FREE SAMPLE: VIP Members Weekly Tipping (National Hunt)
The bettrends team got the 2019-20 National Hunt season off to a flying start.
A winning NAP and NB landed in some style in the form of Vinndication and Road To Respect, with the double paying odds of 21.5/1.
Diego Du Charmil won an early contender for race of the season, winning for the team at an advised price of 12/1.
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2:10 Ascot – The Byrne Group Handicap Chase (Listed Race) (EA)
One of the horses vying for favouritism in this competitive handicap is Speredek, who has built up a solid record in his four races at Ascot for Nigel Hawke. He might not have managed to get his head in front at the course, but has performed creditably to finish third on three occasions. His first run at Ascot came back in November 2017 when he only lost out to Nicky Henderson’s very useful mare Verdana Blue over hurdles. Speredek has been campaigned back over fences since, winning a Sandown handicap on his following run in January 2018 before then being stepped up to Grade 1 level. He put up an excellent effort to finish second to Willie Mullins’ Un De Sceaux in Ascot’s Clarence House Chase, employing his usual front-running tactics for a long way in the contest, before his only blip at Saturday’s course coming when he was pulled up in the Ascot Chase. His best performance of the 2018/19 season came on his reappearance back at Ascot when runner-up to Caid du Lin (who reopposes this weekend). Speredek was only worn down late in the day and can reverse the placings this time around, now only having to concede 4lb to his rival. However, he will have to return somewhere near his best to gain a first win at Ascot this weekend.
Another towards the head of the market is Ballywood, who has shown progressive form since joining Alan King from France in 2018. The lightly-race five-year-old has thrived since being sent chasing, winning three of his five starts in Britain. His most recent win came in March when he was successful in a Class 2 handicap at Ludlow, and prior to that he had finished runner-up in a Grade 2 novice at Doncaster in January. When last seen he failed to get involved back at Grade 2 level at Ayr, although he raced keenly that day stepped up in distance to two and a half miles. Ballywood has to be respected given his form last season, but his improvement came on good ground so he might not want conditions to get too testing on Saturday.
A chance is taken on DIEGO DU CHARMIL returning to form at Ascot, having been a Grade 1 winner as a novice in 2018 for Paul Nicholls. His success at the top level came in the Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree’s Grand National Festival, but he has failed to build on that effort so far. He has been set a number of stiff tasks since then though, only competing in Grade 1 and 2 contests in his five subsequent runs. These included four races against the mighty Altior, where he was always going to be up against it. Although not quite up to the top level last season, Saturday’s Listed race looks to be a good place for DIEGO DU CHARMIL to start off his new campaign and he has had wind surgery since his last run in the Celebration Chase at Sandown in April. The seven-year-old can get his career back on track at Ascot before possibly going onto bigger targets during the season.
Another with good form as a novice is the Tom George-trained Clondaw Castle, who finished fourth in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival last season before filling the same position in the Maghull. However, this looks a tough race in which for him to make his first appearance over fences outside of novice company. The Last Day was also a useful novice in 2018/19 for Evan Williams, but this is a big step up from his Class 3 win at Carlisle when last seen in March.
DIEGO DU CHARMIL 0.5pts E/W @ 12/1 (Boylesport – 4 places)
2:25 Down Royal – The Ladbrokes Champion Chase (Grade 1) (AC)
The feature race of the weekend is a most intriguing one. A clash between an exciting second season chaser Delta Work and King George winner Clan Des Obeaux is the contest most National Hunt fans savour. However, there’s the danger that the two at the head of the market, despite being classy chasers, might not represent value in a competitive race.
The case for Delta Work is easy to make. Decisive wins in Grade 1 novice company preceded a respectable display at the Cheltenham Festival, before he bounced right back to form at Punchestown to rout the field by over ten lengths. While he looks a chaser to follow, it’s worth noting that he’s been beaten twice on seasonal debut in the past, which is a concern here.
This is also a bit of a concern for Clan Des Obeaux. He won on debut for Paul Nicholls back in 2015, but has been beaten at Chepstow, Kempton and Haydock on his subsequent seasonal debuts. While he has class in abundance, notably when hosing up in the King George last year, he was vulnerable at Cheltenham and Aintree. He may have strengthened up over the summer, and if so he’s worthy of his price tag, but 2/1 about a horse who’s been beaten the last twice is short enough.
Alpha Des Obeaux will undoubtedly improve for his seasonal debut at Punchestown, but if he’s able to win this then we may be in for a long season. Snow Falcon bounced back to his best at Gowran Park last time, beating the very useful Peregrine Run in fabulous style. He jumped very smoothly and scooted away in good style, but still 7/1 is a touch short if you’re playing each-way.
The forgotten horse in the race is ROAD TO RESPECT. A multiple Grade 1 winner, he has some super form to his name. He bolted up in this race last year and put in some brilliant performances subsequently, beaten a short head at Leopardstown and then third behind Frodon at Cheltenham. He’s 7/2 and that looks a big price for a horse who has a top-class record, will be fit and we know has the class to contest these big races.
ROAD TO RESPECT – 2pts WIN @ 7/2 (General)
3:20 Ascot – The Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (MW)
As always, a highly competitive affair, with 17 lining up that have ratings between 163 and 137, so it’s a high-class handicap.
The weights are headed by Black Corton, who was second in the Galway Plate on his last run off a mark of 158, so this jump up to 163 looks a tough one to overcome. However, he’s a high-class chaser who always gives his all so can never be ruled out, even though the soft ground and big field look to be against him. The soft ground and big weight could also be against 2017 winner of this race, Go Conquer, who loves Ascot, but could well be too high in the weights (3rd last year off 147, runs off 155 this year).
VINNDICATION, a Group 2 winning novice chaser last season after taking the 2m5f Noel Novices Chase here in December, manages to get into this race only carrying 11 stone despite being rated 151 and that surely gives him a great chance. Soft ground is no bother to him at all and he’s won on both of his reappearance runs in his career so far. The only question here is the step up to three miles, which is an unknown for the son of Vinnie Roe, but his trainer thinks he will stay forever and I’m of a similar opinion – the step up to this longer trip could be the making of a horse that has already reached a high level over fences. VINNDICATION could well develop into the type of horse that will be contesting Group 1 chases over three miles this season and if that’s a possibility, a mark of 151 in a handicap such as this may be an absolute gift. He’s short for a 17-runner handicap, but there could be very good reason for that.
One rival could be On The Blind Side, who has always threatened to be a very good horse for Nicky Henderson, but the hustle and bustle of a big handicap may not be for him, while Mister Malarky could be using this race as a prep for the Ladbrokes trophy at Newbury in a month’s time. However, his fourth in the RSA is a serious bit of form and the soft ground will play into his hands stamina-wise – he won the Reynoldstown here last season and he’s not one to underestimate, even if he could come on for the run.
At a bigger price, Tom George’s Double Shuffle could play a part, just 2lb higher than when second in a similar contest in soft ground at Kempton. He likes going right handed on a flat track, so if conditions don’t deteriorate too much, he’s better than his 20/1 price tag.
VINNDICATION 2pts WIN @ 4/1 (Boylesport)
NAP: VINNDICATION (3:20 Ascot)
NB: ROAD TO RESPECT (2:25 Down Royal)
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