Saturday 22nd January 2022
Author: Jordan Yates (EvRacing_)
Welcome to this week’s Saturday Preview which comes from Ascot and Haydock where there is a whole host of top-class action to get stuck in. The big race of the day is the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot where we see the highly anticipated clash between Shishkin and Energumene, I’ll be giving you my opinions on that as well as all of the other races on ITV at both tracks.
Looking back at Friday’s Preview which was Day 1 of the Lingfield Million Meeting, two winners were had on the blog. Frero Banbou, who was tipped up at 3/1 got the job done close home, and Metier returned to the winners enclosure with a stylish performance at 11/4, who was also one of my “horses to follow”.
As ever though, enjoy the preview, and if you are punting do it responsibly.
The first race to look at is the 1:25 at Haydock which is the Grade 2 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Trial over just shy of two miles. This looks all about the unbeaten Jonbon for Nicky Henderson and Aidan Coleman, who heads the betting at a short price. He’s done everything easily so far and impressed last time out when claiming a Grade 2 at Ascot in smart style, it will take a big performance to stop him here and it’s likely he’ll enhance his Cheltenham claims further.
It’s over to Ascot for their 1:45 next which is a Handicap Hurdle that’s contested over two miles and three and a half furlongs. This is a very competitive affair, of which I’ve taken a tentative alliance with Smurphy Enki at 8/1 for Chris Gordon and Tom Cannon. He posted some impressive efforts within novice company over hurdles last season, he found life tough in his first outing within handicap company but posted a much improved effort last time out when finishing second of seven at Fontwell. He’s been kept on the same mark here and if improving again he could have a say.
Back to Haydock now for their 2:00 which is the Champion Hurdle trial over two miles. In this particular affair it’s hard to see past course and distance winner Tommy’s Oscar who’s the short priced favourite for Ann Hamilton. He’s progressed through the handicap ranks in impressive style and looks well worth his place here in graded company, it’s like that his main danger will be Hunter’s Call but I think Hamilton’s charge could prove too good for them here.
The 2:20 at Ascot takes centre-stage next which is a Grade 2 Mares Hurdle that is contested over two miles and seven and a half furlongs. I’ve sided with the Willie Mullins raider here My Sister Sarah who’s an 11/4 shot under Paul Townend. She’s a smart mare on her day as she showed on her penultimate outing when winning a listed contest at Kempton by the best part of seven lengths, if turning up in that kind of form again here another bold showing would be no surprise.
Concluding the action over at Haydock for me is the 2:35 which is the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Handicap Chase over three miles and one and a half furlongs. Royal Pagaille sets the standard here on the back of his demolition job in the race last year and is the rightful favourite, and will be tough to beat. I’ve tried to take him on though and I’ve done that with Empire Steel at 5/1 for Sandy Thomson and Brian Hughes. He was travelling nice last time out when he fell at Wetherby and arrives here looking well treated, on his penultimate he also ran a solid race when second here behind the progressive Strictlyadancer. I think there could be more to come from him.
The penultimate race on this week’s preview is the 2:55 at Ascot which is a Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs. Palmers Hill arrives here on the back of consecutive victories, the latter coming over course and distance, so is the rightful favourite. It’s the McManus second-string I’ve taken a chance on though, and that’s Phoenix Way at 13/2 for Harry Fry and Kevin Brogan, who takes off three. He’s a horse that’s always had ability but has clearly had some issues along the way, he made a laboured return to the track at Newbury in November but posted one of his best efforts in a while here last month when finishing second of thirteen. He’s runs off the same mark in this and if building on that run last time he could certainly play a part.
Big Race Preview
The big race of the day comes up at 3:35 at Ascot which is of course the Clarence House Chase. The race is contested over two miles and has seen some of the best chasers to grace the turf do battle over the years. In this year’s renewal, I’m going with more heart than head as I’ve been quite vocal on social media about how this horse is my current favourite National Hunt horse in training and that’s Energumene for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. Willie is no stranger to success in the race having quite recently won the race three times with Un De Sceaux, and this horse is of a similar mould. Not quite the tearaway that UDS could be, Energumene does like to put his rivals to the sword from the front and that will be the plan here. He faces a formidable rival though in Shishkin who looks to have the world at his feet, very similar to the yards great Altior he will likely sit off the pace and kick on the afterburners in the straight in an attempt to utilise his trademark strong finish. Last year’s winner First Flow shouldn’t be dismissed, he’s a very smart in his own right but looks to have a big job on his hands to retain his crown here.