COR Blimey. It’s pretty astonishing how rapidly BLACK CORTON has progressed from summer jumper into Grade 1 winner. And I reckon another big pot is his for the taking.
He held off Elegant Escape to land the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and that form has worked out nicely.
Testing ground might not be ideal but he certainly handles it and there’s no doubt Bryony Frost gets on really well with him.
Ms Parfois has taken really well to fences. After wins at Cheltenham and Newbury she came right away in the closing stages in a Listed contest at Warwick. The form of that race is not particularly strong but she stays and jumps well. That makes her a worthy opponent.
Mount Mews’ jumping wasn’t up to the job at Doncaster. He spent more time in the air than Biggles at some of the fences so he will need to improve.
THIS looks gift wrapped for GOLD PRESENT.
He’s two from two this season and is developing into a smart chaser. His novice form last season was good with his second to Tully East at the Cheltenham Festival a particularly good effort.
There’s little doubt he’s even better this season. He flew home to nail Warriors Tale at Newbury before seeing off impressive Cheltenham winner Frodon over today’s course and distance.
Nicky Henderson’s strong stayer should complete the hat-trick.
Another Venture is at the other end of the weights and arrives in great form. His attitude is good but he did make hard work of it at Hereford last time. The rise in class is likely to find him out.
Vieux Lion Rouge ran well when sixth in the Grand National last year but he’s not been at his best this term.
Regal Encore is a possible if in the mood but that’s hard to predict these days.
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GO in for the Kil.
KILDISART has done nothing wrong over hurdles. He bumped into smart Count Meribel on his debut and he looked good when winning over track and trip in November.
His first run in a handicap was decent as well. He couldn’t get past Golan Fortune at Kempton but the winner went on to finish runner-up in a hot Sandown contest next time.
Everything points to Kildisart having a big chance today.
Le Patriote wasn’t disgraced in the Lanzarote before dropping to two miles at Cheltenham. He has races in him at some stage.
Unbeaten Dieg Man has bolted up at Sedgefield and Catterick. The handicapper must have had sleepless nights over him and he clearly has plenty of ability.
Nicky Henderson’s pair Fixe Le Kap and Stowaway Magic both return to hurdles after a spell chasing. I prefer the former with the ground riding so soft.
It’s hard to argue the Betfair Ascot Chase isn’t TOP NOTCH.
Nicky Henderson’s hope is unbeaten in three previous visits to Ascot and his form is exceptional.
He wasn’t tested when winning the rearranged Peterborough Chase at Taunton just before Christmas. His defeat of subsequent King George runner-up over today’s course and distance in November is obviously great form.
I’ve great respect for Waiting Patiently. He is unbeaten in five starts over fences and he destroyed his rivals to land a Kempton Listed contest last month. This is a fair step up in grade but he did beat Politologue at Haydock last season. I’m sure he’s somewhere near this level.
Coney Island landed a Grade 1 last season and he bolted up in a three-runner race over track and trip in December.
Along with impressive Cheltenham scorer Frodon and Cue Card – a dual winner of this prize including last year – he should make sure this a great race.
Templegate’s TV Tips
Ascot 1.50 – Black Corton: ‘Grade 1 Kempton form has worked out nicely and Bryony Frost gets on really well with him’ (add to your betslip)
Haydock 2.05 – Agrapart: ‘Extremely well of at the weights and handles testing ground very well’ (add to your betslip)
Ascot 2.25 – Gold Present: ‘Nicky Henderson’s smart chaser can complete his hat-trick today’ (add to your betslip)
Wincanton 2.45 – Ch’tibello: ‘Last year’s runner-up has run well in contests won by The New One and My Tent Or Yours this season’ (add to your betslip)
Ascot 3.00 – Kildisart: ‘Has done nothing wrong over hurdles and his handicap debut run has been boosted’ (add to your betslip)
Haydock 3.15 – The Dutchman: ‘Easy Peter Marsh winner showed he had no problem around Haydock’ (add to your betslip)
Ascot 3.35 – Top Notch: ‘Unbeaten at Ascot and his form overall is exceptional’ (add to your betslip)
AGRAPART is hard to oppose as there’s a disappointing turnout for the Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle.
The Cleeve Hurdle he won at Cheltenham last month was a hot race and he handles testing ground really well.
Giving weight away to three of the runners might not be ideal but he’s still extremely well off at the weights on official ratings.
The only negative is that he was a beaten favourite in this race 12 months ago.
Zarkandar came out on top this time but he’s not getting any weight this time. Paul Nicholls’ veteran also ran a shocker over today’s course and distance in November and he’s been off the track since.
Boite made all the running to win at Taunton but will find this tougher. Donna’s Diamond and No Hassle Hoff both have plenty to find.
GO Dutch in Haydock’s Grand National Trial.
I’ve always thought THE DUTCHMAN had the potential to become a decent staying chaser. He had some solid novice form last season when trained by Sandy Thomson and he came good for Colin Tizzard when an easy winner of the Peter Marsh Chase last time.
That showed he has no problem with testing conditions at Haydock – where the ground can often be too much for some horses.
He’s shot up 13lbs in the weights but the step up to 3m4f should help him.
Blaklion has topped the ante-post betting for the Grand National since an awesome display in the Becher Chase. He has plenty of class but I’m not sure he’ll be able to give the best part of a stone to an improving horse like The Dutchman.
Wild West Wind will love the conditions. He was moving nicely when falling down the back straight in the Welsh National.
Tom George’s hope is an unexposed stayer with plenty in his favour.
Yala Enki hasn’t been at his best recently but at least he has shown he does handle testing Haydock ground.
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IT’S ten years since Katchit won this en route to Champion Hurdle glory.
There doesn’t look to be any horses capable of completing that double but I fancy CH’TIBELLO to get a deserved victory.
He was runner-up behind Yanworth in this race 12 months ago and has run well in contests won by The New One and My Tent Or Yours this season.
The ground won’t be a problem and this looks a good opportunity for Dan Skelton’s ace.
Call Me Lord is interesting. He easily won a Sandown handicap last month. He needs to go right-handed so Nicky Henderson might have been pushed into this raise in class.
Cliffs Of Dover should get his own way out in front but he needs better ground. That’s likely to find him out on his first race for more than a year.
Elgin has done well in big-field handicaps. The way this race is likely to pan out might not suit him as well.
1.15 Captain Cattistock
1.50 Black Corton
2.25 Gold Present
3.00 Kildisart (nap)
3.35 Top Notch
4.10 Templeross (treble)
4.45 Lust For Glory
1.30 Mister Chow
3.15 The Dutchman
3.50 Black Ivory
4.25 Chef Des Obeaux
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6.15 Tribal Quest
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2.20 Brother Tiger
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3.30 Make Music
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