What are the best bets in the TV races at Haydock, Ascot and Lingfield?
It’s a busy Saturday with competitive action on the Flat and over jumps and here are my thoughts on the seven races shown live on Channel 4.
14:15 Haydock – Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Registered As The Swinton Hurdle), 1m7f144y
The temptation is to to stick with Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Ch’Tibello as he beat a decent field that day off just a 6lb lower mark and is clearly suited by a fast-run 2m, which he should get here. However, the bookmakers look to have his measure, with no bigger than 9/2 on offer overnight, and I’d rather take a chance that the Ayr sixth, JOHN CONSTABLE (11/1 Hills), can reverse the placings. He had finished five lengths in front of Ch’Tibello on their previous meeting at Newbury in November and is 3lb better off with the Skelton runner here. Rated 94 at his peak on the Flat and lightly-raced over hurdles after just five starts, there ought to be more to come from the five-year-old and this may have been his target all along, given that his stable has won two of the last three runnings.
14:30 Ascot – Leo Bancroft Signature Haircare Handicap, 1m4f
Nicky Henderson has decided to run SIGN OF A VICTORY in this rather than try and lump top weight to victory in Haydock’s Swinton Hurdle run 15 minutes earlier and it could prove a shrewd move. The seven-year-old is potentially very well treated in this sphere off a mark of 88, despite his sole Flat win coming in a maiden at Wolverhampton. He’s scaled much greater heights over jumps, winning three of his 11 starts, and has been very highly tried the last twice, finishing last in the Christmas Hurdle won by Faugheen and most recently eighth in Annie Power’s Champion Hurdle. This will feel like a doddle in comparison and his trainer has already plundered one valuable prize on the level this week when No Heretic took advantage of a lenient mark in the Chester Cup. William Buick is having his first ride for the stable and bet365’s 5/2 that it’s a winning one seems reasonable enough.
14:45 Haydock – Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes (Listed), 7f
This looks trappy to say the least with five of the seven runners priced at 5/1 or shorter (those generous bookies!) and MARKAZ has to be a tentative selection at Betfair’s 9/2. He was a decent sort when with the now retired Barry Hills, winning twice (including at Group 3 level) and running several good races in defeat, including when chasing home Limato in a Newmarket Group 2, and he’ll be all the sharper for his reappearance fifth at Leicester (Coulsty second), where he missed the break and pulled too hard. That was his first start for rookie trainer Owen Burrows, whose Massaat finished runner-up in the 2000 Guineas, and much better can be expected with that run under his belt.
15:05 Ascot – Carey Group Buckhounds Stakes (Listed), 1m4f
All bar one of the seven runners are making their seasonal reappearance and the market should prove informative. Andrew Balding’s Scotland has been put in as overnight favourite and while he stays much further – he was fourth in the 2m4f Gold Cup here – he does have comparable form over this trip. However, he’s plenty short enough given he’s likely to need his first run back and and I’d rather take a chance on ELITE ARMY (9/2 Hills) coming back to something near the form he showed when beating Windshear at Royal Ascot 2015 eased down. He was confined to one run last term (well beaten) due to injury but according to his trainer Saeed Bin Suroor he has been in full work for a while now and connections are hopeful he can fulfil his potential following a gelding operation.
15:25 Lingfield – Betfred Mobile Oaks Trial Fillies’ Stakes (Listed), 1m3f106y
All six runners bring winning form to the table and five were successful last time out, including Aidan O’Brien’s Seventh Heaven, a winner on the all-weather at Dundalk 19 days ago. She has to be respected with Ryan Moore up, but she’s up against one of my horses to follow this season, the Ralph Beckett-trained MOUNTAIN BELL, and she has likely been targeted at a race her stable has won three times this decade. Although it’s never wise to get carried away with wide-margin maiden successes on testing ground, she could be called the winner a long way out when bolting up at Windsor on her reappearance and her smooth action suggests she will have no problem with today’s better surface. Beckett tends to run his best fillies in this contest – he won it with subsequent Oaks heroine Secret Gesture in 2013 – and the selection can follow suit – at bet365’s 2/1 – before going onto better things herself.
15:40 Ascot – EBF Breeders’ Series Fillies’ Handicap, 1m
Nerves got the better of PANDORA (5/1 Betfair) last season after a promising start to her career and she could be the answer to this fillies’ handicap, despite the burden of top weight. Highly tried after winning on her Doncaster debut, she spoiled her chance on three subsequent runs by getting warm in the preliminaries and then racing far too keenly. The fact she has been kept in training suggests that her owner Sir Robert Ogden believes she can fulfil her promise this season and the switch to David O’Meara, who did fantastically well with the same owner’s Amazing Maria, looks a good move too. The North Yorkshire trainer has found some form in the last week or so and it’s interesting that he is dropping his new acquisition back to a mile considering she appeared to stay 1m2f well. Given her free-going style, that decision may prove dividends and she doesn’t look too badly treated on a mark of 98 when you consider that King Of Normandy, whom she had three lengths away in third when winning on her debut, has won off 96 subsequently.
16:00 Lingfield – Betfred Derby Trial Stakes (Listed), 1m3f106y
Aidan O’Brien had 7 of the 17 entries for this and they have been whittled down to just one, Landofhopeandglory, the mount of Ryan Moore. The form of his fourth to Linguistic at HQ on his reappearance was given a boost when that horse was just touched off at Chester on Friday, but even so he looks some way down the Ballydoyle pecking order and is worth taking on. Humphrey Bogart brings just about the best form – a neck second to the smart So Mi Dar at Epsom last time with Chester winner Viren’s Army back in third – but he perhaps lacks the scope of last-time-out maiden winners Across The Stars, Winning Story and the pick, CARNTOP (11/4 Paddy Power).
The latter horse impressed when losing his maiden certificate over a mile at Newmarket last October, building on the promise of his debut third, and looks the type to excel over a trip as a three-year-old. According to his in form trainer Ralph Beckett, who does well in these type of contest, he has been doing everything right at home this spring and, while he may be more of a St Leger type, I fancy he can land this for his royal connections, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
16:15 Ascot – totescoop6 Victoria Cup (Heritage Handicap), 7f
A typically competitive renewal and the fact it’s 8/1 ‘the field’ tells you how difficult it will be to win. William Haggas’ Predominance is favourite at that price and that’s understandable as the four-year-old landed some tidy bets when landing a Haydock handicap last time, despite a difficult passage through the race, and he may be progressive enough to defy a 6lb rise after just five career starts. But I just prefer the chances of the Haydock seventh OUTBACK TRAVELLER, who wasn’t so fortunate in obtaining a clear run and would surely have been in the mix otherwise.
Gelded since last season, he was making his debut for Robert Cowell on that occasion and he looks to have inherited a well-handicapped horse who looks well up to winning a big handicap. It may well be this one as he has a course and distance success on his CV and, unlike several of these, he is clearly best over this specialist trip and won’t be inconvenienced by the forecast ‘good to firm’. The stable form is the clincher for a bet at bet365’s 10/1, with five places available for each-way backers.
If you want another runner to go to war with – not such a bad idea in a race of this nature – then David Barron’s FREE CODE (14/1 BetVictor) should go well from near the bottom of the handicap and having shaped well on his reappearance at the Craven meeting. He too looks a proper 7f horse.
Fancy some free bets? Back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the above races with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4.