Drumacoo returned from over a year away from the track with a hugely impressive 38 length victory over the 140 rated Fletchers Flyer at the beginning of January, making it four wins from his last four runs. That was his first attempt over fences and he jumped well throughout, handling the trip and soft ground without any problems at all. He’s been given a decent break by the in-form trainer Ben Pauling and although stepping up in class for today’s race if he runs as well as last time out then he should prove very difficult to beat.
Onenightinvienna has also beat Fletchers Flyer twice this season, albeit by much lesser margins than mentioned above. He has won four from seven over today’s trip, will relish the ground conditions and arrives here with solid recent form having run a close second the last twice and isn’t discounted lightly.
The Nicky Henderson trained Vyta Du Roc has only failed to make the frame in one of nine career runs which was when fourth in the 2015 renewal of the Neptune so is another who brings consistent, top quality form to the table for today’s TV opener. The step up in trip looks likely to suit although the forecast odds look a little short considering the two aforementioned opponents are already proven over this trip and will both have conditions to suit.
Drumacoo (WIN) – NAP
We move over to Haydock for the second of our TV previews where the top two on official ratings, Reve De Sivola and At Fishers Cross both look to try and regain the winning thread after respective long absences from the winners enclosure.
Reve De Sivola is a multi Group 1 winning hurdler with seven wins from twenty seven over hurdles and was a respectable eight lengths behind Thistlecrack on his penultimate run only to disappoint last time out. He hasn’t tasted success since the 2014 Long Walk Hurdle and although it would be wrong to write him off considering all his achievements I feel his early price is a little short considering his last run.
At Fishers Cross hasn’t won since notching up a 6-timer over the 2012-13 season although showed he still maintains some of the old spark when running a solid second on seasonal re-appearance last month. He won’t mind the forecast conditions so if building on his last run he has to enter calculations.
One Track Mind has a 50% win record over hurdles and has been progressing well, winning last time out over a shorter trip but shouldn’t be inconvenienced stepping up today.
Deputy Dan is another at home in the conditions and has 100% record for making the frame over hurdles (two wins and five placed efforts from seven). However he was twelve lengths behind Reve De Sivola last tie out and a chance is taken on Silsol.
The Paul Nicholls trained seven year old returns to hurdles for today’s race having disappointed over fences last time out. He boasts a 70% record for making the frame over hurdles, has won and placed over todays’ trip, has previously won at Haydock, is comfortable with forecast conditions and the yard are starting to fire again with a 66% strike rate for making the frame in the last two weeks.
The second televised race from Ascot looks an extremely tricky affair despite there only being five runners. It certainly doesn’t look to be a race to get too heavily involved in but nevertheless we will attempt to find the winner.
Spookydooky has a good record over three miles and the yard have a 40% win rate over fences in the last two weeks although Joshua Moore’s record of no wins and only one placed effort from thirteen here at Ascot tempers enthusiasm somewhat.
Sausalito Sunrise is a personal favourite and has a winning strike rate approaching 50% over todays’ trip but the stable aren’t really on form at the minute and the early favourite could be worth taking on today.
Vieux Lyon Rouge has won three from four over fences and was still travelling well when falling three from home last time out. He is proven on soft ground and over three miles but neither David Pipe of Tom Scudamore have had a winner over fences in the last two weeks despite twenty-four attempts between them so preference is for Waldorf Salad.
The Venetia Williams yard have a decent record here and run Waldorf Salad who has won two from his last three and although he just failed in his hat-trick attempt last time out he was well clear of the remainder. He is partnered with Aidan Coleman who also has a decent course record so could be the answer running off bottom weight.
Waldorf Salad (WIN)
We return to Haydock for the Grand National Trial and get to see the in-form Kerry Lee send out her Irish Grand National Winner Mountainous. He battled on well to win by over two lengths on very testing ground the last day but now has a 10lbs rise to contend with and may be worth taking on here at current best price of 4/1.
Rigadin De Beauchene will love the testing conditions and has an excellent record here at Haydock having won this race in 2014 and overall two wins and one placed effort from four. Furthermore he has the engine to make this a real test if he chooses and has a 33% win record for races over similar distances as todays’ race. He was unlucky to fall after being badly hampered by a loose horse when last seen and should be capable of making amends here today.
Of the remainder, Cloudy Too was an impressive winner last time out but has gone up 10lbs as a result and may struggle with the step up in trip, while Broadway Buffalo has won two from three here at Haydock but hasn’t won since December 2014 and is yet to win over any trip further than three miles.
Rigadin De Beauchene (E/W if 9/2+)
Back to Ascot we go in the hope that early favourite Montdragon can continue his recent progression by making it three wins in a row. His previous two wins were both over todays’ trip and although the winning distances don’t look overly impressive on paper the placed horses in both races were last time out winners so there looks to be more to come for the Jonjo O’Neill trained six year old.
There does appear to dangers aplenty, headed by top-weight Different Gravey. The big weight is a concern especially given this is his first run in ten months but three wins from four with two over a similar distance to todays’ race means he could be a danger if fully fit on return.
Debdebdeb has taken well to hurdles with two wins and a second from his four attempts so far, however today sees a step in to the unknown as he has never raced over further than two miles before so his stamina has to be taken on trust.
Pull The Chord and Arctic Gold are also worthy of a mention but perhaps the biggest danger could be Roadie Joe who won four in a row earlier in the season and although only fifth last time out he finished behind some top class performers and should have benefitted from the break.
Montdragon (E/W if 9/2+)
We head over to Wincanton for their only televised race of the day. Only four runners are scheduled to contest and in truth its difficult to get away from the favourite Irving. He’s been given a much needed rest after three runs in three weeks during November where he won twice, beating Melodic Rendezvous on both occasions, before coming unstuck in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. Proven on soft ground and with five wins from nine over todays’ trip he should be capable of gaining victory today.
Rayvin Black gave The New One a scare in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock in January, finishing just two lengths behind the 2013 Neptune winner. He has held his form well and was only a neck second at Sandown earlier this month. A similar run today should see him give the favourite a good race.
Pain Au Chocolate is entitled to take this step up in class following back to back wins on soft and heavy ground in recent months. He would need to improve again to get involved here but has been running well and should benefit from the experience.
Melodic Rendezvous won this race in early 2014 but hasn’t won since winning a class 4 later that year. He has finished behind both market principles already this season and hasn’t shown enough recently to suggest he is capable of reversing that form.
We return to Ascot for our final TV race to take in the feature race of the day, the Betfair Ascot Chase. The eye is immediately drawn to Silviniaco Conti at the head of the market. He is proven over trip, has won here at Ascot and should find the ground just to his liking. However, he was disappointing when pulled up in the 2015 King George, a race he had won with relative ease the previous two renewals and had no answer to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock prior to that so as much as I would like to see him back to his best with a win here I feel there are better options in terms of value.
Dynaste hasn’t won since winning the Ryanair at Cheltenham in 2014 and is another who hasn’t really fired so far this season. As with the aforementioned Silviniaco Conti his ability and career achievements aren’t in question but I couldn’t back with confidence with question marks over recent form.
Ma Filleule placed second in this race last year and warmed up for todays’ race with a hard-fought win at Doncaster at the end of December. She had to battle right to the line to beat Emily Gray, only just getting clear in the final few strides, and should appreciate this slightly longer trip today. She is one of only two to arrive on the back of a last time out victory but with Emily Gray disappointing since preference is for Triolo D’Alene.
The Nicky Henderson trained 9 year old has won at Ascot, has won over todays’ trip and looked to have the measure of Ptit Zig (who unseated when under real pressure) when winning last time out. Ptit Zig got to within two lengths of Vautour in November and was second behind Thistlecrack at Cheltenham on his latest run so this looks to be the best form on offer and current odds of around 6/1 looks a great each way bet considering there are three places on offer.
Trio D’Alene (E/W if 9/2+)