A decent day's racing prior to the Christmas break and hopefully we can close off with a couple of winners from the three races we are playing in.
At Fisher's Cross only has three rivals in the Long Walk Hurdle and probably only Reve de Sivola, which won this last year has a chance of beating him and only if Fisher's jumping is as bad as last time.
Hopefully we will see our ante post vouchers on Cue Card come in and with only eleven taking place he will not have trouble in running. I will be back on Boxing Day morning with selections from Kempton and possibly Wetherby.
2.05 Haydock One Stop Energy Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase (CLASS 2)
There are a few experienced types in this including Solix and Tartak and if either reproduced their best have a chance here, but that is unlikely.
No Planning was under serious consideration here especially with Jonathan England taking off a valuable 5 pounds here, but Sue Smith’s string is not firing at the moment.
Safran de Cotte has not won in this class and despite potential to improve I expect him to place at best, although Henry Daly is in great form.
Loch Ba disappointed in the Hennessy and this is a big drop in class but he has never won at this level. He is likely to place but the odds are not each way friendly.
Samstown is bottom of the weights and won well last time in a Class 3; however he is very inexperienced having only run in three chases. This inexperience counts against him in a decent chase like this over tough fences.
Night Alliance fell at the last and may have beaten No Planning at Kelso, but his strike rate is not great and these fences are more difficult. I expect No Planning to confirm his superiority especially with the five pounds claim.
Venetia Williams has bounced back to form in the last ten days or so and Emperor’s Choice obviously needed his debut run this season. It appears to me that he has been targeted at this race and has an excellent chance at a value price. He stays further than three miles and that is key as the ground is going to be very, very soft by race time tomorrow.
3.00 Ascot Mappin & Webb Silver Cup Handicap Chase (Listed Race) (CLASS 1)
Triolo d’Alene drops back in trip and onto soft ground which are two reasons that he is not value. He could still win especially if replicating his Hennessy form, but others represent a better betting proposition.
Cedre Bleu is very tempting but the fact he is unproven over the trip and the soft ground will stretch the stamina puts me off.
Battle Group has abundant talent mixed in with a touch of lunacy. If he puts his mind to it I have no doubt he could romp home here, but that is a big gamble. He is not worth taking a chance on, as he may even refuse to start as per his last race.
Houblon des Obeaux finished behind Trilolo d’Alene at Newbury and now has a huge turnaround at the weights. He also has the going and distance to suit and these factors coupled with the stable form can produce a win.
3.35 Ascot The Ladbroke (A Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) (CLASS 1)
Ptit Zig and Rolling Star are both classy animals which will go on the ground, but both have a lot of weight to carry. This high weight (11 stone 9 pounds has been the highest winning weight in recent times) will be stamina sapping on the soft ground.
Pine Creek disappointed for us last time and would need to improve his hurdling to have a chance here. He has a pull at the weights with Chris Pea Green and handles soft so may have place claims.
City Slicker was a close call, but I eventually went for Chatterbox due to City Slicker not being done any favours by the UK handicapper. Willie Mullins as started targeting these big Saturday races and has a strong string to send over. I would think he will place but his odds are lower than Chatterbox so I have gone for value.
Chatterbox was second in a Listed race on his seasonal debut but his rating has not gone up and that is a plus. He beat My Tent or Yours in his Novice season and that is turning out to be pretty good form. He handles soft and the only negative I could find is that Geraghty stuck with Rolling Star.
Dell’Arca won the Greatwood on his UK debut and that is pretty strong form. I think he has more improvement to come and gets in on a reasonable weight, which will be an advantage on this ground. He handles very soft and his win in a big field last time bodes well here.
Have a great weekend and I hope you and your families have a wonderful and festive time over the next week.