Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle Preview
Ascot stage a cracking card this Saturday, the last day of horseracing before the sport takes a two-day break prior to some mouth-watering action on Boxing Day, in particular Kempton’s 32Red King George V1 Chase which is likely to feature a stellar field headed by Might Bite, Bristol De Mai and last year’s winner Thistlecrack.
The final race at the Berkshire venue is the Grade 3 Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle which is worth a handy £85,425 to the winner. The bang in-form Elgin heads the weights on 11st 12lb for the two mile contest but the Alan King-trained five-year-old will need a career-best effort if the gelding is to defy a mark of 151 in what looks sure to be an ultra-competitive affair.
Twenty one horses remain in contention at Monday’s declaration stage with bookmakers making Charli Parcs from the stable of Nicky Henderson ( who has taken the race four times since it’s inception in 2001) the market leader at a standout 9-2 with William Hill. While the four-year-old has a clear chance based on a promising seasonal reappearance at Newbury earlier this month when second to High Bridge it is hard to understand why the third horse home there – Poppy Kay – should be as big as 25-1 ( bet365, Skybet and Betvictor ) on 1lb better terms with the Henderson runner, with just three quarters of a length separating the pair on that occasion.
In what proved a moderately-run affair Poppy Kay got tapped for speed as the pace quickened at the second-last but the mount of Richard Johnson stayed on really strongly close home and with a stronger gallop almost guaranteed this Saturday the Philip Hobbs-trained son of Kayf Tara looks way overpriced to reverse placings with the ante-post favourite. The seven-year-old has won three of his seven starts over hurdles and is more than capable of defying a current mark of 135.
Towards the bottom of the weights Colin Tizzard’s lightly-raced Newbury Maiden Hurdle winner Lostintranslation ( 6-1 generally ) could prove well handicapped while Silver Streak ( 10-1 Skybet and Betfred ) will bid to emulate his impressive victory at Chepstow back in October for trainer Evan Williams.