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Hold That Taught, which I spelt as Thought, won under a great ride by Charlie Deutsch. I am such a big fan of Charlie, I think he is the best jockey over fences and it's not even close. The way he gets his horses jumping in a perfect rhythm is just magic to watch and the way he gets them on great strides at most fences is quality.
To walk away with just one winner was a shame as Welcom To Cartries made a great start to his life over rules with a close 2nd to a good-looking novice who had the form in the book to be competitive and he did the job. I think the runner-up will be a better horse in time and he'll be some prospect when they send him chasing. Bobo Mac ran a belter as well, he just kept plugging away but couldn't get to the younger improving horse from the Honeyball yard, place money, but he ran his heart out the old boy.
Haydock 12:05 – Primoz 3/1 (1pt, PaddyPower)
This is a Grade 2, but whether or not these will turn out to be Grade 2 level or better in the future, I'm not so sure. In my opinion, this is between three horses and I think Primoz could be a fairly smart novice hurdler.
Tom Scudamore who is tied in with the Lucinda Russell stable now mentioned that this horse is a very good horse, saying it on ITV before his hurdles debut and he was well-backed and put in a performance which backs up what Tom said. He made all that day, which could've flattered him as he got his own way in front and if another horse was to take him on for the lead today it would pose some questions, but if you're not impressed with how he kicked on in the final furlong then I don't know what to say. He was absolutely flying after jumping the last hurdle and when Derek Fox asked for a response he picked up rapidly and won with plenty in hand, beating I Love My Baie into 2nd place. The runner-up is in this race and is on level weights today, as he was carrying a 6lb penalty when they met, but I don't think that will matter in the slightest.
Bowenspark looks a lovely prospect for Henry Daly and was a classy bumper horse, shown by winning two and finishing 4th in the Grade 2 at Aintree. He won easily on hurdles debut but probably didn't beat much, and I think you'll see the best of him over slightly further as he looks a strong stayer over 2m. I rate him as the main danger. Kamsinas is the other horse I see who could win this as he has the best f0rm over hurdles with a 2nd to Lookaway in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham last month, that was a good performance, but he couldn't get to the winner who made all, which could be a similar scenario if my selection gets a lead.
Ascot 2:40 – Lassue 11/4 (1pt, Bet365)
I did expect Lassue to be a bit shorter in the market based on how well she perform ed at Chepstow on the back of a 629-day break, so seeing close to 3/1 seems a good bet.
When horses make a return after such a big absence and run well like Lassue did, it leaves a doubt that they might bounce, but if there's a horse in this race that's a fair bit ahead of their mark then it is definitely the Fergal O'Brien horse. She has only raced 3x over hurdles and is a 7yo, which has seen her win twice and I thought the performance of last time out was a great return to racing. She beat Fortuna Ligna, who is in this race and is probably ahead of the handicapper, and I thought she beat her quite convincingly. The way she travelled through the race was extremely eyecatching, so with further progression likely to come, she could be very tough to beat in a race Fergal has won before and has had many finish in the places or just outside of, so is a race he likes to send one for.
The Honeyball horse which Lassue beat last time out will be a tough nut to crack, as I think she will have come on for that run at Chepstow and she likes to run from the front, but I think there's still plenty more to come from the lightly raced mare from the Fergal stable.
Ascot 3:15 – Frere D'Armes 9/2 (2pt, Bet365 & PaddyPower)
For some reason, the Dan Skelton yard isn't firing first time out this year with many of them needing their first run to get fitness and the same can be said about Frere D'Armes who made an encouraging return to action 21 days ago.
Turning for home, if you were a backer of Frere D'Armes in the Byrne Group Handicap Chase Grade 3, you'd have been confident of maybe winning the race as he was travelling very powerfully under Ciaran Gethings, but I think you could tell he was running on empty when jumping the second from home quite slowly and it wasn't the most fluent jump. He jumped the last better, but he was going up and down on the spot after that, so the run was definitely needed and I think he'll be ready to fire this time around.
Tristan Durrell takes the ride and claims 5lbs, with Harry up at Haydock for the Betfair Chase it means Dan has opted for his usual claimer to do the steering and to be fair, Tristan is a decent enough rider and claiming 5lbs is a good shout as it puts this horse on 10st 1lbs, which is ridiculous for a horse who cruises into contention. He seems to run Ascot well as he finished 2nd at this track when I put him up as a tip last season when just outstayed by Black Gerry. This is a nice pot to land, and I think the weight he gets from the other horses in the race now he is racefit will make it a tough ask for them to compete with him, as long as his jumping holds up.
Haydock Park - 12:05 pm
3/1 @ PaddyPower
Ascot - 2:40 pm
11/4 @ Bet365
Ascot - 3:15 pm