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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Top Notch day of racing

What a beautiful "Spring" day to go racing on! When I took the dog for his morning walk at 7am today the weather was glorious.  We have 3 meetings at Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton so plenty of racing to choose from.  My selections on the blog have not had much luck these past couple of Saturdays, so I'm hoping for a change of fortune today.

At Ascot, small fields have stifled the "value" available, as I don't want to place a wager at odds under 9/4.  The feature race at Ascot is the Grade 1 Ascot Chase over 2m5f at 3:35pm.  Old warrior Cue Card won this race last year, and he also won the race in 2013 on his way to Festival glory.He may just have one more good race in him.  However, he will need to be on the top of his game to win this race as the 7yo's Coney Island, Top Notch and Waiting Patiently all hold top claims.  For me, the horse with the "proven" form is TOP NOTCH and with Nicky Henderson in tip-top form recently he is the horse that the others have to beat.

Earlier on the Ascot card at 2:25pm there is a 3-mile Class 1 (Listed) handicap chase with just 6 runners going to post as Gold Present is a non-runner.  The betting has been re-juggled and the new fav is Another Venture, but I think that horse will need to find more improvement to hold off HOLLY BUSH HENRY who is in top form and goes well for jockey James Bowen.  I thought the horse was a little unlucky not to win LTO when meeting the unexposed chaser Ballydine and he can go one better today. He has nothing to fear from the other 4 runners in the race who are all well exposed chasers. To me odds of 7/2 look good value as I think the horse should be the fav and trading at about 9/4.

At Haydock the ground is heavy, and that will really sort the runners out at the Northern venue for the feature race, the Grand National Trial at 3:15pm.  Blaklion was beaten in this race last year when racing off OR152, so I really cannot see him winning off OR161.  In my opinion a 13lb rise from OR135 to OR148 was far too much for The Dutchman for his win here at Haydock LTO. The "joker" in the pack is Wild West Wind who could be well-in running off OR144 and he will certainly relish the mud - but his jumping can expose him. At just 3/1 he is too short in the market for me. SILSOL ran a cracker in the Welsh National considering it was just his 5th chase race, and this top 3-mile hurdler (rated OR158 in April 2016) can go well off OR144 as he has plenty of good form on heavy ground and odds of 9/1 are great eachway value. 

I'm going to leave my selections at that:-
Ascot 2:25pm HOLLY BUSH HENRY @ 7/2 - £10 win
Ascot 3:35pm TOP NOTCH - best odds available are currently 2/1, so try and obtain 9/4 (or longer)
Haydock 3:15pm SILSOL @ 9/1 - £5 eachway (Bet365 offer quarter-odds 1,2,3)

Finally, it is now less than a month to the Cheltenham Festival and the "preview" evenings are being announced and, to get you in the swing of things, Ben Aitken of Narrow the Field has published his essential guide to the Festival  Ten Cheltenham Stats which provides some terrific info.

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