The brilliant ALTIOR is the star attraction on a top weekend of jumps action at Ascot and Haydock.
His presence in the Clarence House Chase has sent chief opposition into hiding and it would be a major shock if he doesn’t make it 12 from 12 as a chaser.
But with Cheltenham looming this may be treated as no more than a prep race and his margin of victory may not be as emphatic as he enjoyed in the Tingle Creek and Desert Orchid. I will be checking out the markets for five lengths or less victory.
Another of Nicky Henderson’s geldings COLONIAL DREAMS has each way squeak in the preceding handicap hurdle at 2.25, with the former course and distance winner available at 10s with Carrigill’s who make BALLYMOY their nap in the same race.
COLONIAL DREAMS ran out of gas after travelling smoothly into contention at Kempton three weeks ago, after a layoff of 227 days, and should come on from the run. The Charles Bishop trained THOSEDAYSAREGONE landed a gamble when making his handicap debut at Wetherby last week but the bookies have spoken and I don’t see any value in him as the 11/4 jolly.
The opener at 1.50 looks a weak Grade 2 and the Paul Nicholls mare IFYOUSAYRUN can walk away with this if connections have been able to correct her tendency to hang to the left, and having the hurdles close against the stands’ rail should be in her favour. Tom Lester’s JESTER JET is back over hurdles and will be the main threat.
Over at Haydock, course specialist CAPTAIN REDBEARD can go one better than last year in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase, having not finished out of the frame in his last six starts at the Lancashire track and in doing so recording two wins.
Not for the first time he found Aintree’s big spruce fences too daunting last time out in the Grand Sefton, but the fact that he went close when badly hampered in a traditionally informative pointer here in November, and at the time of writing he’s an attractive 14/1 punt.
In the Champion Hurdle trial at 2.40 GLOBAL CITIZEN is worth another go after coming up short against Grade 1 opposition at Kempton in December, and Ben Pauling’s seven-year-old looks a progressive sort and if gifted an early lead may be tough to overhaul.
REDICEAN has won his last two starts on the all-weather and is fancied to complete the hat-trick at Lingfield tomorrow (Saturday) in the 1m 4f handicap and defy his new mark of 97. Also on the flat, A SURE WELCOME has a good strike rate for a Class 5 performer and can follow up at Wolverhampton tomorrow night (Saturday) having scored from a wide draw last week in first time blinkers after recent keenly.
BANG ON FRANKIE has been holding his own in some warm company this season including a Cheltenham third behind Thomas Darby and recent winner Elixir De Nutz and it will take a decent horse to deny him opening his account at Exeter on Sunday.