There are seven races televised live on Channel 4 today. From Ascot, races start at 1.50, 2.25, 3.00 and 3.35, and from Haydock Park at 2.05, 2.40 and 3.15.
Sodexo Clarence House Chase
Willie Mullins sends another of his stable stars across the Irish Sea today with Un De Sceaux adding real spice to an outstanding renewal of the Clarence House Chase.
To our eyes, last year’s Arkle winner doesn’t look bad value this afternoon with some 4/6 available. His Queen Mother price of 13/8 is also tempting as it could collapse if he wins comfortably here. Unless you are a big stakes punter, however, the only real option is to include him in some accumulators or take him and Sire De Grugy on in the hope that we can get one or both beaten.
If you adopt the latter tactic then VIBRATO VALTAT and TRAFFIC FUIDE are both interesting – as a place for either would still give a decent return.
Both his trainer Paul Nicholls and Vibrato Valtat seem to be coming into form with the horse running well behind Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre last time out. He may need further these days so the ground, an assured end to end gallop and a stiff finish should all play to his strengths.
Traffic Fluide, meanwhile, is a much more speculative bet, but he achieved plenty as a novice last season and, at 6 years old, remains open to no end of improvement. Whatever he does here he remains a horse to follow.
|Vibrato Valtat (ew)||3.00 Ascot||12/1||Bet365, Sky Bet|
|Traffic Fluide (ew)||3.00 Ascot||33/1||Bet365, Paddy Power|
Mullins has another short price favourite in Mares’ Hurdle, a listed contest for the fairer sex.
Vroum Vroum Mag has barely been off the bridle in racking up a winning sequence that stretches to her last seven races over a mixture of hurdles and fences. She could be anything, but is priced accordingly. Given that she has stamina to prove, and that she takes such a huge chunk out of the market at her cramped odds, it is again worth taking her on with a couple of each way alternatives.
The trip is new territory for AURORA D’ESTRUVAL too, but she caught the eye with a decent comeback behind Camping Ground at Cheltenham recently on her first start for Rebecca Curtis. She is entitled to improve for that run and is undoubtedly a talented mare.
The other one to back is DESERT QUEEN, who is lightly raced but improving fast. She was behind Cannon Fodder last time out, but enjoys a massive swing in the weights here. She’ll hopefully enjoy the ground and the only worry is her yard, which has been very quiet recently.
Look out too for Dark Spirit who might be capable of making the frame at a huge price (33/1 Bet365) now returned to hurdles.
As an aside, with Mullins having the chance to take home two more big pots this afternoon, now may be the time to back him to win the trainers’ title here at 7/4 with Bet365 – as a successful Cheltenham could see him out of reach of the likes of Messrs Nicholls, Hobbs and Henderson.
|Aurora D’Estruval (ew)||1.50 Ascot||8/1||Bet365|
|Desert Queen (ew)||1.50 Ascot||15/2||Bet365|
’40 Years Of Keltbray’ Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle
There’s a valuable and fiercely competitive handicap hurdle for punters to get stuck into at 2.25pm, and there’s no short price favourite to worry about, with bookmakers going 7/1 the field this morning.
Of those towards the head of the market, VALUE AT RISK looks the most appealing. His venture into the chasing world hasn’t gone to plan with two falls from two starts over fences, but he was a top class staying novice hurdler last campaign and looks fairly treated by the handicapper on his return to the smaller obstacles. He stays well and handles the ground.
At the other end of the market and the weights is MR FITZROY, who landed a decent touch when winning at Kempton over 2 miles recently. He too goes in the ground and he must have been showing plenty at home to warrant the support he enjoyed in the market that day.
If he copes with the extra half mile here he can outrun his odds despite being out of the handicap.
There are plenty of dangers and it was hard to resist including the ultra-game Lil Rockerfeller in our portfolio as he ran a monster race for us in graded company last time out. Ebony Express is also interesting back up in trip.
|Value At Risk (ew)||2.25 Ascot||9/1||Bet365, Sky Bet|
|Mr Fitzroy (ew)||2.25 Ascot||33/1||Bet365, Sky Bet|
bet365 Handicap Chase
With the Nicholls bandwagon starting to roll, SALUBRIOUS looks the one to beat in the Bet365 Handicap Chase at 3.35, and he should be backed to at least cover your stakes on a couple of outsiders.
The lightly raced Minella Reception looks interesting although the stable from is a worry, but the two outsiders in the field are both capable of causing a big shock.
DARE ME is well treated if Venetia Williams can get him back near his best and the drop in trip should suit him. AERLITE SUPREME looks to be coming to hand for Evan Williams after making the switch from Michael Hourigan’s yard in Ireland.
|Aerlite Supreme (ew)||3.35 Ascot||18/1||Bet365|
|Dare Me (ew)||3.35 Ascot||33/1||Bet365|
|Salubrious (win)||3.35 Ascot||9/2||Bet365, Sky Bet|
Peter Marsh Chase
The ground will be desperate at Haydock this afternoon, which will make their big betting heat, the Peter Marsh Chase, a real slog.
Reve De Sivola is ridiculously well handicapped over fences, but he hasn’t always looked in love with the chasing game and so is worth opposing at the price.
Virak looks a more solid option, but has plenty of weight, whilst Fingal Bay has yet to prove he really sees out a test of this nature.
That means we could be in for a shock and the ones to focus on are SEVENTH SKY, SPLASH OF GINGE and THIRD INTENTION.
Seventh Sky won here two starts back, but was taken off his feet in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham over a shorter trip last time out. He seldom runs a bad race and can dictate proceedings from the front here.
Splash Of Ginge will win a decent handicap before the season is out and today could be the day if he copes with the ground. As we’ve already mentioned, the form of the Twiston-Davis horses is a worry, but he is worth chancing at the odds.
Many may be surprised at us selecting Third Intention given all his best form is over much shorter trips, but he just have a hunch he could run well here if he can get into a decent rhythm over the obstacles.
Course winner Gas Line Boy is respected on his first start for a new yard.
|Seventh Sky (ew)||3.15 Haydock||12/1||Bet365, Sky Bet|
|Splash Of Ginge (ew)||3.15 Haydock||18/1||Stan James|
|Third Intention (ew)||3.15 Haydock||28/1||Bet365|
Start Your RacingUK Free Trial Now Novices’ Chase
The graded novices’ chase early on the card is arguably the other most interesting race at Haydock and all five runners can be given a chance.
We actually like the two outsiders and Zamdy Man and Boru’s Brook should both be backed to cause an upset with Paddy Power, who are offering money back as a free bet, if your horse finishes 2nd to the SP Favourite in all races at Haydock today.
|Zamdy Man (ew)||1.30 Haydock||12/1||Paddy Power|
|Boru’s Brook (ew)||1.30 Haydock||10/1||Paddy Power|