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The Greatrex/Bowen horse in opener didn't run particularly great, but I don't think the way the race was run was suited. They went a walk for the first 2f, then pretty much jogged around till half way, my selection was outpaced but was staying on in the end. Hello Judge jumped horrifically until the final straight when he jumped nicely, but his poor jumps gave him no chance. Vocal Duke, horrific as well.
Ascot 12:15 – Welcom To Cartries 6/4 (1pt, Bet365)
This won't be a walk in the park for a newcomer to win this on their first hurdles start, but I think there is a high possibility that the Paul Nicholls newcomer could be very good.
To say that I think Welcom To Cartries could be very good without seeing him run in the UK will sound bizarre, but there are pointers to suggest he will/is a smart horse. For him to be backed into 4/5F on his sole PTP run is a testament to how good he was at home for his PTP yard and with the market vibes being that strong, that is very eyecatching. He truly delivered for those short odds as he won by 16L. On the look of that 16L victory it now looks like fairly solid form as the runner-up has been consistently hitting the high 110s from his 6 runs to date over rules, but he couldn't get close to Welcom To Cartries who won on the bridle, so you must be talking about a decent horse to do that with ease.
To win this race it's probably going to take a performance rated around the low 130s, as Beat The Bat has already recorded an RPR of 125 and he's only going to improve from that first run. That's always a tough ask for a newcomer, but it's definitely doable for this 450,000 Euro purchase.
Ascot 3:10 – Hold That Thought 6/1 (0.5pt EW, WilliamHill)
I really don't think this is that strong of a race, you have some horses who are dropping to decent enough marks, but are they better handicapped than Hold That Thought? I don't think they are, so this horse gets my vote.
It's pointing out the obvious at this stage, but the Venetia Williams stable is the most in form stable in the UK, she is firing in winners nearly every day, so I can see Hold That Thought bouncing back to form. This horse won first time out in 2021 at Carlisle, winning with ease off a mark of 128, but since then his form has dropped off a cliff and I'm not sure why. However, he's been given a great chance by the handicapper by dropping him down to a mark of 122 and considering he's won fresh before, and with the yard being in tremendous form, I think this horse is definitely worth a chance in this race, which doesn't look as strong as recent years.
Venetia won this race back in 2021 and had the fourth in last year's race with the winner of the 2021 renewal, so it's been a target in recent years for her and it's noticeable that they have opted as this horse being their hope for it this year.
The faster ground (good to soft) shouldn't be a problem for this horse, who has most of his form of soft or heavy, but he was a PTP winner on good-to-yielding, so he should be fine.
Chepstow 3:25 – Bobo Mac 11/2 (0.5pt EW, Bet365 3pl)
I am a sucker for trends and for trainer's winning races in previous years. Tom Symonds has won the two only renewals of this conditional jockey's handicap, and he bids to make it 3/3 with last year's winner, Bobo Mac.
This horse has clearly been aimed at winning this race for the 2nd year running as he was given a prep run around the same time out last year, ran okay but it was evidently a prep race for this Chepstow conditionals race, and Tom Symonds has done the same this year. He booked Caoilin Quinn last year who claimed 3lbs, but this year he's opted for one of the better conditional jockeys in young Freddie Gordon, who has never ridden for Tom before and makes the trip for this one ride.
This horse is now a 12yo, so his better days are well in the past, but he's still on a decent handicap mark of 102 given he won this race last year off 111 which was 108 with the 3lb claimer doing the riding, so he's clearly on a good enough mark to win this race. It will have been his target, so I'm expecting a big run.
Ascot - 12:15 pm
6/4 @ Bet365
Ascot - 3:10 pm
6/1 @ William Hill
Chepstow - 3:25 am