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A lot of non runners but still a very decent Saturday’s card with  Un De Sceaux travelling to Ascot for the Clarence House Chase. I ve read online THAT many punters are keen to take him on with Brain Power but I m not completely sure IF it is a good move: the latter according to my notes performs best on good ground and Mullins’ champion loves cut in the ground. Anyway, at these odds I’ll pass and focus on races with + 8 runners (3 places or more) plus a couple of picks in smaller fields including  the Champion Hurdle Trial Hurdle at Haydock. The handicapper has been tough to last time winners this month and there is maybe some value elsewhere so I’ll try to oppose the favourites with horses suited by conditions, pace and distance.

14:25 Ascot - Oxwich Bay 15/2 Coral each way Bet365
Oxwich Bay went in my tracker last season after a couple of decent performances in defeat : he relished the step up in trip last time at Ffos Las when winning over THE same distance of today’s race on heavy going. Evan Williams’ gelding looks the improving type : he went only 3lbs for his victory and Mitchell Bastyan will claim 5, so actually HE can run off a better mark today.

15:00 Ascot Shantou Flyer 7/1 each way ****
This is a class 2 event and Shantou Flyer has been competing at Grade/Listed level so far as his handicap mark went sky high after a Grade 3 win at Cheltenham around this time of the year last season. Richard Hobson’s charge SHOWED his true colours last time out going close in competitive Grade 3 event and looks down in class. Mitchell Bastyan (claiming 5lbs) is confirmed on board and 7/1 looks a decent each way proposition at the early exchanges.

15:15 Haydock The Dutchman 12/1 Bet365- Highland Lodge 20/1 both each way 4-5 places
This is probably the race bookies will compete with each other offering an extra place(Sky Bet and Paddy Power 5 places), they love to lay these open field contests. I respect the favourites, there might be a real top horse but I’ll pass on them as it’ll be very hard to win again under a penalty on heavy ground. First of all I was interested in Carole's Destrier that put up this great performance last season in the Hennessy finishing really fast and almost beating on the line Native River but I m not sure if he is effective on deep ground and has not delivered since that race... could be well treated at current mark.
The Dutchman started his last season winning a Novice chase at Wetherby over too short a trip according to his trainer Sandy Thomson and ran several fair races in defeat subsequently. He moved to Tizzard’s stable having a very positive debut at this course in the Stayers Grade 3 on heavy ground finding only Sam Spinner too good. He did not enjoy the Cheltenham hill subsequently and he’s back here 2lb better off.
The other one that looks interesting at juicy odds is Highland Lodge: he runs only 3-4 times per year and often delivers a good performance when mud flies over staying distances. He did really well last time out at Aintree when third to top rated Blaklion and The Last Samuri : he’s had a nice break since and looks an each way proposition.

16:15 Haydock  Bruichladdich 8/1 each way Bet365 Betfred
Very tricky contest with a few lightly raced sorts open to improvement. Bruichladdich was having his first seasonal run last time out at Ayr after a long break. Unfancied and drifting in the market he ran a race full of promise behind subsequent winner Too Many Chiefs running out of puff just in the 100yards. Jardine’s charge was entitled to need it but he relished the big time step up in trip very well. He’d have done without the 5lbs raise in the ratings but he’s carrying only 10-6 and looks open to improvement.

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Second favourite can turn over short price fav

14:15 Taunton –Irving 9/4 Bet365
Monbeg Legend will be probably a short price favourite but he has done all his winning on fast ground and it’s a big question mark if he can handle the conditions at seasonal reappearance. Irving is the class horse in this contest and he’s stepping up in trip for the first time: he finished off really well last time out behind  Buveur D'air in Newcastle Grade 1 contest giving the impression he would  stay the extra mileage. This course winner loves cut in the ground and drops in handicap company at the workable mark of 149: positive jockey booking in Bryony Frost claiming an extra 5lbs.

14:40 Haydock - Ch'tibello 7/4 Bet365 William Hill

The New One has won the last 3 editions of this contest and even though not getting any younger he’s still alive and kicking at 10 years of age. He might be vulnerable today at odds-on giving 6lbs to the field and I think Ch'tibello could be a big danger after the very promising first season run at Cheltenham : he made an eye-catching headway before 2 out but was short of room at the stands rail before last losing momentum. Skelton’s charge finished only 1 length and a ¼ behind The New One but I m sure he’ll come on plenty with that run under his belt. He won over this course and distance last season second time out on heavy ground beating short odds-on My Tent Or Yours and finished a close second to Yanworth in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle with smart Sceau Royal back in third. An improving profile for a relatively lightly raced horse, more to come, hopefully today.

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The favourites:
When I was studying these types of Novices contests this afternoon,  odds were unknown yet, so I just picked my fancies waiting curiously for the early prices. These three runners are favourites, up to you guys if you like to bet them

12:40 Ascot- Nayati 10/11
I think the well supported Nayati was a very impressive winner on his UK debut on testing ground. He won easily beating Kapdad that run really well in defeat subsequently at Kempton against classy Redicean. Trainer King is the one to follow in January and his charge can defy a penalty against some unexposed sorts that might need the experience.

15:25 Brianstorm 11/10
Brianstorm has improved with every run and especially when talking soft ground: second to the more experienced Arthington at Leicester, he did extremely well to get third in competitive Newbury Maiden. The form of that race has taken some boost with some of those running well subsequently and trainer Greatrex may have found an easier race to his  charge finally off the mark.

16:05 Santini 4/5
I was really impressed by former point-to-point winner Santini when winning at his debut under rules at Newbury. A drifter that day but he pulled 4 ½ lengths clear of the subsequent double winner Chef Des Obeaux, a convincing Kempton scorer last week-end. This 150k purchase knew his job already and could be something special if improving on that performance. Nicky Henderson likes to take his best horses to Ascot, it’s clearly a good test for the future as racing is competitive.
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