Back Thomas Darby at Ascot on Friday
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With the ground riding good to soft at Ascot – I suspect it's closer to good than soft - and no rain forecast, it makes sense to stick with those horses who ideally want a decent surface to show their best.
THOMAS DARBY strikes me as such a horse and the Olly Murphy-trained five-year-old can complete his hat-trick in the class 2 introductory hurdle.
He's favourite after a bumper win at Huntingdon on his racecourse debut in May (form has worked out well) and an impressive success on his hurdles debut in a warm maiden at Cheltenham (good to soft) last month.
Still green on that occasion, he was quite impressive in seeing off Sunday's winner Elixir De Nutz, with some decent types further back, and there should be plenty more to come from him. Richard Johnson keeps the ride.
Champion Bumper tenth Didtheyleaveuoutto was only a narrow winner on his hurdles debut at Fakenham last month, but that track wouldn't have suited him and he should improve, so he is feared most.
Another favourite that should oblige is Nicky Henderson's WENYERREADYFREDDIE in the opening 2m3f novices chase.
A fair sort in limited starts over hurdles, he is proving a far better chaser and, having made smart stayer Lil Rockerfeller pull out all the stops at Uttoxeter in October, was taking advantage of a lenient mark (130) when trouncing his rivals in a handicap run over this track and trip three weeks ago.
He's gone up 15lb for that, which is fair enough, so it's no surprise to see him back in a novice under a penalty. A slick jumper on decent ground - very important to him according to Henderson - he's going to take plenty of stopping here.
Of his rivals, it will be fascinating to see how former Champion Bumper winner Moon Racer copes with these fences now making a belated chase debut at the age of nine. Third over hurdles on his reappearance 15 days ago, he certainly won't lack for fitness.
But he's still risky nonetheless and Ben Pauling's Kildisart, a 142-rated hurdler making his chasing debut, could be the one to chase the selection home.
A £20 double on both selections at current Bethard odds (6/4 & 6/5) pays £110.
- Ascot 1.00, Wenyerreadyfreddie @ 6/5 Bethard
- Ascot 2.05, Thomas Darby @ 6/4 Bethard