Houblon Des Obeaux – 3.25 Ascot
Saturday’s meeting at Ascot has been a happy hunting ground for the stable of Venetia Williams in recent years and the trainer can continue the trend once again at the Berkshire venue as she has solid chances of taking the three chases on the card with Astigos, Cold March and, in the feature race of the day at 3.25 Houblon Des Obeaux who ran out an easy winner of the three mile contest two years ago.
Still only an eight-year-old, the Panoramic gelding is best caught fresh as the horse’s form figures first time out over the last three seasons reads 1-1-2, with the latter a highly creditable second when trying to concede 6lb to subsequent Grand National winner Many Clouds in Newbury’s Hennessy Gold Cup off a mark of 157 before failing to cope with Coneygree in the Denman Chase and the Betfred-sponsored Gold Cup.
The mount of Aidan Coleman will have to give weight to his 14 rivals in the £100k Grade 3 chase but should still prove hard to beat with conditions to suit. Another eight-year-old, Astigos, represents the stable in the 2m 2f 175y Limited handicap chase at 1.45 and while the gelding has yet to trouble the judge over fences a reproduction of his close second to Generous Ransom at Cheltenham earlier this year should be good enough off what looks a competitive rating of 120.
Like the first two, the third selection – Cold March (2.15) – will be ridden by Aidan Coleman and the ex-French recruit will be having just his sixth start for the stable but has shown steady improvement prior to running in the novices’ handicap at the Cheltenham Festival where, despite being pulled-up, the five-year-old ran well for a long way and it is surely only a matter of time before the son of Early March gets off the mark in this country.
1 Point Win Astigos 11-1
1 Point Win Cold March 14-1
1 Point Win Houblon Des Obeaux 12-1
1 Point each-way treble – Betvictor