The first big Saturday of the jumping season, with some top-class racing at Wetherby and Ascot. At Wetherby, the ground will likely be more soft than good-to-soft as there are showers forecast through the day. The main focus will be on the Charlie Hall Chase (G2) at 3:05pm run over 3-miles.
The race-fav is last years winner Cyrname, and if he decides to turn-up then he should easily win this race - but will he come to the party? With odds of 7/4 available, I'd be tempted to bet on 2 in this race: Cyrname at 7/4 and another, just in case. Next best at the race conditions is Shan Blue who won over C&D at this meeting (on the Friday) last year when taking the novice race. He will need to settle better than he has to be involved in this race, and he may be one for another day. So, I'm pushing the boat out and going for the Scottish National winner Mighty Thunder: there's odds of 40/1 available, and Bet365 go 18/1 for 4-places, which looks massive to me.
Earlier on the card at Wetherby, the Mares' hurdle over 2-mile at 1:55pm could well go to Zambella who looks chucked-in back over hurdles in the conditions of this Listed race. Odds of 11/2 (available generally) look fair to me.
The Ascot meeting is one of my early season favourites as the track is a fair one in my opinion and has a good standard of races. The opening novice chase over 2m3f could be one for the notebook: some great prospects in this and one from my alert list if the Gary Moore trained Nassalam.
I will also be looking forward to watching the Listed handicap over 2m1f at 2:45pm: this looks an absolute cracker on paper. Gary Moore could well be in the winners' enclosure again with Editeur Du Gite who looks on the upgrade and well-handicapped on OR140 and I expected this one to be the fav for this race, so odds of 7/1 (there's been a big moved for the Venetia Williams trained Frero Banbou) look very attractive, especially as Skybet go 4-places eachway.
The London Gold Cup Handicap Chase at 3:20pm over 3-miles was won by Vinndication in 2019, and he goes for a repeat today. If he's in the same form as when he chased home Cyrname at Wetherby in the "Charlie Hall" on this day last year, then there's no reason he can't win this again. He may have most to fear from old adversary Jerrysback, who goes well at Ascot and is probably best caught 1st-time-out. At his best, Jerrysback is much better than OR138 and if Hobbs has him firing then he could appear late on the scene and snatch victory. Odds of 7/1 for 4-places look fair to me.