PAISLEY PARK is the headline act of a fantastic card at Ascot as he bids to become a multiple winner of the Long Walk Hurdle.
Emma Lavelle’s seven-year-old is seeking his seventh straight success tomorrow (Saturday) to join a list of greats including Big Bucks and Baracouda who have more than one Long Walk to their name.
He made his Grade One breakthrough in this renewal last year and on official marks has 14lbs or more in hand on his rivals, so it would be a surprise if he failed to deliver successive titles in this contest for connections.
He had THE WORDS END behind when winning the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury recently and he should confirm that form with Tom George’s charge, who looks set to battle out the runner-up spot with the returning L’AMI SERGE who has well-being to prove after a lengthy lay-off.
With AGRAPART out of sorts, and both PAPAGANA and TOBEFAIR taking big hikes in grade, this looks a relatively poor renewal of this Grade One prize.
Trainer Venetia Williams has hit top form recently and is operating at an impressive strike rate, which could be enhanced by BELAMI DES PICTONS, a 7/2 favourite with Carrigill’s who side with 12/1 shot BLACK CORTON in Ascot’s Silver Cup Handicap Chase (3.00).
BELAMI DES PICTONS’ eye-catching reappearance in Cheltenham’s BetVictor Handicap Chase behind Happy Diva last month, where he stayed on steadily after losing being hampered and losing his place early on, should have helped put him spot on for this. The race has worked out well with third Warthog winning the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup last Saturday and the fifth Magic Saint winning a decent race at Newbury two weeks ago.
In YALLTARI Williams also has a worthy market leader at Haydock in the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase, which is the highlight of what is a potentially classy and competitive card tomorrow (Saturday).
The feature race has a predictably open feel to it, but it is not hard to see last year’s winner DAKLONDIKE playing another leading role in the expectation of a return of some headgear. Only 6lb higher than 12 months ago, he is far from straightforward but loves the mud and trainer David Pipe continues to bang in the winners.
Donald McCain has a handful of entries at the meeting, the most interesting of which could be FIN AND GAME, who has the choice of two options and is expected to go in the opening race rather than a more competitive handicap later on the card, and will have the dependable Lorcan Murtagh up top.
McCain is responsible for the early favourite in the other race via course specialist CHTI BALKO, who returned to form when hacking up at Bangor last time.
An 8lb rise for that success is perfectly understandable, particularly when considering the well-beaten runner-up BURROWS PARK came out and won at Hereford last weekend.
At Newcastle, STONEY RIVER could be a backable price after he finally got his act together over fences last time out with the addition of cheekpieces.
A proper chasing type, the son of Scorpion now gets to tackle three miles for the first time and trainer Katie Scott looks to have found a very winnable race for the promising six-year-old.
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top four. Write Augur on your slip to qualify): BLACK COTTON, Ascot, Saturday, 3.00.
Augur’s best bet:
STONEY RIVER (e/w), Newcastle, Saturday, 12.30.