Trainer Harry Fry saddled the well-fancied Activial to finish third in last season’s Ladbroke Hurdle (3.35pm) and the market suggests that the talented young trainer can go a couple of places better on Saturday.
In-form Fry opted not to give Activial a prep race 12 months ago, but this time brings a race-fit and unexposed Jolly’s Cracked It to Berkshire. He is now as short as 7/2 having traded at 14/1 just over a week ago.
The six-year-old is unquestionably the most likely winner, but represents no value at his current price.
Winner Massagot won in the style of a very good horse over course and distance last month, but has a 12lb hike in the weights to overcome.
Alan King has made no secret of the fact that the horse is suited by a sound surface, so the recent rain is a concern.
The Irish have won two of the last three renewals and hold major claims once more with the likes of Renneti, Waxies Dargle and Sort It Out all declared to take their chance.
Vercingetorix bids to land Gordon Elliott his third Ladbroke in four years, but he has plenty to prove.
It’s RENNETI that really catches the eye for Willie Mullins at 12/1 with Betway after bold showings in both the Cesarewitch and the Greatwood.
The worry is that the six-year-old has a tendency to refuse to start, and he virtually planted at Cheltenham last month.
That said, that was the first time Danny Mullins had ridden him and he will have learnt plenty. He’s a very talented horse and can prove it tomorrow.
As for SORT IT OUT, he is progressing at such a rate of knots that I just cannot leave him out of the equation at 14/1.
Edward Harty’s six-year-old has won three of his last four starts and there is every chance he may still be better than his mark of 144.
The Silver Cup (3.00pm) was won 12 months ago by The Young Master and Neil Mulholland’s six-year-old is back for more.
Sam Waley-Cohen takes the ride for the second time and the pair didn’t get off to the best of starts when the amateur jockey was unshipped at the first in last month’s Hennessy Gold Cup.
The Young Master has solid claims if that hasn’t left its mark, but I’m not sure he’s as well-handicapped as PENDRA.
Charlie Longsdon’s inmate had been a little disappointing prior to his win over course and distance on Halloween.
However, that was an excellent display and marked him down as a chaser to follow in this type of race.
He loves cut in the ground and seemed to build up a good rapport with Barry Geraghty last time. He looks a decent bet at 9/2 with Betway.
Of the others, Fingal Bay has to have a big chance as he ran such a good race in the Hennessy, while Salubrious is interesting, especially now that the Paul Nicholls yard has started to hit some form.
Saphir Du Rheu switches back to hurdles for the second season running in the Long Distance Hurdle (2.25pm).
If he reproduces his World Hurdle second, he’ll be tough to beat, but he had a hard race in the Hennessy.
THISTLECRACK is an improving, underrated horse and is the one to back following his impressive win at Newbury.
Thistlecrack, 2.25pm, Ascot
Pendra, 3.00pm, Ascot
Renneti e/w, 3.35pm, Ascot
Sort It Out e/w, 3.35pm, Ascot