Friday, 15 February 2013

Top class cards at Haydock and Ascot

Haydock and Ascot both stage top class NH cards tommorow with the highlights The Betfred Grand National at Haydock and The Betfair Ascot Chase the most valuable chase run at Ascot worth £150,000 while Wincanton stage The Kingwell Hurdle a renowned Champion Hurdle trial.

Giles Cross last years winner of the Betfred Grand National Trial where he just held off Grand National winner Neptune Collonges bids to follow up last years success where he will come against the winner of this race in both 2010 and 2011 Silver By Nature who makes his long awaited comeback from injury after almost two years off the track and is set to carry top weight which is a huge task against a very strong field that includes the likes of the 1st and 2nd in The Welsh National Monbeg Dude and Teaforfree and Betfred Classic Chase winner Rigadin De Beauchene from the in form Venetia Williams stable. Haydock specialist Cannington Brook also takes his place in the line up but had a gruelling race at Ffos Las two weeks ago so there must be a question mark over whether he has recovered from his exertions in that stamina sapping contest in Wales. Paul Carberry is making the trip over from Ireland again to ride Monbeg Dude who has developed into one of the most improved stayer's in the country this season but both his wins have been at Cheltenham and Chepstow both stiff galloping tracks and his suspect jumping could be his achilles heel here at Haydock but if his jumping does hold up he should be right in the mix at the business end of the race. Teaforfree is saddled with a huge weight 11-11 but meets his old rival Monbeg Dude on better terms than at Chepstow and should be in the shake up. Silver By Nature put up a career best when winning this in 2011 carrying top weight of 11-12 to victory by 15 lengths and a reproduction of that form would make him the one to beat but after a two year lay off its a huge ask for him to comeback from such a long layoff to win this under such a welter burden so Venetia Williams rapidly improving Rigadin De Beauchene off only 10-5 here must be the one to beat here.

The Betfair Ascot Chase sees the reappearance of Finians Rainbow who disappointed here in November on heavy ground then missed the King George on account of the similar conditions on Boxing Day and conditions here are bound to be testing again here so id be siding with Captain Chris who was runner up to Long Run in the King George only being denied in the final strides of the race by the former Gold Cup winner and the drop back in trip here should help him gain compensation of his agonising loss at Kempton. Cue Card could be his biggest threat here after failing to see out the 3m in the King George and drops back in trip but there is still a nagging doubt over his stamina as he never won beyond 2m2f and this trip of 2m5f110y on this stiff track in soft ground could see his suspect stamina exposed so the nod has to go to Captain Chris in this intriging race.

The Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton has always been a important stepping stone to the Champion Hurdle while being a prestigious race in its own right and this years race sees leading Champion Hurdle Zarknada put his Cheltenham credentials on the line and after early season wins both here and in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham he should make it 3/3 for the season here with Alan Kings Raya Star heading the opposition.

The Cheltenham Festival is now under four weeks away and many horses will be having there final run before the Festival tommorow with races like The Reynoldstown Novice Chase, The Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Handicap Chase and Betfair Handicap Hurdle at Ascot and The Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle and The Rendlesham Hurdle offering Cheltenham pointers at Haydock on a very busy day of high class NH action.

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