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Pic D'Orhy was an easy winner for yesterday's sole selection. He returned a drifted price of 5/4, which isn't a great price by any means, but it was definite value and he was a class above that field, with his accurate jumping being his main weapon against a bunch of poor jumpers.
If truth be told, the staying division is a weak one, and it's up for debate who is the best staying hurdler from either Britain or Ireland. This race has your usual British contestants of Paisley Park and Thyme Hill etc, with the exception of Champ who is interesting. RONALD PUMP is no mug by any means, and I think he is better than this lot, and will prove that his Irish form isn't to be messed with.
Ronald Pump is a Grade 1 horse, there is no doubt in my mind that he is, despite the fact he has never won one. He has finished runner-up to Honeysuckle on two occasions in the Hatton's Grace, which alone is very strong form. Whether or not he is better over that slightly shorter trip, that's up for debate, but for sure he stays the 3m. He was runner-up in the Stayer's Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2020 which was won by Lisnagar Oscar at odds of 50/1. That horse hasn't won a race since, so was clearly a fluke result, and Ronald Pump was unlucky not to win, as he didn't jump his best throughout but still managed to make a race of it and finish 2nd. I think he will be a lot fitter than he was for the Hatton's Grace, and there is a possibility that this would've been his main target for the start of the season, in attempt of going for another crack at the Stayer's in March.
Like I briefly mentioned earlier, I don't really rate the others in the race. I think Champ is the most interesting runner in the field, as in my opinion they've made the correct decision of reverting to hurdles. Even though he won the RSA Chase when he was a novice over fences, he's never really looked a natural, and jumped like a Snooker table in the Gold Cup. He is a talented horse with a big engine, which we saw in the RSA where he motored up the hill to beat some smart horses in Allaho, Minella Indo and more. He might need this run, and with Jonjo Jr riding him for the first time, I think he can be watched. But if he won, it wouldn't surprise me. As for the others, Paisley looks a shadow of the horse he used to be. Thyme Hill still doesn't set the world alight in my opinion, and his form isn't that great, beating Roksana and was behind Paisley in this race last year.
BELAMI DES PICTONS is a horse I've been waiting to back since he made his comeback run at Bangor last month where he eventually finished fourth behind Snow Leopardess. The way he travelled through the race was impressive for a horse who was running for the first time from a 600+ day absence, and the way he got tired suggested that he clearly needed the run, which is no great shock. I thought the next time they run him, he's got to have a great chance, and here we are today.
This race looks competitive, if not even more competitive than the Bangor race, which is something you'd expect from a Saturday Ascot racecard. However, I still believe he is well handicapped off his current mark of 135 and he clearly retains all of his ability at the age of 10. Venetia is a quality trainer, and normally starts to hit the ground running at this time of year. This time around she has started it a little earlier, and has been in very good form as of recent, and is a trainer who places her horses very well. The form of his return run has started to work out very well. The winner, Snow Leopardess won the Becher Chase and Blacklion also won next time out.
At the time of writing, he is the current market favourite, which isn't a surprise, but he is starting to drift out.
My initial thoughts was Chti Balko has strong claims in this race, as he previously won this race last year off a higher mark, and generally runs well at this track on ground which should suit. However, I'm going to be giving a chance to FUSAIN, who makes his stable debut for Ann Duffield.
Ann, more well known for her training of Flat horses, has had a couple of runners over the jumps this week, which resulted in a 22/1 winner from a horse who was previously trained by Patrick Neville. This horse also came from that yard, but was unraced for that trainer, but did show some decent pieces of form when trained by Henry De Bromhead which includes an easy win over Kitty Galore, who is now rated 124 over fences, with the horse back in 3rd also being rated in the 120s. Fusain beat them by 12 and 12.25L, winning doing handstands. His form when racing on testing ground reads much better than good, and he was 2nd in a Gordon Elliot trained horse, who is now rated in the high 120s, but was in front of a JP McManus horse (Pure Genius), who is now rated 134.
His current odds of 16/1 make him worth a small EW bet, and the jockey booking of Kevin Brogan suggests they are thinking he will run a big race as he is one of the top conditional's in the country, and in this conditional jockeys' race, it is an eye-catching booking.
I tipped up BUZZ DE TURCOING last time out where I said he was well-handicapped, and he did prove that. He was put up 6lbs for that win, but Samuel Drinkwater has reverted back to Jack Tudor who takes the ride and takes off a very handy 3lbs, which means he has effectively only gone up 3lbs for that win, which still makes him well-handicapped in my eyes. His win at Ayr might not have looked as impressive as I make him out to be, but he probably got to the front sooner than ideal, and he was given a good ride in a strange race which was blown apart when the eventual 3rd placed horse got an easy lead of things and made it a difficult race for the jockey's to weigh up. He gets into this on a decent weight of 10st 7lbs, and should get a good gallop to aim at, and should enjoy the ground. He is a previous course winner over 2m 7f on heavy, so this should be right up his street. If he's ever going to win a decent pot of prize money, this is his chance.