Conditions have dried out considerably at Ascot overnight despite yesterday’s rain and the ground at the Berkshire track, where the feature race is the Victoria Cup, is now good to firm on the straight course.
Victoria Cup (Heritage Handicap)
That should suit BIG BAZ, who may also enjoy the drop back in trip to a stiff 7 furlongs having run so well for a long way over a mile here last time out. In fact, William Muir’s 5 year old has done all his winning over 8 furlongs, but he has never tried this distance and the certain breakneck gallop here will bring stamina into play at the death.
He is drawn 7 and there is no telling whether that will prove the right place to be, so it is certainly worth having something drawn high in your portfolio and it is also often worth supporting David O’Meara in these contests, so SO BELOVED fits the bill on his second start for the new star of the training ranks.
So Beloved was second on his seasonal and stable debut, a run which will surely have told O’Meara plenty and given him time to iron out any final wrinkles before a stab at this big prize today. Again, his winning form over further is surely a positive.
There are no end of dangers including potential, lightly raced improvers such as Dream Spirit and Zarwaan, and experienced handicappers like Heaven’s Guest and American Dream, but as a third string to our bow we can’t resist a small each way bet on just about the most experienced runner of them all – HAWKEYETHENOO.
Jim Goldie’s 9 year old has plunged down the weights and is 10lbs lower than his last winning mark. He also has a 7lbs claimer on board today at a track he loves. He will surely be back in the winner’s enclosure soon, so let’s hope today’s the day.
|Big Baz (ew)||3.45 Ascot||18/1||BetVictor|
|So Beloved (ew)||3.45 Ascot||18/1||Bet365, BetVictor, Ladbrokes|
|Hawkeyethenoo (ew)||3.45 Ascot||33/1||Generally|
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (The Swinton Hurdle)
Jump racing takes place on a greatly contrasting surface at Haydock today where the going is soft for the Swinton Hurdle – the new season’s first big prize.
We can’t look any further here than HANDIWORK who ran a massive race for us at a huge price in the Scottish Champion Hurdle recently. His saddle slipped tuning for home that day, but he flew at the death despite that massive inconvenience and would have claimed a place or better given a few more yards.
He has won on soft ground before and so looks very much the one to beat.
Unsurprisingly, given the size of the prize, there are plenty of others with chances including Ravin Black for the in-form Oliver Sherwood, but at a much bigger prize SONG LIGHT makes some appeal as he has always looked likely to be suited by a fast run race and a big field. He’s also won on this ground and has a decent claimer taking a handy 7lbs off his back.
It will be interesting to see how last year’s first and second – Ballyglasheen and Barizan – fare this time around, whilst Tony Martin’s raider The Plan Man has to be respected after the yard’s good run of form at Punchestown.
|Handiwork (ew)||3.25 Haydock||9/1||Bet365, BetVictor, Coral|
|Song Light (ew)||3.25 Haydock||25/1||BetVictor|
Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle
With that in mind, Martin’s EDEYMI could take the opening race on the card, the Pertemps Long Distance Hurdle.
He caught the eye when staying on well in a Pertemps Qualifier at Mussleburgh earlier in the season and although he disappointed in the Final of that series at the Festival he has since run encouragingly at Fairyhouse.
The enigmatic SYBARITE looks the main threat.
|Edeymi (ew)||1.45 Haydock||13/2||Bet365, BetVictor, Ladbrokes|
|Sybarite (ew)||1.45 Haydock||12/1||Bet365, BetVictor, Titanbet|