Ascot & Haydock selections Saturday 13th May
Jockey Kevin Stott has made a tremendous start to his link up with Amo Racing and that partnership can bear serious fruit at Ascot today with two strong chances in the big handicaps I am concentrating on at Ascot. Haydock stages the only remaining mixed meeting in Britain and I hope to have found some value against the favourites in the two competitive hurdles staged. Call MY Bluff placed for the each-way bet in the Chester Cup yesterday (advised 11/2).
Ascot 1.30: Sir Rumi
SIR RUMI is building up a really serious group of results on soft ground and can put his love of testing conditions to good use in the opener at Ascot.
He was largely kept to fast ground earlier in his career, but was in danger of not fulfilling his potential, though he did win on good at Newbury last September. However he did finish last season well with a good second to the talented Israr at Doncaster on heavy.
He then started this term under similar conditions at the same track when second again to Bucephalus over an inadequate 10f. He made no show on the All Weather at Kempton a week later but bounce back in the Great Metropolitan at Epsom when finding a run up the near rail, a tactic that often works on testing ground. I have doubts over his main market rivals here as Nathanael Greene will probably want further/headgear in time and High Fibre has a long absence to overcome and is unproven on soft.
Haydock 1.35: Pounding Poet & Pull Again Green
A warm day is expected on Merseyside, which should dry out the ground by race time nicely for my two hopefuls.
POUNDING POET is a good ground specialist who has raced sparingly with a spring campaign in mind. He won both last spring at Market Rasen, and in the autumn at Uttoxeter before the rains arrived, but was then kept fresh for Aintree. After a four month absence, he ran a cracker there in chasing home West Balboa, first time cheekpieces appearing to suit well.
The same headgear stays in place here and a 2lb increase in rating is not a serious imposition for a 7yo who ought to have more to give. There was still some give in the going at Aintree so conditions today ought to be even more favourable. That run was his third time filling the runners-up spot at the track, so this very similarly configured track should be to his liking.
The price of PULL AGAIN GREEN tempts me into another each-way wager. His four runs last season seemed to be increasingly disappointing but there were excuses. He did not take to chasing so is forgiven two adequate but modest efforts over the bigger obstacles. He then ran twice on very wet days where softening ground was against him, so again his two runs in mid-division are overlooked.
When he last ran over hurdles on good ground, he was an emphatic winner of a spring novice hurdle at Cheltenham over a decent yardstick in Royaume Uni. He stormed up the hill over 2m4f that day to make you think his stamina over 3m should last out, especially on a sharp track like Haydock. With promising 5lb claimer Jack Hogan taking off 5lbs, his already tumbling mark of 129 looks even more favourable if he can recapture his best on more appropriate going.
Ascot 2.40: Vafortino & Baradar
Any number can be given a chance here, especially as many of them are proven on soft ground. One factor here could be a lack of potential early pace, so my two will both go on the ground, but both have shown the ability before to quicken up, which could be important today.
VAFORTINO won this race last year so his ability in a big field is assured. He disappointed after this in midsummer in similar races, but it could simply be that he needs some cut, something he seemed to confirm when he came back to win at Goodwood on good-to-soft.
He has started this campaign well with placed efforts on the sand at Kempton and then behind Rebel Territory at Newmarket, again with some cut last month. He is 2lbs better off and most likely better drawn than that rival today and I suspect Vafortino will have been trained to peak with this race in mind.
However preference would be for BARADAR who I fancied for the Lincoln and looked all over the winner a furlong out before being outlasted by our other selection Migration. It appeared that although he loved the heavy ground that day, the mile just tested his stamina too much, so the drop back to 7f makes perfect sense here.
Able to race off the same mark of 97 today, he looks a winner in waiting off soft ground and the application of a tongue strap might also help him maintain his effort through to the finish. The way he travelled at Doncaster marks him down as the ideal type for big field handicaps.
Haydock 3.15: Parisencore & Homme Public
The 2023 Swinton looks a solid renewal but I am keen to take on the younger horses at the head of the market with two more used to big field handicaps.
First choice is PARISENCORE who ran a solid race from 4lbs out of the handicap in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr recently, confirming a liking for good going. The race that day was run to suit the winner Rubaud, who got an easy lead, but a stronger gallop today should suit my selection.
He won easily in a novice here last year and ran well in the Country Hurdle Trial at Musselburgh, so a tight track like Haydock holds no fears for him. He has not had a hard campaign as this will be just his fifth run, and he started the winter well with a comfortable win on decent ground at Wetherby, a very similar track to here.
At huge odds HOMME PUBLIC offers decent each-way value too. He surely proved beyond doubt that he does not really stay beyond 2m at Cheltenham last time, something that appeared to be the case upped in trip at Ascot in February.
However he won well at Huntingdon on his last go at 2m, a very sharp track too. Just like Parisencore, he also started this campaign with a very easy win at Wetherby on good ground and the combination of going and a strong pace today will play right into his hands. Admittedly he has got little in hand of the handicapper, but this should set up perfectly into the way Homme Public likes to race, so I can easily see him staying on into the top five at a big price.
1pt win – Sur Rumi – 1.30 Ascot – 100/30 general
0.5pts each-way – Pounding Poet – 1.35 Haydock – 22/1 Skybet (1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt each-way – Pull Again Green – 1.35 Haydock – 12/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.5pts each-way – Vafortino – 2.40 Ascot – 16/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt each-way – Baradar – 2.40 Ascot – 17/2 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt each-way – Parisencore – 3.15 Haydock – 14/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.5pts each-way – Homme Public – 3.15 Haydock – 33/1 Bet365, William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 5)