Take Pine Creek to strike at Ascot off low weight for in-form Ferguson

IF WETHERBY are planning any pre-racing entertainment tomorrow, surely they’ll decide to blare Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ through their PA system.

With Long Run and At Fishers Cross both lining up on Charlie Hall Day, this is the first meeting of the season when the big boys come out to play. And I think they’ll both win.

The problem is their price as both are likely to start odds-on, but if the rain arrives to soften the ground further, they’d both be even stronger fancies and you could consider putting them into a double.

There is a decent handicap hurdle at Ascot tomorrow (2.45pm) where Court Minstrel will be well fancied if he takes his place in the line-up following his impressive end to last season. He won’t want the ground to get any softer, though, so I’d rather look at those towards the bottom of the handicap.

Makari is going for a hat-trick, but he’s gone up 20lb for his two victories and, as he’s trained by Nicky Henderson, he is likely to be over-bet. Therefore, the one to be on is PINE CREEK for the in-form John Ferguson.

He was formerly trained by Andre Fabre and was well fancied for the Imperial Cup last March. The ground was bottomless at Sandown that day and although he travelled well he just couldn’t pick up in the closing stages.

I’d expect him to end the season a fair bit higher than his current rating of 130 and he should be an each-way price tomorrow.

Sizing Europe would be a hugely popular winner of tomorrow’s JNWine.com Champion Chase (2.30pm) at Down Royal. The ground in Northern Ireland shouldn’t be too bad, but I have to swerve an

11-year-old who has never won over the trip.

First Lieutenant should go close, although he has always looked better in the spring, and I’m going to back KAUTO STONE to make it three winning reappearances at the track in three years.

He would definitely prefer softer ground but, at 5/1 with Coral, he looks an each-way bet to nothing.

Finally, it’s the BetVictor Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter next Tuesday and the sponsors are offering 6/4 about CUE CARD following up last year’s 26-length win. That is a huge price and I’m sure he’ll go off more like 4/5.

He has to give chunks of weight away, but he is different class to the likes of William’s Wishes, Module and Fago.

■ Pointers…
KAUTO STONE e/w 2.30pm Ascot
(tomorrow)

PINE CREEK 2.45pm Ascot
(tomorrow)

CUE CARD 2.50pm Exeter
(Tuesday)

@BillEsdaile