ITV Ascot And Haydock Preview

Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 13:50
8
Richard Johnson

Smarty Wild

J:
 
Richard Johnson
T:
 
Philip Hobbs
Age: 6
Weight: 10-6
OR: 130
Days: 24

It could be a big day for Philip Hobbs on Saturday and before the big one he has a big chance of landing the winner in the first race on ITV with Smarty Wild.

The six year old is a value each way contender at 8/1 having ran to a good standard on both his outings this term, being in and around the frame in similar events.

Having made the change to fences this term, he started his season off at Ascot over the same course and distance when finishing a good third behind two smart runners that have franked the form since.

Next time out he was dropped in trip and it did not suit him aswell as this distance does today and heading back to a track he likes should make him interesting.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
20/03/21KEM20.5Gd11-93
15/02/21WAR20Sft10-85
09/01/21KEM20.5GS11-21
19/12/20ASC19Hy10-63
25/11/20WET15GS11-64
Haydock - December 19 2020
Haydock 14:05
2
Robbie Power

War Lord

J:
 
Robbie Power
T:
 
Colin Tizzard
Age: 5
Weight: 11-9
OR: 138
Days: 28

The second race of the day sees us head over to Haydock for the Class 2 Handicap Hurdle over 2m3f and War Lord for Colin Tizzard will be looking to justify favouritism.

The five year old having shown fair ability over hurdles last term has really put that to the sword this year having made two starts finishing second and then getting off the mark for the season last time out.

Having finished second on seasonal debut in an 18 runner handicap hurdle at Wetherby, he then franked that form to get off the mark over course and distance at Haydock.

He has been given a ride of 7lb in the weights but with how well his form has worked out this year and his progressive nature, he looks the one to beat.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
06/03/21KEL21GS11-114
23/01/21ASC19.5Sft11-30
19/12/20HAY19Hy11-93
21/11/20HAY19Sft11-01
31/10/20WET19.5Sft11-82
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
8
Richard Johnson

Thyme Hill

J:
 
Richard Johnson
T:
 
Philip Hobbs
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 160
Days: 22

The feature race on the card is the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle over three miles and Thyme Hill for Richard Johnson is our selection to extend his superb form line.

The six year old gelding was remarkable last season winning three of his four contests in great style and showing a clear staying ability.

He started his life over hurdles at Chepstow in the Grade Two Persian War Novices Hurdle and seeing off some smart youngsters that have since gone on to frank that form including Grade One winner Fiddlerontheroof.

The gelding then went to Cheltenham in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices Hurdle and again put in a strong winning run to enhance his credentials in this division.

He was destined for big things off the back of his third in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last season and fulfilled his potential for the term when landing the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury.

He was then sent back to Cheltenham in March for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle and although suffering his first defeat over hurdles, he was a narrow fourth in a very hot Grade One.

The form of that race has worked out with the first, second and third since coming out and winning on their seasonal debuts.

Coming out of novice company on seasonal debut many were apprehensive as to how Thyme Hill would handle taking seasoned staying horses on first time out, but he was superb landing the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

The gelding saw off strong challenges from Paisley Park and McFabulous and it looks as though he will have to do it again on Saturday, seeking his second Grade One win of his career.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
19/12/20ASC24.5Hy11-72
27/11/20NBY24Gd11-31
13/03/20CHL24Sft11-54
28/12/19NBY20.5Sft11-71
16/11/19CHL21Sft11-51
Haydock - December 19 2020
Haydock 14:40
6
Robbie Power

Highest Sun

J:
 
Robbie Power
T:
 
Colin Tizzard
Age: 6
Weight: 11-5
OR: 134
Days: 21

The final race from Merseyside on Saturday is the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase over a staying trip and Highest Sun for Colin Tizzard looks a big price at 10/1.

The six year old has always threatened to hold some ability showing glimpses of form, with his run at the Cheltenham festival in the Novices' Handicap Chase being one of his best to date when seventh of 20 runners, finishing behind the superstar Imperial Aura.

This season he has had two runs, his first to blow the cobwebs away and then last time out finishing a good fourth in a 16 runner Handicap Chase at Newbury.

He is now 2lb lighter than that run and 6lb lower in the weights than his run at Cheltenham and now getting his wet conditions should be a big each way player.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/03/21ASC21Gd11-93
18/02/21SAN24Hy11-11P
19/12/20HAY25.5Hy11-54
28/11/20NBY22.5Gd11-74
10/11/20HER21GS11-115
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 15:00
3
Charlie Deutsch

Espoir De Guye

J:
 
Charlie Deutsch
T:
 
Venetia Williams
Age: 6
Weight: 11-5
OR: 150
Days: 29

The penultimate event of the day is the Listed Handicap Chase over three miles and the Venetia Williams trained Espoir De Gueye is a horse that oozes class.

The six year old has been a great recruit for the yard over the years really coming into his own in 2019 when sent over fences for the first time.

Having finished second on debut at Chepstow over two miles behind Cheltenham festival winner Simply The Betts, he then stepped up in trip at Exeter and got off the mark.

Staying at that trip he landed another nice race at Ascot beating First Flow who has since gone on to be a star over fences.

Having been pulled up at the Cheltenham festival, he made his seasonal return at November at the Berkshire track and landed a nice event over 2m5f.

Although up in the weights the gelding steps up in trip again and the further he has gone the better he has been, especially at a track he has a great record at.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
26/02/21WAR20Sft11-122
23/01/21ASC21Sft11-74
19/12/20ASC24Hy11-58
20/11/20ASC21Sft11-121
10/03/20CHL20Sft11-6P
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 15:35
15
Aidan Coleman

Time Flies By

J:
 
Aidan Coleman
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 5
Weight: 10-7
OR: 129
Days: 29

The final event of the afternoon is a very hot Grade Three Handicap Hurdle over two miles and with a decent amount of runners heading to post we have two each way punts.

The shorter price of the two is the Nicky Henderson trained Time Flies By, who at the weights look to have a serious chance getting over a stone from stablemate Buzz.

He was hit and miss over hurdles last time having shown plenty of ability on bumper debut, and he made a good return this season over 2m3f at Ascot in November finishing second to a smart one for Paul Nicholls.

The drop down in trip is a big plus today and getting that pull in the weights makes him a big player on ground he has won on before.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
19/12/20ASC15.5Hy10-79
20/11/20ASC19.5Sft11-02
25/01/20CHL20.5Sft11-55
20/12/19ASC15.5Hy11-03
17/11/19CHL16.5Sft11-02
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 15:35
11
Richard Johnson

Oakley

J:
 
Richard Johnson
T:
 
Philip Hobbs
Age: 7
Weight: 11-1
OR: 137
Days: 66

At a slightly bigger price and also getting weight off most of the field is the Philip Hobbs trained Oakley who could round off the day nicely for the trainer.

The seven year old is a bit of a handicap specialist having run in these races for the last two seasons and after some lesser performances he is now on what looks a good mark for this horse.

Having neither here nor there in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival, he made his seasonal return at Wetherby in October and finished a good third.

He runs in this race off a mark of 137 which should be workable enough especially in heavy ground which he should handle.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
19/12/20ASC15.5Hy11-16
14/10/20WET16GS11-83
13/03/20CHL17Sft11-00
08/02/20NBY16.5Gd10-127
13/12/19CHL17Sft11-112

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