Here are my selections for Saturday’s racing.
POPPA POUTINE (12.40 Ascot, 0.5pts each-way @6/1)
A wide-open event but POPPA POUTINE has shown a good level of form in three runs and the form of his latest handicap win reads well in the context of this race. He easily accounted for a 120-rated individual in that race and, with that said, I’m hopeful that his current mark of 122 is within his capabilities.
DRUMCLIFF (13.50 Ascot, 0.5pts each-way @10/1)
Harry Fry’s DRUMCLIFF is a quirky customer, but he’s very talented on his day. He’s a former winner over course-and-distance and his latest third at this track indicated that he could be on the way back to form. His official mark of 130 is certainly appealing from a handicapping perspective.
THYME HILL (14.25 Ascot, 2pt win @2/1)
THYME HILL won his first three starts over hurdles impressively and was unfortunate to finish a luckless fourth in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival when relinquishing his unbeaten record. However, the six-year-old looked even better on his return to action where he jumped impeccably, travelled strongly before producing a power-packed finish to see off Paisley Park in the manner of a seriously good horse.
SOJOURN (14.40 Haydock, 1pt win @10/3)
There was plenty to like about SOJOURN’s demolition job at Carlisle when last seen having made it two from three over fences. I can see the handicapper has put him up 11Ib for that victory, but I don’t think that’s enough to prevent him from winning again under favourable conditions this weekend. He’s 2-2 on heavy ground, winning by a combination of 31-lengths on each occasion. This weekend’s event demands another personal best, but I think he’s equal to the task and with even more improvement to come, he’s the one to be on given he’s low mileage, ticks plenty of boxes and will be tough to catch if granted similar tactics to last time.
ARDLETHEN (15.00 Ascot, 0.5pts each-way @8/1)
Dan Skelton’s ARDLETHEN did well to finish sixth in the Ladbrokes Trophy when last seen and is 1Ib lower this weekend. Three-miles might be the limit of his stamina, but he’s a well-handicapped individual and will handle the forecast softened ground and looks a massive each-way player carrying a light-weight.
NIGHT EDITION (15.35 Ascot, 0.5pts each-way @20/1)
LIGHTLY SQUEEZE (15.35 Ascot, 0.5pts each-way @12/1)
A host of these are in with a chance, including the David Pipe-trained NIGHT EDITION, who ran a blinder to finish a close-up second in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham Festival and looks extremely well-handicapped from just a 2Ib higher mark this weekend.
LIGHTLY SQUEEZE showed rapid improvement last term and looked almost certain to place when falling at the last in the Betfair Hurdle back in February. His sixth in the Welsh Champion Hurdle was better than the result suggested and that form continues to work out nicely. If the tongue-tie and wind operation has the desired effect, this six-year-old would have rock solid each-way claims.