13:00 ASCOT

We'll start things off with a tough handicap hurdle where I think Venetia Williams’ CLOUDY GLEN  looks a tasty price.

The six-year-old has won his last two races very impressively at Haydock and Chepstow by a combined 10 lengths.

Proven to stay over 2m 3f and well-handicapped at 10-5 in this field, I think he has a strong chance for Trevor Hemmings.

14:10 ASCOT

The Swinley Chase is up next and, despite not getting his head in front since this meeting last year, I think BLACK CORTON  can get back to winning ways.

He won the Grade 2 Novices’ Chase that day, beating Ms Parfois by eight lengths, but has struggled to replicate that same form this season.

But two runner-up spots in the Charlie Hall Chase and at Kempton last time out suggest there’s still plenty of fight left in Paul Nicholls’ eight-year-old and, despite the weight given to Reikers Island, I still think he’s the one to beat.


Alan King won the Betway Kingwell Hurdle last year with Elgin, and I think he’ll repeat that triumph with SCEAU ROYAL  .

The seven-year-old was incredibly impressive when winning the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November after a 10-month absence.

A boost for his form that day is that he finished over two lengths ahead of Simply Ned, who has a victory over Footpad this season.

I think we can discount his run in the Tingle Creek as he was the fourth-best horse in that race and was probably entered simply for the run.

A course-and-distance winner who was also third in this race two years ago, I fancy him to claim the prize on Saturday. 


Moving over to Haydock for the Grand National Trial now, and I’m going to take a chance on IMPULSIVE STAR .

The nine-year-old finally got that elusive win last time out in a Grade 3 Chase at Warwick, beating a field which included the likes of Calett Mad, Cogry and Ibis Du Rheu.

He also holds a second behind Ok Corral over 3m 1f in December, so does have some nice form this season.

He has bags of stamina so shouldn’t have any issues staying the distance and, nicely-handicapped at 10-9 with Sam Waley-Cohen’s 3lb claim to add, he’s definitely got an each-way shout.

15:55 ASCOT

Finishing off with the Ascot Chase and, despite breaking my heart on Boxing Day, I’m keeping the faith with WAITING PATIENTLY .

I personally would have liked him a little closer to the pack in the King George having stepped up to 3m for the first time, but had no complaints after he was unfortunately hampered by Bristol De Mai.

Ignoring that, the eight-year-old is unbeaten over fences and won this emphatically last year ahead of Cue Card, Frodon and Top Notch.

He’s a magnificent jumper and Ruth Jefferson says he’s looking better than ever, so I think he’ll take all the beating here as he bids for favouritism in the Ryanair next month.







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