MESSRS Henderson and Nicholls normally dominate all the big races at this time of year, but both trainers have had some disappointments in the past couple of weeks.
It could be all about to change though, as the two powerhouse stables have the top two in the market for tomorrow’s Betfair Chase (3.00pm) and it’s very hard to look elsewhere.
Silviniaco Conti won this race 12 months ago for Paul Nicholls and was still in with a big chance when coming down at the third last in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Haydock suits him, but this is the best Betfair Chase ever staged and he will have to be at his very best to beat this year’s Gold Cup winner.
BOBS WORTH is a remarkable horse. He is seven from seven going left-handed and has never been beaten when hitting the front. I’m not sure if Haydock is his ideal track, but this year’s contest will be more of a stamina test as it is to be run on the wider flat course and the fences are also bigger than before.
The main worry has to be the form of Nicky Henderson’s horses as a few of his runners have needed their first run. However, Bobs Worth has reportedly been working really well and with the going likely to be soft on Saturday I just feel he will outstay his rivals. The 9/4 generally available is a decent price.
Cue Card is a major threat but he is far from guaranteed to stay, while Dynaste needs to step up on what he has achieved so far. Nicholls’ second string Tidal Bay has to be in the mix, especially if the ground deteriorates further, but a place could be his best hope against this opposition.
The preceding Betfair Fixed Brush Hurdle (2.25pm) is a valuable race and it’s no surprise to see David Pipe’s Gevrey Chambertin a warm order following the yard’s four-timer on Sunday.
Pipe has also taken this prize twice in the past three years, but his sole representative isn’t guaranteed to get the trip and is short enough at 6/1 with Coral.
There are plenty of others in the line-up that make some appeal, but I’m going to stick with LIE FORRIT as my sole each-way bet at 14/1. Lucinda Russell took this nine-year-old under her wing last month and a few days later he was winning easily at Wetherby.
That success has pushed him up in the ratings, although he is still feasibly handicapped on his old form. He is a guaranteed stayer who will relish the ground and as long as the years haven’t caught up with him he should go close.
Philip Hobbs is in excellent form at the moment and he can land the first at Ascot this afternoon (1.00pm) with CHAMPAGNE WEST who jumped into the back of a loose horse at Exeter last time, costing him any chance. He is well-regarded and should strip fitter after that run.
The highlight at the track is the Brown Advisory Handicap Chase (3.15pm) where I expect Dr Richard Newland’s NIGHT ALLIANCE to follow-up on his recent Ffos Las romp. He sneaks in at the bottom of the weights and will be very hard to beat.
CHAMPAGNE WEST 1.00pm Ascot (today)
NIGHT ALLIANCE 3.15pm Ascot (today)
LIE FORRIT e/w 2.25pm Haydock (tomorrow)
BOBS WORTH 33.00pm Haydock (tomorrow)