Charlie McCann of BetVictor.com with Saturday’s best racing bets
A wonderful card at Ascot this afternoon to take us into Christmas and the three-runner Graduation Chase sees the belated seasonal reappearance of Irish raider Coney Island (1.15) who meets former World Hurdler More Of That and the progressive novice Adrien Du Pont who receives 11lbs from the selection.
Adrien Du Pont was only beaten just over 6l by the top class pair Willoughby Court and Yanworth in the Grade 2 Berkshire Novices’ Chase at Newbury at the beginning of the month. His trainer Paul Nicholls’ saddled the winner of this corresponding race for five successive years from 2008-2014 but I am a massive Coney Island fan and think the prize will cross the Irish Sea.
Coney Island hasn’t been seen out since finishing runner up to subsequent Irish National winner Our Duke in the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Leopardstown last Christmas and I will be disappointed if he is beaten despite having his first start in 12 months.
Monbeg River (1.50) runs off a career high mark having been raised 6lbs for a fluent success at Doncaster last month. Martin Todhunter’s eight-year-old would not want the ground too soft but his jumping was a joy to behold at Doncaster last time and the hope is that Henry Brooke can make plenty of use of the selection’s bold fencing.
Pougne Bobbi has shaped as though today’s intermediate trip of 2m 3f is his optimum having failed to get 3m on his last start last season. Nicky Henderson’s charge would be worth noting if the market spoke in his favour.
The Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle is a hot race with last year’s winner Unowhatimeanharry heading the market at 15/8 with BetVictor. Harry Fry’s nine-year-old failed to give 6lbs to the progressive Beer Goggles at Newbury last time and I just feel he is vulnerable this afternoon.
I am convinced The Worlds End (12/1 at BetVictor) is top class but it is possible that his chance will be scuppered by the soft ground but he remains one to have on your side in the spring Festivals on better ground. L’Ami Serge (2.25) shaped as if the step back up to 3m would suit when second here last month and that run should have put him spot on. The selection is 9/2 at BetVictor and I hope to see Daryl Jacob swoop fast and late.
On Tour would have won at Newbury last time and must go close in the competitive 3m Handicap Chase but he has yet to prove he truly stays this trip and his form invariably drops off after a good start to the season. He is reluctantly overlooked this afternoon.
Singlefarmpayment (3.00) has never won going right-handed but deserves a change of luck having fell three out when likely to finish third in the Hennessy last time and just touched off at the Festival back in the spring. The selection runs off the same mark as at Newbury and gets the nod at 9/2 with BetVictor.
In the valuable 2m Handicap Hurdle Divin Bere has switched yards since finishing runner up in the Aintree Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle behind Defi Du Seuil and Paul Nicholls legs up Bryony Frost who takes off a valuable 5lbs. He is entitled to need the run and might get further in time but is an interesting contender.
Charli Parcs (3.35) gets the each way vote for JP McManus and Nicky Henderson having run an excellent race at Newbury when runner up in a race not run to suit. The selection finished sixth in the Triumph last season and gets the each way vote at 11/2 with BetVictor.
Willie Mullins has a rare Haydock runner with the mare Court Artist who has won her last couple of hurdle starts but I cannot desert Cap Soleil (1.00) despite the fact that the selection lost her unbeaten record at Newbury last time. This step up beyond 2m for the first time should suit and she can get back to winning ways.
Cap Du Nord (3.20) is 9lbs higher than when scoring at Sandown last time but James Bowen takes off a valuable 5lbs and the selection will only carry 9st 9lbs in the Haydock finale. This represents a step up in grade but there is likely to be more to come from Christian Williams’s four-year-old who is a confident selection.
The winning Irish pointer Celtic Flames (12.15) is 5lbs higher for scoring at Hexham on his chase debut and he is taken to follow up at Newcastle for the Grand National winning combination of Lucinda Russell and Derek Fox.
Have a very happy Christmas