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Lucky Loader Previews ITV Racing at Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton

Plenty of horses will be out on show at Ascot, Haydock, and Wincanton this weekend as they have their final runs before the Cheltenham Festival. Our racing expert, Lucky Loader, takes you through the ITV action on Saturday.

1.50 Ascot – Kilbeg King (Win)

I have a feeling that Kilbeg King might be overlooked for this race. He’s not got the sexy profile of Apple Away, but I think he has been improving with each of his runs over fences. The last time we saw him was on Boxing Day, when he finished a respectable third in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton behind Ile Est Francais and Hermes Allen.

He made up a lot of headway once he turned in for home and probably wasn’t suited by the sharp nature of the track. I think Ascot will be more to his liking, and the stiff finish up the home straight will suit him. The son of Doyen is currently 14/1 for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and that could be a big price if he were to win here. His trainer, Anthony Honeyball, trod the same path as Ms Parfois, who finished second in this race before going on to finish a close second in the same race at Cheltenham in 2018, so I think he could follow a similar route and go one better here.

2.25 Ascot – Irish Hill (Each Way)

This is a competitive handicap, but I am going to take a chance on Irish Hill each-way. It’s fair to see he might have been a little bit frustrating at times this season, but I think there was enough encouragement from his second at Newbury in December to suggest the ability is still there. He’s started to come down the weights and is now 3lb lower than when winning this race last year. Moreover Freddie Gingell is booked for the ride and he’ll be taking a handy 5lb of his back. I would be disappointed if he couldn’t at least make the frame.

3.00 – Ascot – Shan Blue (Each Way)

Shan Blue has never quite recovered from that fall when he looked like he was about to bolt up in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in 2021. However, he took a step back in the right direction when finishing third over 2m4f at this track in December. That form has been boosted as the second in that race, Harpers Brook, subsequently went on to win at Sandown. The 10-year-old gelding is now 1lb higher than his last run, but he should be suited by this step up in distance, and on his old form, he is well treated. I’m expecting a bold run for the Skelton’s. 

3.36 Ascot – Ahoy Senor (Win)

Despite there only being four runners in the field, the Betfair Ascot Chase isn’t a straightforward puzzle to solve. L’Homme Presse won well at Lingfield after returning from a long absence, but I am worried about the bounce factor with him. Pic D’Orhy is the solid one, and he ran well to finish second at Banbridge at Kempton, but I think he might have had a hard race. The one at the price who is too big is Ahoy Senor. It’s a shrewd ploy by Lucinda Russell to drop him back in distance to 2m5f. He hasn’t raced over this trip since October 2021, but the way he likes to bully the opposition from the front could see him to good effect. We know he’s a horse that tends to come good in the spring, but he ran well for a long way when finishing fourth in the Cotswolds Chase at Cheltenham. I’m going to side with him to get another deserved Grade 1 over fences here.

2.40 Haydock – Botox Has (Win)

By the process of elimination, I have landed on Botox Has, but this isn’t a strong selection. He comes into this race with some of his best recent form on offer, which included a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. He will be giving a 6lb penalty away for his win in the West Yorkshire Hurdle, but I think he’ll be able to cope with it. Butch might have a load of one’s next to his name, but all those recent wins came in handicap company, and this is a step up on proper Haydock heavy ground.

3.15 Haydock – Iwilldoit (Each Way)

You’re certainly going to need to stay well to win this, and that’s why I am siding with Iwilldoit.The son of Flying Legend has had an excellent career over marathon trips, winning the Welsh National and Classic Handicap Chases at Warwick. The last time we saw him, he didn’t run that badly when carrying a heavyweight in the Welsh National at Chepstow. Useful 7lb conditional Dylan Johnston rode him on that occasion, and he keeps the ride again here, which will help Sam Thomas’ stable star. Iron Bridge was ahead of the selection in the Welsh National when finishing second, but I am not that convinced by him, and I don’t think he’s that well handicapped. He’s a talking horse, in my opinion, who has a lot to prove.

2.05 Wincanton – Nemean Lion (Win)

Cases can be made for the whole field, but Nemean Lion is still on an upward curve. He’s been holding his form well this season and ran a good race to finish second in the Lanzarote at Kempton last month. This could end up being a test of stamina over the trip, and that will be right up his street. Rubaud has been respectable in defeat behind the likes of Constitution Hill, but he wouldn’t want the ground too soft and might not have conditions to suit here.

NAP Of The Day: 1.50 Ascot – Kilbeg King 

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Plenty of horses will be out on show at Ascot, Haydock, and Wincanton this weekend as they have their final runs before the Cheltenham Festival. Our racing expert, Lucky Loader, takes you through the ITV action on Saturday.
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