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Saturday, 14 February 2015
Balder Succes to prove a point
So then, all eyes will be on today's meetings of which the one at Ascot looks a cracker. There are also meetings a Haydock and Wincanton.
I'm out of touch with novice chase form this season, but the Reynoldstown Novices Chase over 3-mile at 2:05 could prove a wagering opportunity. Paul Nicholls won this race in 2013 with Rocky Creek, and the roll of honour holds a host of good chasers. Today's fav is Virak, but on the formbook suggests that there is not much between him and DEPUTY DAN . When they met in October over 2m4f there was little between them, and over this trip I prefer Deputy Dan, especially at the odds of 100/30 (Bet365, Paddy Power and Stan James).
The "listed" handicap chase over 3-mile at 2:40 could provide a wagering opportunity. Clondaw Knight looked a transformed horse when stepped-up to this sort of trip LTO and even tho' he's been raised 13lbs he is going to be competitive. I'm not sure Carole's Destrier is competitive off a mark of OR142, and I think that the veterans Hey Big Spender and Ballyoliver will give the likely favourite the most to do. The Venetia Williams trained Ballyoliver goes well when racing right-handed and if he can repeat the form of his October win at Carlisle then he'll be tough to beat. With only 6 horses going to post, the 11/1 about Ballyoliver (Ladbrokes and Bet365) looks an eachway wagering opportunity (quarter-odds a place, 1st & 2nd); especially as I was going to make him my selection for Haydock's Grand National Trial race.
The feature race, the Betfair Ascot Chase over 2m5f, looks worthy of the Festival, with a high-class field. At the weights, the obvious fav should be BALDER SUCCES who is top-rated at OR162 and (in my opinion) is about 4lb superior to the 2nd-fav Ptit Zip, who is unbeaten over fences. I don't think they will be troubled by the Irish challenger Ballycasey, who looks outclassed in this. The interesting other runner is Ma Filleule who, if in top form, could benefit from having the 7lb mares allowance. Even so, I'm a form follower, and the best form is that of Balder Succes. Unfortunately for me, I took the 100/30 last night, yet he's 4/1 (Ladbrokes, Bet365 and Betfred) with Ptit Zig at 9/4 and I think those odds are great value as in my opinion he should be the 2/1 fav (I'd have Ptit Zig at 11/4).
At Haydock, The Grand National Trial at 2:55 is the feature race. I remember being here in 2005 when Forest Gunner won, but he was unable to follow-up in the big race at Aintree. I think today's fav Broadway Buffalo will need to find about 7lb of improvement to win this race, and I cannot see him winning what will likely be a gruelling race. The 2nd-fav Monbeg Dude stays all days long, but he's still 6lb over his last winning rating and while I expect him to be placed, I doubt he will win. Benvolio has probably the best recent form in the race, just being headed on the line in the Welsh National. However, he's up 6lb for that and carries top-weight of 11st 10lb, which will prove tough on today's soft ground. I'm going to go out on a limb in this race on a horse who has finally come down to his last winning rating of OR137, and that win was in the Welsh National - MOUNTAINOUS. For a 10yo, he's been very lightly raced and this will be only his 13th chase race. He pulled-up LTO in the Welsh National contested by Benvolio, Monbeg Dude, Benbens and Gas Line Boy, and so he avoided a hard fought race. Today's ground and trip will hold no fears for him, and odds of 20/1 look huge (he was 14/1 for the Welsh National), and he looks great eachway value, especially as trainer Richard Lee has his horses in fine form.
Ascot 2:50 BALDER SUCCES, £20 win at 4/1 (Bet365, Betfred both go best odds guaranteed)
Haydock 2:55 MOUNTAINOUS, £5 eachway at 20/1 (available generally, BOG quarter-odds 1,2,3)
For those who are interested, I have taken 11/4 about SPRINTER SACRE for the Champion Chase.