Save the Big Buck’s for Bellvano and Dave’s Dream at Ascot today

PAUL NICHOLLS continued his extraordinary run of Saturday big race wins by landing last weekend’s Gold Cup at Cheltenham and the Champion trainer will hope that Big Buck’s can make it a ‘famous five’ tomorrow.

Kauto Star, Denman, Twist Magic and Poquelin have all grabbed the racing headlines on consecutive Saturdays for Team Ditcheat and last year’s World Hurdle winner is just 4/7 with Boylesports to land tomorrow’s Long Walk Hurdle.

However, Big Buck’s is taking on a decent looking field on a right-handed track and at the prices, I would far rather be a layer than a backer on Betdaq. In fact, Big Buck’s is going right-handed for the first time on a British racecourse and connections have already expressed a tiny bit of concern. He is certainly the most likely winner, but is far too short and is worth taking on. I’ll be having a small each-way bet on course specialist LOUGH DERG to make the frame at around the 16/1 mark.

The Ladbroke Hurdle looks a predictably competitive affair, but I’m still not convinced that the handicapper has caught up with HARRY TRICKER. The form of his Greatwood Hurdle second to Khyber Kim is looking rock solid and a repeat of that performance would be more than enough in this grade.

Yet, the best betting opportunities this side of Christmas are to come at Ascot this afternoon with two Nicky Henderson trained hotpots. Firstly, BELLVANO can land the Grade Two Novices’ Hurdle at 1.55pm. He went into plenty of notebooks when bolting up last time and looks to be one of the rising stars in the hurdling world.

Next up, the Seven Barrows team sends out DAVE’S DREAM in the Novices’ Chase at 2.30pm and he can build on his recent Huntingdon success. He’s always been held in high regard by his masterful (and in-form) trainer and it would be a major shock if he didn’t go very close here even in much hotter company.

Looking ahead to the busy Christmas period and Kauto Star is a best priced 4/6 to land a fourth consecutive King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. I think he’ll win, but I’m more tempted by the 9/2 on offer about MADISON DU BERLAIS in the without Kauto Star market. He hated the ground at Haydock and can give Kauto the most to think about.

BELLVANO 1.55pm Ascot (Today)
DAVE’S DREAM 2.30pm Ascot (Today)
LOUGH DERG e/w 2.05pm Ascot (Tomorrow)
HARRY TRICKER 2.40pm Ascot (Tomorrow)
w/o KAUTO STAR (King George VI Chase)