I'M delighted to have Channel 4's Nick Luck join the team here at MrFixitsTips. It's great to have such a respected and knowledgeable figure be part of it and I hope he can start with a winner or two. Here's his take on the meeting at Ascot on Saturday.
Nick says: I’ll kick off my best bets at Ascot on Saturday, as I have done in my Oddschecker column, with the Grade One JLT Long Walk Hurdle (2.25), the feature event on the card.
Unowwhatimeanharry has been all the rage in the ante-post market for this prestigious contest but I’m not sure he achieved any more than could reasonably have been expected at Newbury on return given I’m not convinced runner-up Ballyoptic ran his race. With that in mind, I think this race looks ripe for a crack at something each-way against the market leader, and I’m very keen on French raider ALEX DE LARREDYA who can be backed at best odds of 6-1 if you go to the Oddschecker grid for this race.
We know he’s a frequent winner, is versatile in terms of ground and is still improving but the most striking facet of his profile is that he put up a career-best effort in a Grade 1 at Auteuil last time, which was probably the sternest test of stamina he had faced in his career. He had Ptit Zig nine lengths (3rd) behind him that day and he has the potential to be a major force in the staying hurdle division. Hopefully he can show that here – he should certainly get this race run to suit. Lil Rockefeller also deserves plenty of respect given he he has some tremendous form at Ascot and deserves another go at this trip.
The opening BGC Partners Handicap Chase (1.50) can go the way of ANDY KELLY who represents the in-form stable of Emma Lavelle. This lightly-raced 7yo has shown huge promise at times, notably when bolting up at Plumpton last year, and although he got no further than the fifth fence at Kempton on his reappearance, I remain convinced that he has serious potential off his current mark.
The Silver Cup Handicap Chase at 3.00 looks wide open and I’m going to take a chance things could finally come together for REGAL ENCORE who got no luck at all at Cheltenham last week, getting stopped in his run three times. Prior to that I think he actually ran quite well up to a point in the Hennessy and although he’s clearly got a huge hole in him, he surely has possibilities at a big odds. If you are looking for a safer conveyance in this contest, Le Mercurey ran well behind Many Clouds at Aintree last time and looks more likely than many to give his running.
I’m going to be dull in the concluding Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle (3.35) and side with the horse everybody seems to fancy – GOLDEN SPEAR. It’s not just that he is trained by wiley Irish handler Tony Martin – that’s an obvious plus, but he has improved a huge amount on the Flat since his last hurdles run, he handles most types of ground, loves a strongly run race (looks sure to get that here) and everything looks set up perfectly for him here. Don’t be surprised if he develops into a gamble on the day. Stablemate Pyromaniac also needs respecting, but he doesn’t have the potential off his mark that the selection has.
- 1.50 Ascot – ANDY KELLY
- 2.25 Ascot – ALEX DE LARREDYA (e/w)
- 3.00 Ascot – REGAL ENCORE
- 3.35 Ascot – GOLDEN SPEAR