Vautour is the star turn this afternoon with the current Gold Cup favourite making his first appearance since his astonishing win at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Stella Artois 1965 Chase
The markets for the Festival’s blue riband event and the King George could really be shaken up this afternoon depending upon how Willie Mullins’ charge fares.
However, punters are bound to have Faugheen’s defeat last weekend in the back of their minds, so today might be the day to take Vautour on.
On that basis, PTIT ZIG looks a bet to nothing as he can be supported each way with plenty of 5/1 available this morning. He was impressive on his re-appearance at Down Royal recently and has a race fitness edge over his main rival here.
It will also be worth noting how O’Faolains Boy runs with the Gold Cup in mind. He may prove to be the forgotten horse having missed all of last season, as before that he was an impressive winner of the RSA Chase and the Reynoldstown here when he beat Many Clouds. He is currently a 33/1 shot to triumph in the big one in March.
|Ptit Zig (ew)||2.05 Ascot||5/1||Bet365|
The Coral Hurdle that follows can fall to the fast improving BROTHER TEDD, who get a handy 8lbs from the evergreen Rock On Ruby. The trip should be ideal for our selection who impressed with the way he travelled when winning on his comeback at Kempton recently.
|Brother Tedd (win)||2.40 Ascot||7/4||Bet365, Coral|
Shawbrook Handicap Chase
The other race to concentrate on at the Berkshire track is the Shawbrook Handicap, where recent course and distance winner Cold March is sure to go close.
The drying ground will suit Workbench, but it will also bring DUNRAVEN STORM into the equation and he looks overpriced at 12/1, whilst Fago could prove his biggest danger.
|Dunraven Storm (ew)||3.15 Ascot||12/1||Bet365|
The ground will be much softer at Haydock, where another Gold Cup trial, The Betfair Chase, takes centre stage. It is hard to find a decent angle in the race, but if he can cope with the ground (which is a big if) HOLLYWELL could outrun his huge price. He is worth a small investment given those massive odds.
|Hollywell (ew)||3.00 Haydock||20/1||Bet365, Betfair|
Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle
Of more interest to punters is the Fixed Brush Hurdle and on heavy ground the first place to turn is always the Venetia Williams runners. Here she has the fast improving YALA ENKI, who has good form over fences in France and so should be suited by the obstacles here.
Alcala will be a danger if over his exertions at Cheltenham last week, but an ex-Williams inmate, BARADARI, is of more interest as he may have been freshened up by a move to Harry Skelton’s.
Of the outsiders, Bold Sir Brian is not a totally forlorn hope if back to anything like his best, but ONE FOR HARRY is a safer option for the in-form Nicky Richards. He was running well in this race last year before falling four out and won’t mind how bad the ground is.
|Yala Enki (ew)||2.25 Haydock||15/2||Bet365, Betfair|
|Baradari (ew)||2.25 Haydock||14/1||Stan James|
|One For Harry (ew)||2.25 Haydock||28/1||Bet365, Stan James|
Betfair Handicap Hurdle
No Deal is another interesting runner – this time in the staying chase at 12.40. He is lightly raced and open to any end of improvement, but his price now reflects that and with his stamina yet to be proven we will swerve him in favour of VENDOR in the handicap hurdle that follows.
This horse has his own views on the game, but showed flashes of real talent for Alan King and may have had his enthusiasm rekindled by a summer switch to Sue Smith.
|Vendor (ew)||1.15 Haydock||8/1||Betfair|