ITV’s main channel will cover seven races on Saturday afternoon, three from Ascot and four from Haydock Park, where the feature race is the Grade 1 Betfair Chase and the seasonal reappearance of reigning Cheltenham Gold cup winner A Plus Tard. We have tips for all of the races, the first at 1.50pm and the last at 3.35pm.
3.35pm Haydock - Houston Texas (Nap of the Day)
With conditions to suit and in receipt of weight from all but one of his rivals, Nicky Richards’ progressive chaser is fancied to land the four-timer in the hands of regular partner Sean Quinlan.
1.50pm Haydock - Hitman
If running here rather than Ascot’s Grade 2 1965 Chase, this Graduation Chase should be a fairly straightforward task for the Paul Nicholls-trained Hitman, who has at least 10lb in hand of his three rivals based on current ratings. Should the six-year-old head to Ascot instead, Donald McCain’s Minella Drama could be the one to take advantage.
2.05pm Ascot - L’Homme Presse
Things are complicated with two of the five runners, Hitman and Do Your Job, having other options over the weekend. Whether all five horses go to post or not, this 2m 5f Grade 2 contest looks at the mercy of the 164-rated L’Homme Presse.
Venetia Williams’ charge failed to show his true form behind Ahoy Senor at Aintree’s Grand National meeting. But conditions here look ideal for the mount of Charlie Deutsch who will be hard to beat if in anything like the form which saw the seven-year-old win his first five races over fences.
2.25pm Haydock - Complete Unknown (Longshot)
Run for Oscar, easy winner of the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last month, reverts back to hurdling for this £125,000 handicap. The Charles Byrnes-trained seven-year-old is now a stone higher than when winning at Listowel last September over the smaller obstacles and, despite the 5lb claim of jockey Daniel King, may be vulnerable off a mark of 147.
The Harry Fry-trained Might I and Sam Thomas’s Carlisle scorer of last month, Good Risk At All, have obvious claims. But at a bigger price, the vote goes to Complete Unknown from the in-form stable of Paul Nicholls. Harry Cobden’s mount seemed to relish the testing ground when running out a clear-cut winner of Sandown’s valuable European Breeders’ Fund Paddy Power “National Hunt” Novices’ Handicap Hurdle back in March and should have no trouble handling this longer trip.
2.40pm Ascot - Constitution Hill
Impossible to oppose impressive Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Constitution Hill who is no bigger than 5/4 for next year’s Champion Hurdle. It should be noted, however, that 2017 Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil suffered his first defeat following seven victories over hurdles in this race five years ago.
It will be a major surprise should the same fate befall Nicky Henderson’s charge. But this is a race to watch and learn from rather than a serious betting opportunity. In receipt of 3lb from the favourite, Brewin’upastorm looks like the one for the forecast.
3.00pm Haydock - Bristol De Mai (without A Plus Tard)
Despite a field of only five runners, a fascinating renewal of this Grade 1 staying chase featuring reigning Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard, who stormed home in the race 12 months ago by 22 lengths.
With front runners Bristol De Mai and Frodon in the race, it is fairly easy to predict how the extended 3m 1f contest will pan out in the early stages, with Eldorado Allen, Protektorat and A Plus Tard likely to be held up until the race begins in earnest.
A fluent round of jumping will be needed by all concerned, something which course specialist Bristol De Mai wasn’t able to achieve last year. If Daryl Jacob’s mount was to get into a nice rhythm up front, the grey could give Henry De Bromhead’s favourite more to do on this occasion and is fancied to beat all bar the Irish challenger.
3.15pm Ascot - Edwardstone (Next Best)
After missing Cheltenham’s Shloer Chase last week due to the lively ground, this is now a case of Plan B for the Alan King-trained Edwardstone, whose first major test as a potential Champion Chase contender is likely to come in Sandown’s Tingle Creek Chase in two weeks time.
Despite having to concede 10lb and upwards to his eight rivals in this valuable 2m 1f handicap, I expect Tom Cannon’s mount to prove up to the task, putting the eight-year-old firmly on course to take on the likes of Energumene, Shishkin and Greaneteen in the months ahead.
The Kayf Tara gelding was not at his best when beaten by Gentleman Dee Me at Aintree but had been faultless prior to that, including a comfortable Arkle victory at the festival. Before Midnight should improve for his first run of the season behind Thyme White on the course last month and can turn the tables on Paul Nicholls’ runner.
3.35pm Haydock - Houston Texas (Nap of the Day)
Three-time course winner Lord Du Mesnil has his ideal conditions once again, and following an excellent second at Bangor on his reappearance earlier this month, looks sure to run well. However, the mount of Paul O’Brien will attempt to concede 24lb to the progressive Houston Texas, and that may prove a step too far for the Richard Hobson-trained nine-year-old.
Nicky Richards’ Dylan Thomas gelding is on a four-timer here following three victories at Carlisle, all on soft ground, and has done nothing but improve since being stepped up in trip. Sean Quinlan’s mount gets lumps of weight off all of his rivals bar the exposed If Not For Dylan, and time may show the gelding to be much better than his current rating of 122.
* Odds correct at the time of writing but subject to change.