This Saturday serves up more Grade 1 action in the form of the Betfair Ascot Case. With Cheltenham just around the corner you’d think the quality racing might be finished but I’ve hardly been more excited about a race all season.
If they all turn up it will be something special I’m sure. With two horses from our “Horse to follow” blog as well as the brilliant Cue Card and a horse who it’s hard not to love in, Top Notch, it’s difficult to pick a winner. But hopefully after going through each runner in turn, we’ve landed on the victor.
Top Notch is the current favourite at the time of writing and deservedly so, a very neat and quick jumper he’s going to take all the beating. He finished 2nd in last years JLT to Yorkhill with Tingle Creek winner Politilogue back in 4th on ground that might have been a little quick to see him at his absolute best. He also finished 5th in a Champion Hurdle behind Annie Power so he’s not lacking speed. With a perfect 3 from 3 record at Ascot he really is going to be a tough nut to crack but at no bigger than 2/1 we’ll look elsewhere.
Coney Island is the first of the horses from our blog and one we were hoping would line up in the Gold Cup as we have 28/1 ante post for the race. But his campaign has not been ideal as he only reappeared in December a full year after his previous race. It was at Ascot though which helps, and it was a brilliant, if a little strange performance. He was giving 11lbs to the runner up and did seem in trouble at one point having jumped slowly and getting detached but then managed to eat up the ground and end up winning on the bridle. He should come on for that run and be a major player, my worry for him is if he struggles to travel early he might get too far back and I don’t think they will stop up front for him to catch them.
But on the other hand if he can stay with the early pace he could produce a massive performance. His trainer feels he has a little more filling out to do before he tackles the Gold Cup but if he cleans up Saturday that could all change.
Cue Card needs no introduction to any national hunt fan and will have plenty of supporters cheering him on this Saturday. This season has not gone to plan having fallen in the Charlie Hall and then being demolished by the Haydock monster that is Bristol De Mai. But back over what I believe has always been his optimum distance he has to be considered. Having won this race twice before he would bring the house down if he wins a third and you couldn’t begrudge him it. But at the age of twelve he will have it all to do against the young pretenders and hopefully he runs a good race.
Frodon is another who deserves a mention after another solid campaign for a very reliable and likeable horse. A handicapper in truth but could pick a Grade 1 along the way he will be rode quietly and ready to pick up the pieces if the principles don’t deliver.
Speredek is somewhat of a surprise package this season, a free going front runner who was the subject of a big gamble at Sandown earlier in the season and then ran a huge race to finish 2nd to Un De Sceaux in the Clarence House. He may not be my idea of the winner but he is a key runner as his pace up front will ensure a truly ran race with no place for hiding.
Waiting Patiently is the other horse from our blog and he has delivered this season with some brilliant performances. He’s a perfect 5 from 5 over fences so far in his career and hopefully Saturday he will make it six. A brilliant jumper, a strong traveller and a good turn of foot all add up to a potentially brilliant chaser. He’s a horse I simply can’t get enough of, his performance last time out where he travelled brilliantly and then quickened away from the field like a proper champion was one of my favourite performances this season.
This is no doubt his toughest task so far but I’m hoping his bubble doesn’t burst on Saturday and he puts in another huge performance. For that reason he’s my selection at 11/4 with ComeOn at the time of writing. The death of his brilliant trainer Malcolm Jefferson was very sad news last week and hopefully the horse running well and coming home safe will give some light to connections at this sad time.
Selection: Waiting Patiently 11/4