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Weekend Watch: Get Ready For The Ascot Thriller


If you can’t get excited about the Clarence House Chase on Saturday (3.35 Ascot), then it is time to find a new sport like Nascar or Croquet. Two unbeaten chasers lock horns, and when you throw in the fact you have last year’s winner First Flow arriving here on the back of a smart success in the Peterborough Chase, you have all the ingredients for a cracker. I think Shishkin is the right favourite and most likely winner, but I am happy to sit this one out and enjoy a thrilling spectacle.

For the bets on the card, SONIGINO could be overpriced at 10/1, running off bottom weight in the 2m3f Handicap Hurdle at 1.45. He has shown some promise on both starts for Paul Nicholls, but carried his head high and awkwardly when fifth on handicap debut at Doncaster last month. The tongue-tie goes on for the first time, and if that has the desired effect, then this unexposed five-year-old could have a lot more to offer eased 3lb from last time. Pedigree suggests a step up in trip should suit, and I think he looks an each-way player for the combination of Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls.

PALMERS HILL arrives on a hat-trick, and can get the job done stepping up in trip at 2.55. The Jonjo O’Neill trained nine-year-old is blossoming nicely, and can follow up his success at this track last month. He’s up 8lb, but looks to be in fine fettle at present and gets the nod from me.

Hunting The Haydock Value

Keep your notebooks at the ready Festival clues too…

Jonbon will be looking to enhance his already lofty reputation and book his ticket to the Supreme by winning the Grade 2 Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at 2.25. Hopefully he does so, and the dream to see the potentially spellbinding clash for the curtain raiser at Prestbury Park in just over seven weeks time will live on!

Looking at the rest of the card, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Ben Pauling trained and Harry Redknapp owned SHAKEM UP’ARRY run a big race in the opener at 12.50. It’s a hot race, but he jumped well when bolting up here last time out, ground will be spot on for him, and the step up in trip should suit.

In the Peter Marsh at 2.35, Royal Pagaille will try and defy top weight and a mark of 163, but I think that might be too much of a tall order. Off a mark of 141 and 10st 4lb, the Dan Skelton trained ALNADAM gets my vote. Underfoot conditions will be spot on for him, and whilst there is a question mark about his stamina, I expect a change of tactics here and I think Bridget Andrews can smuggle him into contention at 14/1.

Time To Hit The Jackpot In The Lingfield Millions

Stamina will be the name of the game with Heavy ground conditions.

The final day of the inaugural meeting hosts some fascinating clashes and I will be looking for a revival from GOSHEN to bounce back with deep ground in his favour. All his wins over hurdles have come on a combination of Soft and Heavy ground, and despite being slightly ‘wrong’ at the weights, I think he is a major player here stepping up in trip with the Gary Moore team in red-hot form.

Also on the card, in the following race I think ITCHY FEET can run a big race for connections. The Olly Murphy trained eight-year-old has been a little bit frustrating, but the combination of 2m6f, testing ground and younger legs can see him in good light. He is a former Grade 1 winner and has the back class to make his presence felt here.

Advice:

Saturday:

Shakem Up’Arry, 12.50 Haydock, 1pt win 4/1 (generally)
Sonigino, 1.45 Ascot, 0.5pts e/w 16/1 (Betfair)
Palmers Hill, 2.55 Ascot, 1pt win 3/1 (bet365)
Alnadam 2.35 Haydock, 0.5pts e/w 16/1 (Betfair)

Sunday:

Goshen, 2.25 Lingfield, 1pt win 9/2 (generally)
Itchy Feet, 3.00 Lingfield, 1pt win 11/2 (generally)