Doom Bar Celebration Mile Betting Tips

Doom Bar Celebration Mile (Group2) Goodwood Saturday – There have been thirty eight renewals of the Celebration Mile since it’s elevation to Group2 status in 1977 and the classic generation, with 23 wins have definitely had the best of the argument. Sir Michael Stoute has trained the winner an impressive eight times, and on five of those occasions it was a 3yo who gained the honours, so his representative this year, Thikriyaat has to be of interest.

A 3yo gelded son of Azamour he has won four of his five races commencing with an All Weather victory over a mile on his sole 2yo appearance. Dropped back to seven furlongs for his reappearance at Newmarket in April, he won gamely from Tabaarak, who won next time out. Stepped up to Cl1 level for his next race, (7f Newmarket Gd-Fm May 14) he won again in solid workmanlike fashion. In his next contest he was sent off an 8/1 shot in the highly competitive Jersey Stakes (7f Sft) at the Royal Meeting. Despite a difficult passage he finished a highly commendable second, (beaten 2 1/2L) to the subsequent Deauville Group1 winner, and the close third to the Gurkha in the Group1 Sussex Stakes, Ribchester. Stepped back up to a mile over Saturday’s course and distance, (Gd-Fm) twenty nine days ago, he won again in his hallmark, tough, workmanlike style, and this doughty competitor, who seems to handle most conditions, looks the type who will be hard to beat at the weekend.

Clive Cox won this last year with a progressive 3yo, Kodi Bear, and is trying for a repeat with a similar type in Zonderland. This son of Dutch Art won a listed race at Sandown, (1m Gd-Fm) in May, and was then pitched in at the deep end when asked to tackle Group1 company in the Prix Jean-Prat at Chantilly six weeks later. He finished an abysmal eighth of nine, out the back, but showed he was back on track next time, when winning a Salisbury Group3 (1m Gd-Fm). The form doesn’t amount to a great deal but it does show the Cox contender is going the right way and suggests the Chantilly race can be ignored.

Richard Hannon’s admirable 5yo Toormore’s score is two wins and a place from four Goodwood appearances, and he put up yet another fine course performance last time, when finishing fourth to The Gurkha in the Sussex Stakes thirty one days ago. Both his course wins have been over 7f, but having won a Group2 contest over Sandowns stiff mile there are no stamina doubts. One of the leading two year olds of his generation, and a winner of the Group1 National Stakes at the Curragh, Toormore is still an entire, and connections must entertain hopes of this son of Arakan joining the stallion ranks when he eventually retires from the track. It will come as no surprise to see him involved at the finish so long as “firm” doesn’t appear in the going description, as he hasn’t won on ground faster than good.

Another contender at the weekend who would prefer good or softer ground is the William Haggas trained 4yo colt Hathal. Bought at the “Breeze-Ups”for the hefty sum of 320,000gns, he has yet to justify his mega price tag, but did show signs in his last two runs, that suggest it might be in the right ballpark. He went down to My Dream Boat by 2 1/2L in a 1 mile York handicap (Aug 21 2015) when giving the winner 7lbs, but the subsequent career of the victor has shown what a good performance that was, as My Dream Boat is now rated fully 30lbs higher. Hathal went on to take a Newbury listed race four weeks later (Sep 18 2015 7f Sft) but has been off the course since. It is a big ask to expect the Haggas horse to win as competitive race as this after a break of 344 days but his talented trainer is a past master at producing them at their best after a long absence, and it will not be a great surprise to see Hathal repay another slice of that large purchase price.

Having won the Group3 Diomed Stakes in June 2015, the Group2 Summer Mile the following month and finished a close second to Solow in the Group1 Sussex stakes a few weeks later, the future looked bright indeed for Peter Chappell-Hyam’s now 5yo, Arod. However in his next five races the wheels seem to have come off, and apart from a respectable display on his reappearance, the rest has been very disappointing. However the stable has been going through a prolonged period of underperformance which has to end sometime, and they obviously haven’t given up on their talented son of Teofilo. Certainly if this 5yo entire could bounce back and repeat his fine performance in last years Sussex Stakes he would be a danger to all.

Selection: Thikriyaat

E.W. : Toormore

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2000 Guineas Betting Preview 1 mile Newmarket Saturday

Aidan O'Brien

On breeding the Aidan O’Brien trained Gleneagles stands out. He is a full brother to last years Irish 1000gns heroine Marvellous, and if he does win on Saturday his dam Youresothrilling, will have achieved the amazing feat of producing two classic winners with her first two foals.

The inaugural running of this first classic of the year, was in 1809, and it has a roll of honour which reads like a who’s who of thoroughbred racing. Historically, the 19th century handler John Scott, with seven victories, has been the most successful trainer, his final win coming via The Marquis in 1862. It is an awfully long time for a record to stand, but Irish maestro, Aidan O’Brien would seem to have strong prospects of equalling it in this years renewal, where he is triple handed, with Gleneagles, Ol’ Man River, and Highland Reel.

On breeding Gleneagles stands out. He is a full brother to last years Irish 1000gns heroine Marvellous, and if he does win on Saturday his dam Youresothrilling, will have achieved the amazing feat of producing two classic winners with her first two foals. She had plenty of speed, winning the Cherryhinton at Newmarket as a 2yo, and is a sister to the toughest horse of his generation, Giant’s Causeway, (2nd 2000gns, and winner of five Gp1 races between 1ml and 1m 2f). By the outstanding stallion Galileo, ( sire of the brilliant Frankel, who took this in 2011, and Australia and New Approach, who both went close) Gleneagles could not be better bred for the weekends task. He made his racecourse debut in a 7f maiden at Leopardstown last June, finishing 4th, beaten 3L. He upped his game 3 weeks later taking a 7f Curragh maiden by 2 1/2L, and progressed to win the Gp3 Tyros stakes, eliciting the interesting comment from his trainer that he had “been still babyish and would improve a good bit”. He looked more the finished article, when winning the Gp2 Futurity at the Curragh 4 weeks later, and confirmed his progress when taking Ireland’s premier 2yo contest the National Stakes over 1ml at the prohibitive odds of 1/3. Sent to France for his last race, the Gp1 Prix Jean-Luc Legardare, He was quite impressive, showing a nice turn of foot to win cleverly by1/2 L, only to loose the race in the stewards room afterwards. He is one of those animals who does just enough to win, and with Ryan Moore in the plate, looks a very worthy favourite.

Second in the market at around 6/1, is the Andre Fabre trained Territories. This Invincible Spirit colt was the principle sufferer in the Prix Jean-Luc Goddard, behind Gleneagles and was duly promoted from 3rd to 2nd. He upheld the form when winning a Gp3 on his reappearance at Longchamp very comfortably on April 12th, and coming from this stable, who won with Pennekamp (1995) and Zafonic (1993) his chance must be respected. However, despite the outcome of the inquiry after the ” Luc-Goddard”, this observer feels the best horse finished in front and will do so again on Saturday.

The Richard Hannon trained Estidhkaar has won three of his six starts, and having sustained a hairline fracture when going off the 11/8 fav for last years Dewhurst Stakes, must be considered. He ran a fine race in the 7f Greenham stakes on his reappearance, finishing 2nd, a nk behind Muhaarar. Good paddock judges felt the race was needed, and considerable improvement could be expected. However there must be serious doubts about his ability to stay a mile at the highest level. His sire, Dark Angel, was a precocious 2yo who didn’t race at three, and whose best progeny have been sprinters. His unraced dam also has a lot of speedy influences in her pedigree, so perhaps the jury will have to remain out for the present.

Aidan O’Brien’s twice raced Montjeu colt, Ol’ Man River, who cost an eye watering €2,850, 000 as a yearling is attracting some interest and is a best priced 8/1 at the time of writing. He has won both his races (1ml) and like his stablemate has a pedigree to die for. His dam Finsceal Beo is one of only two fillies to have pulled off the English/Irish 1000gns double, and his sire is legendary. However it has to be said that while he has won both his starts, the form hasn’t worked out, and his style of racing would suggest that he will be suited by further.

Charlie Hills, who’s Muhaarar won the Greenham is quite bullish about his Dutch Art colt Dutch Connection. Having stayed on nicely to bag a York Gp3 (7f) He travelled to Ireland to take on Gleneagles in the Gp1 National Stakes. He ran very freely, and in the circumstances and did well to finish 2 1/2L third. Hills feels that Saturday’s likely strong gallop is what the colt needs, and that his recent racecourse workout at the Newmarket Craven meeting, was just what was required to bring him to his peak.

The Sir Mark Prescott trained Celestial Path is of interest. He hails from a family containing many outstanding milers, and as a son of Footstepsinthesand, is a grandson of the great Giants Causeway. He certainly looked the business when trotting up in a listed race at Haydock last September, but was disappointing when only managing 3rd in the Racing Post Trophy six weeks later. Perhaps he was over the top, or unsuited by the soft ground, so given good or faster ground at the weekend, he is another worth considering.

Selection: Gleneagles.

E.W. : Dutch Connection.

BetBright Grimthorpe Chase Doncaster Saturday (3m2f)

BetBright Grimthorpe Chase Doncaster Saturday. (3m2f)

Tim Easterby will be trying to maintain his 100 % record in the race with the 9yo Trustan Times

Run as a Grand National Trial, it has produced three winners of the Aintree showpiece, Ben Nevis, Corbiere, and Amberleigh House, all going on to their place in racing’s hall of fame after winning here. It requires a touch of class to carry big weights in this with only two, the very useful Cloudy Lane, and Grey Abbey, managing to win with more than 11st in the plate in the last ten runnings. Nine of the winners in the last decade have been aged eight to ten with an eleven year old also collecting. Recent form is important, with nine of the last ten winners managing at least a fourth place in their previous race. Doncaster, on the face of it, is not a testing course, but handicap chases here tend to be run at a fair clip and if they go for home early, which they very often do, it can be a stamina sapping last four furlongs, so an ability to stay is of paramount importance.

While the older animal has fared better statistically, it is worth noting that none of the last ten winners had contested more than thirteen handicap chases. Donald McCain and Keith Revely are the only two of Saturday’s trainers to have hit the target in the last ten years, but Tim Easterby did win with the only runner he has ever had in the race, Skillwise, (2002). Venetia Williams can be considered unlucky not to be on the score sheet as her Pentiffic fell at the last three years ago, and Renard finished third for her last year. Favourites have a poor record with only one obliging in the past decade, but it hasn’t been a race for big outsiders either, Night In Milan (14/1) being the only winner outside the top five in the betting in the same period. So what of this years renewal?

Tim Easterby will be trying to maintain his 100 % record in the race with the 9yo Trustan Times,his first runner in the contest for thirteen years, and if the gelding can recapture his form of last April when a close third in the Scottish National, He would have excellent prospects of doing so. The 9yo hasn’t shown much since the Scottish race,but there have been excuses. The stable has been very badly out of form since last September, but has recently staged a renewal and the winners are beginning to flow. Trustan Times should certainly not fail on the stamina front,and considering he is one of only four in the field ( the others being Across the Bay, Wayward Prince, and Carlito Brigante ) to have been successful at CL1 level he looks quite well treated off a mark of 138 on Saturday. Well worth considering!

Mark Walls’ very talented ex point to pointer Theatre Queen, is of definite interest. A winner of six of her seven starts between the flags, the 8yo Kings Theatre Mare transferred all her ability to the racecourse when winning her first hunter chase, at Cheltenham. Her second appearance confirmed the good impression made, when hosing up in the highly competitive final of the champion novice hunter chase at Stratford. She reappeared at Taunton at the end of December with high expectations, but disgraced Herself, refusing to race. However all was forgiven next time, when equipped with a hood at Ludlow, she was much more amenable and finished a respectable second to a well handicapped animal in Tony Star off a mark of 125. This mare who like many of her gender, come to themselves in the spring, is bound to be much better suited to the galloping nature of Doncaster and the two extra furlongs to travel on Saturday, and is shortlisted with her nice racing weight of 10st2lbs. (Including M.Walls 5lb claim)

Last years winner off a mark of 136, Night In Milan, clearly enjoys the South Yorkshire air as he has won twice, and been placed three times from his seven course appearances. He finished an honourable third, albeit beaten nearly ten lengths, here, off Saturday’s mark of 146, over an inadequate 3miles, five weeks ago, and will certainly require a best ever performance to defy Saturday’s impost of 11st10lbs. However this properly bred National Hunt horse may well be up to the challenge and is not easily dismissed.

Charlie Longsdon’s Drop Out Joe looks interesting. A 7yo,with only three outings over the larger obstacles, his credentials for this aren’t immediately obvious. However he has jumped around Carlisle, ( won 2 1/2m ch sft) Cheltenham, ( 3rd btn 4l and25l by Kings Palace and Sausalito Sunrise 3m1/2f) and last time put in a remarkable performance at Ascot ( 2m51/2f gd/sft dec 20 ) where, virtually tailed off at the 13th, he ran on to such effect that he was only a shd and a hd behind the second horse, the very useful Thomas Crapper, at the finish. The performance of a stayer! Of definite interest if this 131 rated hurdler, assessed at 132 on his handicap debut turns up at the weekend.

Ian Williams’ Super Duty’s last appearance in a steeplechase was the 2013 Hennessy, where he ran off a mark of 148. Sidelined for thirteen months, he made his comeback in a 3ml 1f hurdle at Wetherby four weeks ago, and proved his wellbeing when finishing 6th in a truly run race. If he retains his old ability he doesn’t look badly treated off his mark of 141 on Saturday, and is worth considering.

Rebecca Curtis’ Champagne Rian put up an improved performance when winning a Cl4 chase ( 3ml sft jan 23 ) over the course, off a mark of 112. Raised 9lbs the 7yo has it all to do in a much better race, but lots of improvement can be expected, as that was only his third attempt over fences, and coming from this talented handler it would be no surprise to see this gelding with his featherweight, who is out of a Strong Gale mare ( should appreciate anticipated better ground at the weekend )involved at the business end.

Selection: Trustan Times

E.W.: Theatre Queen

Racing Betting Tips Preview Betfred Mobile Heroes Handicap Hurdle Sandown

David Pipe Trainer

David Pipe’s Batavir heads the market at around 5/1, and certainly looks the pick of his two runners, as the second string Taj Badalandabad seems better suited by shorter than Saturday’s test.

Having been successful in three of the last ten renewals, Paul Nicholl’s two candidates bear close inspection. Last time out his 6yo Silsol ran as well as could be expected, when finishing 5th, (btn 18l) behind Rock on Ruby and co, at Cheltenham on New Years Day. Prior to that he had looked very progressive, winning three races in a row, culminating with a victory at Newbury off a mark of 144.

This was fully 20lbs higher than his previous handicap win off 124 at Ayr in April. Now raised to a mark of 151, one feels He can still be competitive, as stamina shouldn’t be an issue, (has won over 2m6f Newton Abbot) and is one for the shortlist. Nicholl’s other runner, the ex French 5yo Rothman is interesting. On only his 2nd racecourse appearance, in testing ground, he collected a £12,000 first prize at Pau in the French provinces, last January. He disappointed, when odds on for his British debut at Newton Abbot in April, and further disaster followed when falling at the first on his seasonal reappearance in November. He showed considerably more promise last time at Taunton finishing 4th 5 3/4l behind Pull The Chord. Although a 5yo has failed to win this over the last decade four have been placed, so coming from this yard, and with his featherweight of 10st1lb it would be no surprise to see him involved at the business end on Saturday.

David Pipe’s Batavir (also engaged Welsh Champion Hurdle Saturday) heads the market at around 5/1, and certainly looks the pick of his two runners, as the second string Taj Badalandabad seems better suited by shorter than Saturday’s test. Batavir, a French bred 6yo has been highly progressive since making his British debut at the end of November. He has collected a cl3 hurdle at Ascot (Dec19th 2m6f sft) of a mark of 119, and followed up seven days later with a win in a cl2 at Wincanton off 125 (2m6f gd/sft). Raised another 7lbs for Saturday, he still looks well treated, and has a nice racing weight of 10st7lbs. He is also entered in the Welsh Champion Hurdle (2 1/2mls) on Saturday, but the right handed track and distance of the Sandown race should be much more in his favour, so presumably he will be heading in the Esher direction at the weekend. Definitley one for the short list!

Neil Kings highly consistent 7yo Saffron Wells, ran one of the best races of his career, over the Sandown course last March ( 2m4f cl1 ) where he finished a staying on second on soft ground off a mark of 126. Back to the scene of that sterling performance it isn’t difficult to envisage him running another good race, but it has to be said, that despite failing to hit the back of the net since, the handicapper has been relentless, and he is now racing off a mark of 135.

Harry fry’s Polamco is another with a progressive profile. A winner of his last two races he is only 4lbs higher than last time, where he had Saffron Wells 2 3/4l back in third. ( Dec2 Newbury 2ml 5f ). He did race very freely, so ridden with more restraint on Saturday, although 3lbs worse of with Saffron Wells, he must have excellent prospects of confirming the form.

Despite mistakes three out and at the last, Emma Lavelle’s 6yo Junction Fourteen got to within 7l of Batavir at Wincanton, and is now 7lbs better off. He also holds another of Saturday’s contenders, Little Boy Boru on Newbury running in November, so it would be no surprise to see this son of Kings Theatre getting involved.

Fourth of four doesn’t seem like much of a recommendation, but the race that Foryourinformation finished last in at Newbury in November worked out extremely well, with the three animals ahead of him all winning next time out. The third horse that day, Tea For Two ( who was receiving 2lbs ) and 2l ahead of him, absoloutely hosed up in a cl1 handicap at Kempton by 16l and 1l from Little Boy Boru and Saffron Wells. A strict interpretation of the form would give Rebecca Curtis’s lightly raced 6yo every chance on Saturday, but he is more likely to take up his engagement in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.

Of the Longsdon two runners I prefer the stoutly bred Harristown, ( by Bering out of a Sadlers Wells mare ). So far he has been campaigned at shorter distances, and is bound to be suited by Saturday’s step up in trip. He wasn’t stopping last time out over 2m3 1/2f on testing ground at Lingfield where he was just held by Lightentertainment, who has gone in again since. He seems to handle heavy ground particularly well, so any deterioration in conditions would be in his favour.

Selection: Batavir.

EW : Harristown.

Racing Betting Tips Betfred Classic Chase At Warwick

Shotgun Paddy

Last years winner, Shotgun Paddy is only 4lbs higher this time round so must be seriously considered.

First run as the Classic Chase in 2004, it originally was called the Warwick National Chase. With 3m 5f to travel and 22 of Warwicks tricky fences to negotiate it is not a race for the faint hearted and is a contest on the schedule of many Grand National aspirants. Interestingly no horse has managed the double to date. Weight has been no bar to success with four winners shouldering more than 11st in the past decade. There have been no winners younger than seven and the 11yo D’Argent has been the oldest animal to win in the same timespan. Alan King and Paul Nicholls have both trained two winners, with Colin Tizzard, Emma Lavelle, and Venetia Williams on the scoresheet once. Experience while desirable, is not essential. Baron Windrush and Eurotrek, winners in 2005 and 2006 had only competed in ten chases between them, and last years winner, Shotgun Paddy, was having only his fourth outing over the larger obstacles.

Philip Hobbs’s Return Spring with only three runs in chases has a somewhat similar profile in this years renewal, and at the time of writing heads the market at 5/1. A latecomer to chasing, he has performed with credit in his last two races. Last time he ran third to the highly promising Kings Palace and his own stable companion Sausalito Sunrise at Cheltenham in December, having previously got the better of Highland Retreat in a 3ml novices chase on heavy ground at Exeter. However both races were four runner affairs, so it remains to be seen how he copes with Saturday’s large field. On the plus side judging from his breeding ( by Vinnie Roe out of a Supreme Leader mare ) and his racecourse appearances, he is all about stamina, so should be well served by Saturday’s likely conditions.

Last years winner, Shotgun Paddy is only 4lbs higher this time round so must be seriously considered. In last years renewal he beat that hardy old warrior Carruthers, ( 11lbs better off this year ) by 6l and went on to run a marvellous race in the 4ml amateur chase at the Cheltenham festival going down by a hd to Midnight Prayer. Brought along slowly by his excellent trainer, Emma Lavelle, he was having only his second run since Cheltenham, when nearly capsizing at the 2nd in the Welsh National. He was pulled up five fences later, and in view of the awful ground this may well have been a blessing in disguise. Definitley one for the short list!

Martin Keighley’s Benbane Head ran a fine race four weeks ago. The evergreen 11yo stayed on strongly up the Cheltenham hill to draw clear of the well backed favourite The Ould Lad to win by 9l off a mark of 127. He is up a quite severe looking 8lbs on Saturday, but will have the benefit of Conor Shoemarks 3lbs claim. While he did win a bumper on heavy ground, testing conditions, one feels would be against him.

Oliver Sherwood’s Global Power has a nice racing weight of 10st7lbs and looks well treated. Having his first run for 12 months, and probably needing it he was beaten 7l by Ballyoliver at Carlisle. He is 6lbs better off on Saturday so must have good prospects of reversing the form, particularly as he improved again to run Theatrical Star to a nk at Fontwell despite making a mistake at the last. Given testing conditions at the weekend he is well worth considering.

Alan Kings 2011 winner, the 13yo West End Rocker is another defying old Father Time. He showed that he still has what it takes when winning a veterans race when ploughing through the mud at Lingfield in December off a mark of 135. Despite a 4lb rise he is only 6lbs higher than 2011 and as his trainer reports him to be in top condition he is another to consider.

Venetia William’s 10yo Rigadin de Beauchene has to defy a 21lbs higher mark than when successful in 2013. He has not run for nearly nine months but did win a cl1 gd3 chase at Haydock last Febuary very easily off a mark of131 after a similar break. He is obviously an animal that goes well fresh but having been pulled up in four of his last races and now racing off 143 he is hard to recommend. Perhaps the stables best chance is with their other runner Ballyoliver.

Selection: Shotgun Paddy.

E.W : Global Power.

Racing Betting Tips 32Red Casino Handicap Chase

Racing Betting Tips 32Red Casino Handicap Chase

Paul Nicholls’ Unioniste is the Oddsguru racing tip to land the spoils at Sandown.

After such an intense period of high class racing Saturday’s fare comes as something of an anticlimax. However the finale at Sandown, a class 2 handicap chase over 3ml 1/2f with a guaranteed pot of £50,000. Promises to be a highly competitive and interesting affair. Favourite backers should beware as the ” jolly ” has failed to hit the back of the net over the last decade. Weight has been significant in the same period with no animal carrying more than 11st 6lbs to victory. Age has not been significant, with 7yo’s to 11yo’s winning. No stable has dominated over the past ten years, but the currently high flying Venetia Williams has had a winner and a placed horse from only seven runners. Gary Moore’s only entry in the same period was placed and the Nicholls yard has managed two places from ten runners. Philip Hobbs has had two placed from only three runners. So what of this years renewal?

Having won last year with the 7yo Katenko, Venetia is going for the double with the 11yo veteran Relax. A course and distance winner last Febuary, following a nine month absence, he reappeared at Chepstow four weeks ago, and acquitted himself well, finishing fourth 15l behind Rebecca’s Choice. Now racing off a mark 2lbs lower than Chepstow he is well worth considering, particularly if conditions deteriorate as he handles testing going well.

Despite some indifferent jumping, Paul Nicholls 8yo Unioniste made a highly satisfactory reappearance in the Hennessy Gold Cup at the end of November. Considering he was struggling in last place after fourteen fences he did well to finish in sixth, running on strongly through beaten horses. As this was his first outing for nearly eight months considerable improvement can be expected. He has yet to win going right handed but there is no reason to think that he will be inconvenienced by Sandown. The handicapper has been generous in dropping him 3lbs since Newbury so it is not difficult to imagine him running on strongly up the Sandown hill, so definitley one for the short list.

Leading trainer at Sandown Nicky Henderson runs top weight Triolo D’Alene. He looked to be a chaser going places when winning two good races in April 2013 and was as short as 10/1 when running in the Gold Cup where he finished 10th. He got as far as Beechers the second time when pulled up in the National,and was diagnosed with a breathing problem. He again failed to complete on his reappearance in the Hennessy, but as it was his first run since Aintree perhaps he can be excused, and coming from this yard it would be no surprise to see this classy animal involved on Saturday.

Winner of his last two races Philip Hobbs’s Bertie Boru is of interest. He stayed on well in a truly run race at Newbury ( 2ml 6 1/2f sft ) to suggest that Saturday’s trip will be well within his compass. Relativley lightly raced, he has been raised 6lbs for his Newbury efforts,but this still leaves him with a nice racing weight of 10st7lbs. As all ground comes alike to him, and he is effective going right handed, his prospects of bringing up the treble on Saturday look rosy.

Bob Buckler’s 8yo Tinker Time is two from two over the larger obstacles. He ran a fine race on his reappearance ( his first run over fences ) to beat Bucks Magic, jumping well over Kempton’s tricky obstacles. He went on to surprise much better fancied opponents in a conditions race at Newbury sixteen days ago beating Masters Hill and Easter Day. The handicapper has raised him 11lbs but it is unlikely we have seen the best of this very progressive animal. ( Interestingly, the conditions of Saturday’s race state that a horse such as Tinker Time, who has competed in only two chases, in order to qualify to run, must have been placed in the first four in both races. )

Tom George’s ex Irish What’s Happening with his light weight of 10st3lbs is worth a second look . He ran well last time over 3ml 5 1/2f at Sandown finishing third. He probably didn’t quite stay that day and will be better suited by Saturday’s distance. A winner of two chases,both going right handed in his native country, the weekend test may well be right up his street.

Course and distance winner Firm Order is stepping up in class, but with only 10st2lbs to shoulder he must be considered. Last time out he stayed on well to beat the 13/8 fav Handy Andy over course and distance, and has only been raised 3lbs, so it would be no surprise to see him involved at the business end.

A reproduction of vino Griego’s Aintree form in April, when just run out of it by Duke of Lucca, with Unioniste back in eighth would give him every chance. However he ran so poorly in the Hennessy, despite his excellent trainers good Sandown record, is passed over.

Selection: Unioniste

E.W : What’s Happening

Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle Betting Tips Ascot

Nick Henderson race horse trainer.

Our racing guru fancies Nicky Henderson’s Sign of a Victory to go close in Saturday’s Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle.

Since its inception in 2001 there have been only nine renewals of this highly competitive race at its Ascot venue. It was abandoned in 2009 and 2010 due to snow, and was run elsewhere in 2004 and 2005 due to course redevelopment. Nicky Henderson has been the most successful trainer with three wins. Five year olds have been the winning most age group with five successes. Two six year olds, one seven year old, and one four year old have also hit the back of the net. This stat may be a little misleading as four year olds have been very much to the fore in recent runnings. The market hasn’t been a great guide with only one favourite (Henderson’s Jack The Giant 2007) obliging, and two 25/1 shots winning.

Harry Fry’s 4yo Activial leads the market at 5/1 having been backed in from twice these odds since last weekend. He was a convincing winner of the Adonis hurdle at Newbury last Febuary, but then disappointed in his next engagement at Aintree in April where he was probably unsuited by the sharp track. However the Newbury form has worked out well with the runner up Commissioned ( beaten 3 1/2L ) winning twice this season, achieving a rating of 140, making Activial’s Mark of 137 on Saturday, look rather generous. His lack of a recent pipe opener and indeed experience ( has had only 3 hurdle races), may count against him, but with the very talented Mr Fry in charge and carrying the nice racing weight of 10st10lbs he is short listed.

With his three previous winners Nicky Henderson certainly knows what is required, so his very promising 5yo Sign of a Victory is worth serious consideration. In only his fifth race over hurdles ( Ascot 2ml. Nov1 ) he came home on the bridle in what was a truly run race,of a mark of 139. He has been raised what appears a quite harsh 11lbs to 150 but it will be no surprise if he ends the season racing off a considerably higher mark. Ground conditions on Saturday are a concern as he had been an intended runner in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle but was taken out because of the soft ground. However I can’t see Saturday’s likely gd/sft being a problem for this son of Kayf Tara out of a Bob Back mare, and unless conditions really deteriorate should have every chance.

Having performed with credit in a number of top handicaps Gordon Elliott’s 5yo Bayan is already a seasoned campaigner. He ran a great race to be third in the Coral Cup at the Festival, and improved again,coming second in the Galway Hurdle. However the handicapper has had his say and he is now 8lbs higher than Cheltenham. He probably needs testing conditions at two miles so if it does come up soft he is well worth a second look.

Dan Skelton’s 5yo Galileo gelding Shelford has won his last two races and is another who wouldn’t mind it testing on Saturday. Rated 89 on the flat he has made a highly successful transition to the winter game and was quite impressive in his first handicap ( 2 1/2 mls sft Chepstow ) at the end of October, where off a mark of 127 he made all and kept on very gamely to beat Aubusson by 3/4L. As the runner up went on to win the £80,000. Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock, Shelford’s 7lbs rise seems more than fair. He travels well in his races so it would be no surprise to see him leading the field over the last on Saturday.

Garde La Victoire and Clondaw Warrior are closely matched on Cheltenham form in November and the progressive Hobbs horse is fancied to come out on top again. Clondaw Warrior is 3lb better of for the 2L he was beaten but Garde La Victoire has the more progressive profile and indeed must have every chance of being involved at the business end.

Tony Martins 4yo Pyromaniac finished a well beaten 3rd at Cheltenham in November but had shown considerable potential in his previous two runs at Listowel and Killarney. Coming from this stable, this very lightly raced and unexposed animal could easily spring a surprise.

Jonjo O’Neill’s good flat horse Goodwood Mirage showed he was getting his act together when winning at Wetherby in October. Quietly fancied for the Triumph hurdle, he was brought down at the second and is definitely one to note if there is any market confidence.

Selection. Sign of a Victory.

E.W. Shelford.