HAYDOCK, Newcastle and Ascot all have tasty looking cards Saturday, with the superstar BIG BUCKS aiming to take his third successive Long Walk Hurdle for the Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh partnership.
The ‘Lough Derg Long Walk Hurdle’, to give it its new official name, looks a foregone conclusion with Big Bucks viewed as a licence to print money leaving the Ladbroke Hurdle as the most interesting race on the Ascot card. A £160,000 race with some exciting horses on display, The Ladbroke is invariably an interesting race.
Nicky Henderson has a good record in it and has both Gibb River and Rajdhani Express at his disposal. Stable jockey Barry Geraghty is expected to choose to ride the former. Paul Nicholls has the favourite in Supreme Novice Hurdle fancy Prospect Wells, with Ruby confirmed on board, as well as consistent sorts Brampour and Tonic Mellyse.
The value may lie elsewhere, with the Alan King trained RAYA STAR and the Gary Moore trained VIA GALILEI. Both look to have good claims. Raya Star ran a creditable third behind Rock On Ruby and Empire Levant, a horse who was 20lb well in, and a Neptune runner up, last time out at Newbury. It was only his second start this season and he is still open to improvement. Via Galilei is a consistent yardstick who ran another tough race last time out at Sandown in a Listed Hurdle after two solid runs behind Brampour. He’s 5lb well in and is likely to give another good account.
Red hot John Wade is a man in exceptional form as of late, with five winners from his last eleven runners, and he has two more chances at Newcastle with LITTLE HERCULES and INDIAN GROOM. Both are due to be ridden by the useful Wilson Renwick, former stable jockey to Howard Johnson.
Little Hercules runs in the 1.05, a handicap hurdle over two miles, and looks to have been laid out for such a race. The King’s Theatre gelded was an unlucky second on his seasonal debut, losing by a neck to Desert Cry under Jason McGuire’s comeback ride, and the form is working out well with the 5th, 7th and 8th all running well next time out. Similarly Indian Groom made an eye-catching reappearance, finishing fifth over a trip that stretched the versatile grey’s stamina and, given his winning form on different conditions, he should go well whatever the going over a more satisfactory trip.
WYMOTT is a horse held in high regard by trainer Donald McCain, and he can build on what looks on paper to be a good sixth placed finish in this year’s Hennessy. The Giant Bolster who finished behind him, finished two lengths behind Time for Rupert in a Graduation Chase at Newbury in the week. Wymott was a progressive novice chaser last season, the only blemish occurring when pulling up with an injury in last years RSA Chase. He jumps and travels well, looks to have a lenient mark and has stable jockey Jason McGuire back on board.
13.05 (Newcastle) Little Hercules (Nap)
13.35 (Newcastle) Indian Groom
14.45 (Haydock) Wymott
15.35 (Ascot) Via Galilei (Ew) & Raya Star (Ew)