Rory Delargy puts forward the case for a trio of Lays from Ascot. First up…
13:15 Matchbook Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase
Blue Flight looks ill-equipped for the relative test of speed he’ll encounter here, and a couple of serious errors when beaten in a lesser contest at Wetherby suggests he could struggle to put in an error-free round at the stronger pace the field will go here. Add to that his trainer’s dreadful record at Ascot in recent years (I’m a big fan of ‘Nige’ as his kids call him, but a 3% strike rate should always be a red flag. That’s his overall record at Ascot in the past five seasons, and he is 3-81 over fences since 2002.
I’m sure Blue Flight will pay his way, but he will need time and distance to be seen at his best in this sphere.
Recommended: Lay Blue Flight for a place @ 3.25 or shorter [max liability 9pts] – Betting Market
13:50 OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle (Warfield)
I’m not a fan of backing horses over hurdles who are reverting from fences, especially after a defeat, and for every Buveur D’Air, there are several other examples of horses who have run below their best when making the switch, and Jester Jet looks one to take on, particularly with all her very best form coming left handed.
It’s true that she has won a couple of times this way around, but she was ridiculously well handicapped in her early days with Tom Lacey and was able to do so without having to be at her best. More recently, she shows a pattern of running a little, or a lot, below her capability when racing right handed, and she cannot afford any lapses at this level.
She looks third best here even if bouncing back to her best hurdles form, and there are a couple who could improve past her even so.
Recommended: Lay Jester Jet for a place @ 2.75 or shorter [max liability 11pts] – Betting Market
14:25 Matchbook Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle
Thosedaysaregone is favourite here on the strength of landing a touch at Wetherby last time, and the reputation of his trainer for landing a gamble will make him popular again.
I don’t deny that the handicapper could have been harsher given the authority of his win last time, but part of the armoury of the shrewd gambling trainer is finding the right race, and the Wetherby contest was much, much weaker than this on paper, so the fact that he probably would have won there with another stone on his back doesn’t make him look a good thing here given the difference in the opposition and the way the race will be run.
Recommended: Lay Thosewerethedays @ 4.0 or shorter [max liability 9pts]