Attheraces.com tipster Declan Rix has four horses to follow at Ascot on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Racing.
12.55 – LEADER IN THE PARK
Just five runners in the Class Two Bet With Ascot Donation Box Scheme Novices’ Hurdle, but it may well be an informative race going forward. The top yards of Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls are represented, but Ben Pauling’s inmate LEADER IN THE PARK is said to be above average and may upset those to the front of the market.
The son of Walk In The Park was a £250,000 purchase by Highflyer Bloodstock last February when in the care of top Irish point-to-point handler Sean Doyle, winning his only start between the flags by 56 lengths, although he was left clear at the second last by a faller.
As a half-brother to the top-class Benefficient, his pedigree and price tag suggest he could be well above average.
I’m really looking forward to seeing the return of SHISHKIN in first-time cheekpieces in the Nirvana Spa 1965 Chase. At his peak, he was one of the best horses of recent times, but that aura of invincibility is now gone. In his last five starts he has been hit and miss.
But we saw just how good he could still be in last season’s Ascot Chase over this course and 2m 5f distance, where he destroyed subsequent Grade One winner Pic D’Orhy by 16 lengths. Yes, he jumped left in parts like he has always done, but the ease at which he travelled and how he picked up really made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The son of Sholokhov took off for a couple of cracks of Nico de Boinville’s ProCush.
The preliminaries will be important, you would like to see a happy Shishkin with a little bit of fire in his belly. If so, you can see him taking this race en route to a King George festive run, which is reportedly his main early-season target.
2.05 THEATRE GLORY
Quickening ground at Ascot will play to the strengths of strong-travelling mare THEATRE GLORY, who is very much at home on a slick surface, something she rarely got last season.
The aggressive-jumping daughter of Fame And Glory is a horse blessed with plenty of natural exuberance and pace; characteristics complemented by nice ground, which may well play against the strengths of current favourite Goshen who must carry a Grade Two penalty for winning this race, the Coral Hurdle, last season.
Nicky Henderson’s inmate must also carry a penalty too, but this looks an incredibly winnable renewal if fit enough to go close on her seasonal debut. After all, Sceau Royal is soon to be 12, while Strong Leader is a hard horse to weigh up and Blueking D’Oroux takes a big step up in class.
3.15 TRIPLE TRADE
With the likes of Aucunrisque, Corrigeen Rock and Saint Segal declared, we should have a well-run, maybe even strongly-run, Jim Barry Hurst Park Handicap Chase. Likely favourite, the in-form Boothill will take plenty of beating based on his course-and-distance success 21 days ago, but, at a bigger price, TRIPLE TRADE is worth considering.
He too has returned in great order this season, running second at Cheltenham’s October fixture before winning a Class Two handicap at last week’s November meeting. The seven-year-old backs up relatively quickly, just nine days, but his recent profile suggests he is not only a progressive sort, but a horse who takes his racing well.
The slight step up in trip and a more galloping track look a big plus, as in his recent runs you just got the feeling he was in top gear in certain parts of the races. That is no surprise given he has already won over 2m 4f, and right-handed too.
He looks a big each-way player in a race with some horses out of form and others who maybe will not stay as well as him.
Watch all the action from Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing on Saturday with the first race at 12.20pm.
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