Our first live race of the afternoon comes from Haydock and the two mile, class two hurdle.
The New One on all known form is the one they all have to beat here and the market reflects that. Winner on his first start of the season at Kempton, he wasn’t entirely fluid, but his class told and he ran out an easy winner at long odds on. The same is expected today and barring any catastrophic incidents in running he shouldn’t have any issues seeing off the rest and is the first selection of the afternoon.
Melodic Rendezvous is the key danger according to the betting. Returning to a trip he has won over three times and any further easing of the ground will be a positive although even with ideal conditions he doesn’t look to have the beating of the favourite.
Aroura D’Estruval Dotted up last time at Wetherby and looks to have bags of potential. Lightly raced and lurking at the bottom of the weights he could provide the each way value here and steal the runner up spot.
The New One (WIN)
Next up is a grade two chase ran over two miles three furlongs.
All eyes will be on last year’s winner Al Ferof, Walsh He should have no problem with the drop in distance and is certain to be a popular choice for punters especially with the return of Ruby Walsh in the saddle. He goes well fresh and trainer Paul Nicholls has a great strike rate at the track and Al Ferof, today’s second selection, is taken to get the better of his market rivals.
Main Danger according to the betting is the Philip Hobbs trained Wishful Thinking. Returning to form in emphatic style at Aintree on reappearance gives hope he can give the selection a race, but in the past he has been prone to jumping mistakes and that could well be his downfall once again.
Bury Parade could fare best of the remainder. Another who has put in a few bad rounds of jumping, but since winning at this track in January he has looked much improved, forgiving the last run over a much further distance he could well run above his market price.
Al Ferof (WIN)
We head back over to Haydock for our third selection and their 14:25. A grade two hurdle ran over 3 miles.
Nicky Henderson saddles the market leader Volnay De Thaix. Easy winner last time at Huntingdon he cruised to the lead two fences out and was never in danger of being passed. He looks thrown in under his penalty and a big run is predicted here. Today’s trip is almost half a mile further but the manner of his victory last time suggests he will find it within range. There was a lot to like about that victory and he would be no surprise winner but we look to another recent winner for out next selection.
Katkeau gets the vote here for trainer David Pipe. Unraced for almost two years he returned last weekend at Cheltenham where he was brought into the race travelling well before being produced at the last and won with ease. He is fitted with the tongue tie as has been the case on his previous two starts and that looks to have worked wonders. He should have no problem with his 5lb penalty.
Dara Tango is another who is returning from a long layoff. A recent start on the flat after a two year absence resulted in a win after being promoted in the steward’s room. He showed a good attitude there and if he retains his ability over hurdles should be able to make the frame
Ascots 14:40 is next up for the afternoons TV races. A hurdle race ran over two miles three and a half furlongs.
The unbeaten Faugheen is the Selection and the one they all are trying to beat here. Ruby Walsh has been on board for 5 of the 7 victories and in a field where nothing looks to have the form of Willie Mullins’ 6 year old. 12 length winner last time he was seen in April he doesn’t always jump fluently. If given an easy lead it could well turn into a procession.
Lac Fontanta progressed well last season but seemed to disappoint in smaller fields. If at his best second would be the most he would likely achieve, but with only 7 runners he is readily passed over.
Blue Fashion has not raced since this time last season and with some fair French form prior to his only run in Britain he is picked to take second in this contest.
Our fifth selection runs in Haydocks 15:00. A grade one chase ran over three miles one furlong.
Cue Card looks to return to the race he won twelve months ago and put forward his credentials for next year’s Cheltenham Festival. If he’s retained that ability he will be a force to be reckoned with in this field. There is however a worry he will be here with a view to make it to this seasons festival and that combined with a defeat on reappearance in a race he also won previously is reason enough to look elsewhere.
Dynaste, like Cue Card is at the head of the betting, and while he does have reliable form and the ability to run well after a break, he may struggle if held up in testing ground.
Taquin Du Seuil comes here after finishing behind one of today’s other rivals Menorah. The addition of cheek-pieces could bring out enough improvement in Taquin De Seuil to confirm the potential he showed when winning 2 from 4 earlier this year . He looks to have no issues ground-wise and if jumping error free he should be thereabouts at the final fence.
Barry Geraghty is a rare booking for the yard but when he does line up for this trainer it is to be respected.
Taquin Du Seuil (E/W)
Our penultimate live race of the afternoon is Ascot’s 15:15. A Class 2 handicap chase ran over two mile one furlong.
Grey Gold, winner of his last start at Chepstow when showing the same toughness as when involved in tight finishes in his last two runs last season. He has the benefit of a run and although he has gone up in the weights he should be able to keep tabs on the leaders and give them a real fight to the line.
Brick red is the selection however. Venetia Williams has her yard in fine form and although there are questions to answer regarding the trip the return to soft ground will be in his favour. Travelling strongly when last seen in march on less favourable ground todays conditions will be ideal and is hard to envisage him being out of the placing’s
Fair Dilemma could provide each way backers with a big run. Out of the frame only once from his last five starts he does look to be on an upward curve and if he can cope with another rise in the weights may cause a surprise.
Brick Red (E/W)
The final live race of the afternoon comes from Haydock in the final race of their meeting. A class two handicap ran over three miles one furlong.
Shotofvaodka is the final selection. Well beaten on his last two starts he has looked a lesser horse than when running well at this venue on two occasions earlier in the year. Winner on the second of those starts here he won going away and if the last two efforts are forgiven and todays ground shows him in a better light he could easily take advantage in an open looking contest. The return of Jockey Tom Scudamore is another reason to expect a better run here.
Midnight Appeal has dropped to a mark he’s capable of defying although he has had suitable conditions on recent runs and has failed to make an impact. He doesn’t have too many clear rounds and doesn’t look to recover when making mistakes. Tom Bellemy will need to make his claim count if beating the more experienced riders.
Masters Hill will be the main danger if having a clear round. Colin Tizzard’s gelding goes well fresh but again if he makes any errors it is likely he won’t be able to claw back any lost ground in these conditions.