Windsor is the beneficiary of Ascot having the builders in, with two high-class races transferred from just up the road giving a boost to the card. The feature Long Walk hurdle is a rehearsal for the Stayers’ at Cheltenham in three months time but with Baracouda not entered due to a secretarial error this will surely be a penalty kick for reigning three-mile hurdler Inglis Drever. The bookies have priced the race accordingly and unless you are of a mind to buy some money this is not a betting race.
The totesport Handicap Chase is far more interesting for the punter. A decent field has assembled and there are some familiar names among its ranks. However, it may pay to try to spot a rising star near the foot of the weights and ex-French Ladalko fits the bill. Strictly, speaking he has achieved little over fences. His last win was in a Class E amateur riders contest and this is a big step up in grade.
However, Ladalko is very well handicapped considering his hurdles exploits last term. He won two classy novice events, the Winter Novices’ Hurdle and the Challow Hurdle and if he can translate that form to the bigger obstacles he has a very good chance. Paul Nicholls thought this horse was good enough to contest the big novice chasing prizes last season, but a fall when favourite at Sandown on his debut seemed to dent his confidence. Ladalko is only six so there is plenty of room for improvement and the strong form of the yard is a big plus.
At Haydock the Tim Molony Handicap Chase looks tailor-made for Native Ivy. He won the Amlin Chase at Sandown on his seasonal bow, making it two from two over fences. His trainer Colin Tinkler says that all the horse does is stay and jump, fine attributes for this gruelling contest over Haydock’s difficult drop fences. The fact he is not from one of the fashionable yards should also mean he is a decent price.
1:40 Windsor Ladalko (win)
2:05 Haydock Native Ivy (win or each-way)