William Hill ambassador Barry Geraghty gives his thoughts and best bets on what should be an informative weekend of racing from Wetherby and Ascot.
Apple Away (1.15pm) kept improving all last season and put in a fancy performance to beat Maximilian and win the Sefton in Aintree when last seen. She gets the mares’ allowance here, so should go close.
GREY DAWNING fell in that Aintree race, but he was still travelling nicely when he came down. He was another that looked progressive all last season and jumped a hurdle like he would enjoy a fence. He put in a good performance at Warwick to win the Leamington on heavy ground last season, so conditions should be ideal for him.
The Listed juvenile hurdle (2.25pm) doesn’t look like the strongest renewal on paper. I STILL HAVE FAITH won well over this course and distance a few weeks ago and looked like he would improve for the experience. He showed a fair level of ability on the Flat, as he was rated 81, and is a winner of three of his last four starts, so he could be the one to side with.
Shan Blue (3.00pm) looked like he was on the way to winning the Charlie Hall here two years ago before taking a heavy fall at the third last fence. He hasn’t been at his best since then and has spent plenty of time off the track, but if he was to recapture anything like that kind of form then he would be hard to beat. There’s a good deal of forgiveness needed though.
FAMOUS BRIDGE has the age and profile of a horse that’s on the up and he was a course and distance winner last time. Nicky’s [Richards] horses seem to be coming into form and he should run a good race.
The Mares’ Hurdle (1.50pm) looks a strong race. You Wear It Well was good when winning the Mares’ Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham, but I would say she paid the price for that performance when disappointing at Aintree on her next start.
Kateira finished second in that Aintree race but I don’t think that form should be taken literally.
For me LUCCIA didn’t help her chances when running keen and placing third behind You Wear It Well in Cheltenham, but she was still only beaten four lengths by the winner. She was subsequently third over two miles behind Inthepocket at Aintree in another Grade 1. She’s only a five-year-old and I think she’s still a mare with a lot of potential, so I’d take her over You Wear It Well and Kateria.
The West Yorkshire Hurdle (2.25pm) has the look of a veterans’ race, with DASHEL DRASHER and Thyme Hill reappearing. There isn’t an awful lot between them on paper and they would be the two to focus on.
With Thyme Hill having raced over fences most recently, it could affect his jumping – he might just be a little bit sticky – so I would slightly fancy Dashel Drasher. He was so consistent last season, finishing second to Sire Du Berlais in the Stayers’ at Cheltenham.
Age is going to catch up sometime, but being a 10-year-old in a three-mile hurdles race isn’t the worst thing in the world. He’s got some great form and won first time out last season.
A small field line up in this year’s Charlie Hall (3.00pm), but it still looks a good contest. BRAVEMANSGAME was a horse I initially had reservations about, but he really stepped up to the plate last season. On his form from last season, when winning this race and going on to win the King George and finish second in the Gold Cup, he is very difficult to oppose.
Ahoy Senor disappointed in this race last season and was well beaten on his reappearance the year before, so while he has a good level of form, he might need this run.
Gentlemansgame is of interest. He’s only had two runs over fences, as he’s had an interrupted time of it. He beat I Am Maximus at Leopardstown 12 months ago and finished second to Easy Game on his reappearance at Gowran in September. He was also third to Klassical Dream in the Stayers’ Hurdle in Punchestown last year, so he has a good level of form, but he still has a good bit to find with Bravemansgame.
BOOTHILL (2.05pm) had good early season form last year and was a winner over this course and distance when beating So Scottish last November. He was then a good second to Jonbon in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown, before his form tailed off a little. The slight concern with him would be that he wouldn’t want the ground to get too soft. If Ascot escapes the worst of the rain then I would be sweet on his chances.
There’s a nice horse called TELLHERTHENAME who is set to run in the novice hurdle (2.40pm). He was impressive when given a very positive ride to win his point-to-point in Ireland last season and was subsequently sold for £200,000 at the Cheltenham Sale. He was a gorgeous horse at the sales and could be a name to keep in mind.
The following handicap hurdle (3.15pm) is a very open-looking contest. BAD is a horse that I do like. He ran very keen when well fancied for the Fred Winter last season and again raced keenly when finishing behind Blueking D’Oroux at Aintree after that. He was only beaten nine lengths on that occasion though, and I think with a bit more age and experience on his side now he could settle better. I think he’s better than his form figures suggest and he could represent some each way value.
MONBEG GENIUS is a standout for me in the Sodexo Gold Cup (3.45pm). He’s only a seven-year-old and was a horse that progressed rapidly last season, finishing third behind Corach Rambler in the Ultima when last seen and prior to that he had won his last three starts. He looks the type that can take another step up the ladder this season.
Beauport is worthy of respect, especially as he was impressive when winning the Colin Parker in Carlisle on his reappearance last season.
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