Horseracing steps up a bit today with a couple of good looking meetings at Ascot and Uttoxeter, and a fair few alert list runners. They are:-
Ascot 2:35 – FOX APPEAL, UP TO SOMETHING, and RAYA STAR
Ascot 3:10 – INVICTA LAKE and VALID REASON
The ground is soft at Ascot, and that usually means that it will be testing. Even so, the quality of racing today cannot be faulted, and the Grade 2 novice hurdle over 2-mile at 2:00pm looks very interesting with 5 of the 6 runners having won LTO. On ratings, the fav Volnay De Thaix is best but the German-bred Irving has only had 2 hurdle races - and won both - so could be a surprise package. I also think the ex-flat racer Prince Siegfried, who was very smart on the flat, could be a big improver today.
The 2:35 is a novice chase over 2m3f, and it looks a cracker even tho' only 4 go to post. Fox Appeal has been unfortunate to meet a decent one in his last couple of starts and has the best form on offer. Raya Star has not looked as good a chaser as he was a hurdler in his 2 starts to date, and as he never got a yard more than 2-mile over hurdles it is not easy to see him staying this trip today. UP TO SOMETHING is the best of the trio from my alert list in my opinion as he'll relish today's soft ground. Finally, you cannot discount the 4th horse in the race Mr Mole, who ran a great chase debut over 2-mile and will appreciate this soft ground, but the 2m3f trip may test his stamina. At the odds, UP TO SOMETHING is the best value at 6/1.
The Ascot 3:10 is a tricky 2m6f handicap hurdle with 12-runners. I'm not sure that this trip on soft ground is what Invicta Lake is looking for, but for VALID REASON who has won over C&D this trip will suit a lot more than the 3-mile he tackled LTO. The soft ground should not pose a problem either and (for me) the main problem's I have is the recent form of trainer and jockey. Neither trainer Dean Ivory, nor jockey Robert Thornton have won a race in the past couple of weeks, and that could be the reason for the decent odds available on VALID REASON. That said, whenever Barry Geraghty comes over from Ireland to ride for Nicky Henderson you have to take note and so Polly Peachum has to be considered, especially as she is so lightly raced. Geraghty has 4 rides today, including Volnay De Thaix (see above) and the fav for the opener, Royal Boy; and I would expect him to win a couple today at Ascot.
Uttoxeter is a fairly ordinary meeting with nothing jumping out at me as potentially good value.
It would be great to send readers off with a winner today, but I am always loathe to wager in a 4-runner race so, that discounts UP TO SOMETHING even tho' the odds are tempting. The 11/1 about VALID REASON makes him an eachway possibility, but there has been a bit of a gamble on Andy Kelly from 13/2 in to 3/1, as well as strong support for Kilmurvy (9/2 from 15/2), so I am not confident enough to suggest a wager.
I'm not sure if I'll be able to issue a blog tomorrow (Saturday 21st) but, if not, I'll wish all readers a very merry Christmas and hopefully I'll be able to give you my annual Boxing Day "yankee" via twitter on Thursday.