ASCOT PLAN AN inspection for 8am this morning to assess the effects of the snow showers and freezing temperatures forecast for last night.
If it goes ahead, the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle (14:30) is the main event of the day and Big Buck’s should add another £42,000 in prize money to the Stewart family’s coffers. Quoted as short as 2/7 to win, his nearest challenger Dynaste is available at 6/1. The latter has risen 18 lbs in the ratings for his win in a handicap hurdle at Haydock in mid-November but that still leaves him rated 16 lbs inferior to our favourite.
Restless Harry returns to hurdles after a couple of placed efforts over fences. Prior to these, he beat Fair Along by an impressive 20 lengths in a Grade 2 hurdle at Wetherby at the end of October. However he is well held by the favourite on all their previous form.
BIG BUCK’S is still only an eight-year=old, and although he always seems to do just enough, it would be a huge shock to see him beaten here.
Navan stages two graded races on Sunday where the feature is the Grade 1 Navan Novices Hurdle (13:05) . A disappointing entry list sees just four challengers going to post but it is an intriguing contest nontheless.
Having been transferred to Willie Mullins over the summer, Boston Bob was a very easy winner of a maiden hurdle race at Navan on his seasonal debut in mid-November. Nothing has come out of the race since to frank the form so it’s interesting that Willie Mullins throws him straight into a Grade 1 contest.
Ipsos Du Berlais represents the Gigginstown/Noel Meade combination. He was a beaten odds-on favourite last time out in a four-horse race and could find a couple too good for him here. Jessica Harrington’s Jetson looks to be well held by the likely favourite Mount Benbulben. The latter had to fight to beat Rebel Fitz three weeks ago at the same course in the Grade 2 Monksfield Hurdle.
I’m inclined to go for experience over potential and think that MOUNT BENBULBEN will just shade it.
Navan also hosts the Grade 2 Future Champions Bumper. Seven runners go to post and they all have winning form; Blue Bicycle, Rory O’Moore and The Amarillo Kid have all scored recently.
Bridget’s Pet was an impressive 11-length winner at Galway in October while Shu Lewis, who should benefit from the stronger handling of Robbie McNamara, ran up a hat-trick before been beaten by Thynetocatcher here in late November.
However the one I like is DON COSSACK. Highly regarded by his connections he was, in the words of his trainer, mightily impressive when winning a Bumper at Naas in late October by 18 lengths. He is only a four-year-old but would be open to more improvement than some of the others and I make him the selection.
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