How To Bet Your £20 on Saturday: Boys look man enough for tasks
Friday 17 February 2017
Cue Card is the most likely winner of the Betfair Ascot Chase (3.35) on Saturday but whether he warrants being a best-priced 4-9 is a different matter.
The 11-year-old has been a fantastic flagbearer for the winter game but the simple truth is that he has not run to anything like his official mark of 170 on two of his three starts this term - on his return at Wetherby or on his latest start in the King George, when all out to hold on for second place from Silviniaco Conti (since well beaten) and the 155-rated Tea For Two.
In between, his defeat of the rusty Coneygree on bottomless ground at Haydock is also hard to read.
The drop back to 2m5f is another niggle because he looks a thorough stayer these days.
By contrast, Taquin Du Seuil is running over his optimum trip and, at a general 8-1, has to be the each-way alternative.
Jonjo O’Neill’s charge has never quite hit the heights expected of him since his defeat of Uxizandre in the JLT Chase at the Cheltenham Festival three years ago but he was tenacious when carrying 11st 11lb to victory in the BetVictor Gold Cup in November and has since finished a creditable fifth in the Lexus Chase over a trip beyond his best.
I much prefer him to front-running Royal Regatta, who goes well at Ascot but would prefer better ground.
Earlier on the card, it is hard to resist risking O’Faolains Boy in the Keltbray Swinley Chase (2.25).
The Rebecca Curtis-trained 10-year-old is evidently more fragile than most and has been off for 11 months, but he is one of my ante-post fancies for the Grand National and is too well handicapped, running off a mark of 148, to let slide.
Curtis said earlier this week she had never had him better and he has gone well fresh in the past. For instance, he was effectively having his first start of the campaign when hammering Sausalito Sunrise by 15 lengths at Newbury last term and he now meets that rival on 7lb better terms.
Given his problems, he is probably not the kind of horse you would send to the races under prepared and it is probably no coincidence he has had his powder kept dry until after the weights for the Grand National have been announced.
Another fancy on the Ascot card is Arpege D’Alene in the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase (1.50).
This grey is my idea of this season’s 4m National Hunt Chase winner but conditions at the Berkshire venue will bring his stamina into play and it is also encouraging that he was 2-2 at the track over hurdles - on the latter occasion beating Tea For Two.
He ran well in handicap company at Cheltenham last time, having previously had Label Des Obeaux and Laurium behind when second at that track.
The Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock is usually a slog in a bog but the word “good” has crept into the going description this time and that will make for a different kind of test.
A mix of speed and stamina will be required and that can help Gas Line Boy, who will be ridden by the excellent Adrian Heskin for the first time, take the spoils.
The 11-year-old, trained by Ian Williams, is the only habitual front-runner in the line-up and he can be hard to peg back when getting into a rhythm.
That was the case at Kelso on his penultimate start when he put seven rivals to the sword a long way from home and won with any amount in hand.
He was raised 9lb for that success but indicated his new mark was not beyond him when fourth in the fiercely competitive veterans’ final over 3m at Sandown last month.
That effort deserves marking up because he was unable to get to the front and was without his usual visor. He could never quite get in his comfort zone, especially over the Railway fences, but nevertheless kept on willingly to be beaten about seven lengths.
Gas Line Boy was pulled up in last year’s Grand National Trial but simply got stuck in the mud after running well for a long way. The winning time was 8min 33sec but, on good to soft going, I reckon they will finish a minute quicker this time.
He does boast winning form over course and distance, and might well have won the Peter Marsh at the track last year, too, but for unseating his rider five out. The 14-1 available with Betfair looks very fair.
Heskin also rides the promising The Worlds End in the Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices' Hurdle (3.50) but this one looks to have his work cut out conceding 7lb to No Hassle Hoff, who was touched off in a similar race at Doncaster last time after a good third to Wholestone at Cheltenham.
Finally, the best bet on the card at Wincanton looks Grey Gold in the Betway Best Odds Guaranteed Plus Handicap Chase (3.55).
Kerry Lee’s admirable veteran looked on great terms with himself when repelling all challengers at Sandown a fortnight ago and, only 4lb higher with conditions still very much in his favour, he can go in again.
How to bet £20 on Saturday:
1.50 Ascot: Arpege D’Alene £3 win at 2-1 with Sky Bet
2.25 Ascot: O’Faolains Boy £3 win at a general 9-2
3.15 Haydock: Gas Line Boy £4 win at 14-1 with Betfair and Betway
3.35 Ascot: Taquin Du Seuil £2 each-way at a general 8-1
3.50 Haydock: No Hassle Hoff £3 win at 9-4 with Betfair
3.55 Wincanton: Grey Gold £3 win at a general 15-8
£1.50 Win Patent
1.50 Ascot: Arpege D’Alene
3.15 Haydock: Gas Line Boy
3.55 Wincanton: Grey Gold
50p Win Patent
2.25 Ascot: O’Faolains Boy
3.35 Ascot: Taquin Du Seuil
3.50 Haydock: No Hassle Hoff
Plus 10p Win Heinz on all six above and 15p each-way accumulator
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