (3.00pm). He is six pounds better off with Benny’s King, the 2020 winner, who is favourite and a third his price at 14/1. The selection has been in a series of unsuitable races but is back to his winning mark as a consequence, gets David Bass for the first time since that victory and is equipped with blinkers.

DEFI DU SEUIL simply has to be the bet at the prices in the Clarence House (3.35pm). There is very little between the big three here on pure talent, and Politologue deserves to be favourite, but Defi (9/2) is at least his match when on song and arguably posted his most striking performance in this race last year. He clearly has a few issues, but the vibes are good, he has bounced back from disappointments before, and the yard seems to be hitting a bit of form.


NADA TO PRADA can make the most of the gender allowance she receives from Llandinabo Lad in the Rossington Main (1.30pm). I suspect that she’ll want a fair bit further in due course, but she beat a pretty decent mare in the Festival third Rayna’s World in a Listed race here last time and that doesn’t give her too much to find at 9/2.

CLYNE is kicking on a bit now, but can roll back the years in the staying handicap hurdle (2.05pm). He has run some terrific races around here in the past, including two starts ago when just failing off a similar mark in a hotter race. This has cut up a bit light – with relatively few horses in form – and I am hoping he can erase the memories of that unlucky stumble at Chepstow with a bold effort here at 7/1.

ROYALE PAGAILLE (9/4) is going to start favourite for the Peter Marsh (2.40pm), but he was so impressive at Kempton that he gets my vote again, as I believe he’s full value for his 16-pound hike in the weights. He comfortably turned away another one of the best handicapped horses in training, while a subsequent winner was miles back in third and the seventh placed horse ran a screamer in this week’s Somerset National. In addition, he jumped to his left, which suggests a return to Haydock will be an advantage. At a big 14/1, SMOOTH STEPPER is worth a little each-way investment in case the favourite fluffs his lines.

NAVAJO PASS is genuinely a good bet at 9/1 in the Champion Hurdle Trial (3.15pm), and not just because of some lazy ‘outsider of three’ superstition. For all the good vibes, Buveur d’Air is coming back off a very serious injury and always looked at his most vulnerable in his pomp when faced with a tiny field and a tactical race. In addition, Nicky Henderson is operating a good bit below his usual level of dominance. Ballyandy is one of the most likeable horses in training, but we know exactly where we are with him, while the selection is still open to bundles of improvement and was spoken about in glowing terms by his trainer after winning at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day. I expect him to dictate this from the front and still be in front at the last.


YALA ENKI will take the world of beating in the Portman Cup at Taunton (2.10pm). The winner of this race last year, when he beat Rock The Kasbah quite cosily, he probably has the same rival to beat, as I am not sure If The Cap Fits or The Mighty Don either have their ground or jump slickly enough for this sharp track. Yala Enki comes here again off a superb third under a huge weight in the Welsh National and should freewheel these into submission at 4/5.

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