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YOU BET: Nicholls eyes Ascot triumph
JUMPING fans are well catered for this weekend with meetings scheduled for Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton.
Ascot’s feature is the Victor Chandler Chase where the Paul Nicholls-trained Al Ferof will be a warm tip to lift another big Saturday prize for the Somerset trainer.
Unbeaten in novice chases at Cheltenham and Sandown, Al Ferof can keep up the record of the trainer who has won the race for the past three years.
Opposition includes the Nicky Henderson-trained Finian’s Rainbow, with the Seven Barrows yard at Lambourn flying at the moment.
The nine year old partnered by Barry Geraghty is sure to have plenty of followers, as will the Colin Tizzard-trained Oiseau de Nuit, the west country yard successful last weekend with Hey Big Spender 14/1, the column’s selection.
Al Ferof is the obvious pick, but with just a small field going to post perhaps a small dual forecast with the Philip Hobbs-trained Wishful Thinking is in order.
Our Girl Salley could provide another winner for Geraghty at the meeting in the Grade Two Mares Hurdle for Irish trainer Mrs Prunella Dobbs.
At Haydock, all eyes will be on the Stan James Champion Hurdle Trial, where only five runners go to post, including Nicholls’ Celestial Halo and the Barbury Castle duo of Smad Place and Torpichen.
Should the going be on the heavy side, the Alan King-trained Torpichen could be worth interest.
A strong field of chasers is expected to contest the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Chase, including According To Pete a winner at Wetherby last month, former Grand National winner Mon Mome and the column’s selection Crescent Island, the mount of Jason Maguire.
Wincanton stages a competitive-looking card where it could pay to follow the fortunes of Nicholls, who enjoys plenty of success on his local course.
However, if the Wroughton-trained Valid Point goes to post in the Bathwick Tyres Dorchester Handicap Chase he could chalk up a victory for trainer Jim Old at a good price.
All-weather followers have a seven race card at Lingfield where the one mile Marsh Green Maiden Stakes could go to Richard Fahy-trained Dubawi Cheetah, the mount of champion jockey Paul Hanagan.
Another likely winner on the card could be the Ron Harris-trained Faraway in the six furlong Selling Stakes and, in the feature six furlong handicap, champion jockey Hanagan could land a quick double on board Alben Star. In the last race, one of the leading all-weather jockeys Adam Kirby could send backers home happy by winning on Masters Club.