The Clarence House takes centre-stage this weekend where Un de Scaux and Defi Du Seuil renew rival and I think the veteran can shown his younger rival a clean pair of heels to land the spoils. Also at Ascot I think Bold Plan can continue his progression by landing the Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle. While at Haydock Acting Lass looks the one in the Peter Marsh and Pentland Hills bids to reignite his Champion Hurdle dreams in the Champion Hurdle Trial.
The Warfield Hurdle
Papagana has shown improved form since stepping up in distance and ran a career-best when finishing third in the Long Walk behind The Worlds End. Considering she’s back against her own sex and down in grade she’ll be very difficult to beat.
Recent listed chase winner Sensulano is a very consistent sort and although she should be competitive I think she could be a better horse over fences than hurdles.
Coded Message has progressed nicely through the ranks and was a very easy winner of a competitive handicap at Kempton last month. That being said she has seventeen-pounds to find with the favourite.
Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle
Pic D’Orhy was Grade 1 placed in his native France in late 2018 and ran well for a long way in the Triumph Hurdle on his British debut. He fell when back in France in a Grade 1 for current connection when coming to grief. There is more to come from him and should go well on handicap debut.
The likeable Bold Plan got ten-pounds for a snug victory at Haydock in November. That rise may not be beyond him and must be high on everyone’s list.
The lightly-raced Jolly’s Cracked It has been a shadow of his former self in recent runs but races here off a career-low mark of 135 which must bring him into the reckoning.
Selection: Bold Plan
Ascot Handicap Chase
Venetia Williams continues to fire in the winners including Espoir De Guye who was a very easy winner at Ascot in December over shorter. He was staying on well that day and should have no problem with the extra two furlongs.
Happy Diva would be a dream to own with Kerry Lee’s mare having not finished out of the places in her last twenty starts when staying upright. She was headed late on by Lady Buttons at Doncaster and another big run looks on the cards.
Sam’s Adventure has yet to win after three starts over fences but has shown a good level of form to date. The impressive Jack Tudor is a shrewd booking jockey booking and he’s the one to beat.
Selection: Sam’s Adventure
Clarence House Chase
Un de Sceaux has won this race no fewer than three times and bids for a record-setting fourth victory here. He went down fighting when only a neck behind Defi Du Seuil in the Tingle Creek and with the forecasted soft ground in his favour the “old boy” can beat the young pretender. Defi Du Seuil had a great season winning two Grade 1’s and is unbeaten in two starts this season but with everything in the Irish-raiders favour he may come out second-best.
This looks like a two-horse race but Janika is a very smart sort and reverts back to fences after disappointing over hurdles last time out. He’s only rated one-pound lower than Defi Du Seuil and could spring a surprise.
The field is made up by Capeland and Marracudja who both really shouldn’t be good enough to feature.
Selection: Un de Sceaux
Rossington Novices’ Hurdle
Edwardstone has yet to finish out of the placings in five runs and is unbeaten in both his hurdles runs. He’s an improving sort and could be tough to beat.
The recent listed hurdle winner Thebannerkingrebel is unbeaten when staying upright over the smaller obstacles but he is prone to a mistake and needs to jump better if he’s to win here.
The lightly-raced Stolen Silver went down fighting behind the classy Chantry House at Cheltenham in December. The Nigel Twiston-Davies yard continue sin their rich vein of form and he shouldn’t be underestimated.
Peter Marsh Chase
Definitly Red has to give weight away to all his rivals but is by far and away the class act in the race. He hasn’t won in over a year but showed a return to form when finishing fourth in the Becher Chase last month. He was a Grade 2 winner over hurdles at Haydock back in 2015 and should run well.
Harry Fry’s stable is operating at a 38% strike rate at present and are represented by Acting Lass here who’s very lightly raced and is open to further improvement. He seems to excel on heavy underfoot conditions and holds leading claims.
Midnight Tune has only gone up three-pounds for two recent victories and has the back class being a Grade 2 winner over hurdles as a novice. I do have slight reservations that she’s not quite as good over fences but only time will tell.
The other of note in here is Prime Venture who finished a close up fourth in the Welsh National when last seen. He got two-pounds from the handicapper for that run but if that run hasn’t taken too much out of him he should go close.
Selection: Acting Lass
Champion Hurdle Trial
This race is named after The New One who took this race four times in a row from 2015 to 2018. Given that affinity with the race, Nigel Twiston-Davies will be keen to win the race with Ballyandy. He put in a career-best performance when finishing third in the Christmas Hurdle and should once again be in the frame.
Last season’s Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills travelled well in the International Hurdle on seasonal debut before tiring late-on. He should have come on plenty from the run and if he settles better then he’s the one to beat.
Cornerstone Lad looks a different horse this season and caused a massive shock when beating Buveur D’Air in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in November. He got a fine front-running ride from Henry Brooke that day and may struggle to repeat the feat here.
The field is made up by the Irish-raider Darasso who was a Grade 2 winner last season and could be anything.
Selection: Pentland Hills