Katie Walsh: Ones to watch at Ascot, Wetherby, Down Royal
In her second blog of the season, the Betway ambassador reveals her top tips for the weekend, including the one horse who really catches her eye.
The National Hunt season stepped up a gear last weekend after we had some proper winter weather lashing down.
Most trainers will welcome plenty of rain as it helps the getheir horses out on the grass at home.
There is plenty of racing to get stuck into this weekend with a good card at Ascot, the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and, on this side of the Irish Sea, there is a superb card at Down Royal, which always marks the start of the jumps season proper over here.
Samcro is back
It was great to see Samcro be successful on his chase debut at Down Royal today.
He tanked through the race and jumped brilliantly and, while I think he’ll stay 3m in time, I certainly don’t think he needs it at this stage of his career.
He’s a hugely exciting prospect for his connections this winter.
The Charlie Hall Chase (15:40) is as competitive as ever, but I do like the mare La Bague Au Roi .
She is tough and game and has plenty of pace to boot and, if she gets into a good jumping rhythm, she’ll be very hard to pass.
It’s fantastic to see a mare able to compete in all these top races, and it must be thoroughly exciting for her connections to have such a wonderful horse to go to war with.
Envoi Allen makes his hurdling debut (13:15) and I’m looking forward to seeing him back in action.
It’s a long season and he’s sure to come on for the run, but it’d be great to see him come out and stamp his authority. The excitement builds at this time of year as these young horses take the next step in their careers. Gordon’s horses are flying and it’s hard to see him getting beaten here.
I really like Delta Work in the Grade 1 Chase (14:25).
He was unlucky not to remain unbeaten last season as he didn’t get the most luck at Cheltenham in the RSA.
He’ll keep on improving this season, so I do think he’ll come forward from whatever he does in this.
It’s great that Paul Nicholls brings horses over to Down Royal – it really adds to the day and makes it more competitive, which is only a good thing for racing.
There’s one horse at Ascot who really catches my eye this weekend, and that is Lisp in the Listed Handicap Hurdle (14:45).
He has top weight, so it’ll be no easy task, but this horse improved no end last season, finishing off with a very good fifth in the County Hurdle.
Tom Cannon takes the ride and I’m sure he’ll ride most of the Alan King horses this season following the surprise retirement of Wayne Hutchinson.
It’s always good when a jockey goes out on their own terms and he’ll be fondly missed in the weighing room. Good luck, Hutch!
Sunday at Cork
Dad runs Any Second Now in the Grade 3 Novice Chase. He’s a proven handicapper against novices who should run his race.
He was a good winner of the Kim Muir at Cheltenham Festival in March but never got to run his race in the Irish National as he fell after just eight fences.
He’s up against horses with race fitness on their side here, but it’s a lovely place to start his season and, make no mistake, he’ll improve plenty for this run.
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