We hit the crossbar last weekend with Cheltenian (22/1) and Activial (8/1) who finished second and third in the big handicap hurdle at Newbury. Gutted!
Let’s take our recent good form into another busy weekend to contend with in the constant quest to make Paddy a little poorer. You hear me Paddy?
CLONDAW KNIGHT (2.40pm) did really well for Lucinda Russell when stepped up in trip at Wetherby last time. Tom Scudamore rides and his old man Peter is the other half of the training team. He should go well again IN Ascot’s Listed 3m handicap.
Next up is the Grand National Trial at Haydock nd it won’t be easy for BENVOLIO (2.55pm) to hump top-weight to victory after a 6lb rise for finishing second in the Welsh Grand National.
However, Paul Nicholls’ big race hope is younger than most in this field and open to more improvement than the majority over this trip. I’m sticking with him.
The 2m 3f handicap hurdle at Ascot is tough. Rolling Star is the class act, but he’s been off the track 372 days. The one I like is the novice PADGE (3.15pm) who looked promising when scoring at Taunton last time. He’s young, stays and jumps well and on the up.
Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle has IRVING (3.35pm) as a warm favourite despite some in and out form. He was terrible against Faugheen at Kempton at Christmas – but is obviously better than that and gets another chance.
Do me a favour
Finally, the featured Grade 1 Ascot Chase. Many will fancy Balder Succes who did this column a favour last time. On ratings he is the one to beat, but I’m not sure about him at this distance. Willie Mullins’ Ballycasey often comes up short at the top level – so the one to beat is Paul Nicholls’ PTIT ZIG (3.50pm).
He’s different to most novice chasers as he has plenty of experience at a top level over hurdles. He stays strong and jumps well and will take all the beating.