Alan King’s Trade Fair all set for Ascot hurdling debut

BOTH Ascot and Haydock gear up for big weekends with some decent cards today, although the racing does have a trappy feel to it.

In the 1.20pm at Haydock, KUMBESHWAR has a big chance to continue Alan King’s hot streak. I wouldn’t normally put up a horse that has fallen on two of his last three chase runs but my selection is smart on his day. The soft ground should help and as a Grade One-placed hurdler he should have too much class for his five opponents.

Likely favourite Domtaline is taking a big step back in trip and might just be tapped for toe by the selection.

Michael Buckley, who has enjoyed so much success in recent times with the likes of Spirit Son and Finian’s Rainbow, has another well-regarded sort under his ownership in MINELLA FORFITNESS. He is expected to make a winning debut over hurdles for the formidable Henderson/Geraghty team in the 12.55pm at Ascot.

The son of Westerner won a point-to-point and his first start under rules before finishing seventh in a good Aintree bumper at the Grand National meeting. Against largely moderate looking opposition he should take the beating.

Finally, in the 2.05pm, Close Touch is likely to be yet another warm order for Henderson, as the Queen’s four-year-old has made a flawless start to his career. Impressive at Fakenham he could be anything, but the smart play might be FAIR TRADE for Alan King once more.

This horse was deemed good enough to run in the 2000 Guineas on the flat just two years ago but never managed to add to his maiden victory. He clearly fell out of love with the flat game but the move to a new trainer and the different challenge may revitalise Fair Trade and he is an intriguing proposition for the season.

In receipt of 5lb from the penalised Close Touch and Wetherby scorer Lordofthehouse, I’m excited to see him run and he will carry some of my cash.

■ Pointers…
MINELLA FORFITNESS 12.55pm Ascot (today)
KUMBESHWAR 1.20pm Haydock (today)
FAIR TRADE 2.05pm Ascot (today)
KATKEAU e/w 2.30pm Haydock (tomorrow)
KATENKO e/w 2.30pm Haydock (tomorrow)
OSCAR WHISKY 2.45pm Ascot (tomorrow)
LAY LONG RUN ON BETFAIR 3.00pm Haydock (tomorrow)