Andy Stephens was on the mark with Newbury winner Indy Five, advised at 12-1, in his How To Bet £20 column last week.
By Andy Stephens
There is something for everyone in Britain today: a Champion Hurdle trial, a Grand National trial and an excellent Grade One contest at Ascot that is definitely not a trial as it features a dual winner of the race, four horses who won decisively last time out, plus another, Speredek, who put up a personal best last time behind Un De Sceaux.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, Willie Mullins has decided against running Douvan at Gowran Park but the very fact that he entertained the idea, two months after ruling him out for the season, shows that it pays to expect the unexpected when it comes to racing.
Decent bets look thin on the ground for Saturday and I have sympathy for those who studied the five-day acceptors for Ascot (excluding the feature race) because 110 entries have shrunk to 46. That makes for a lot of wasted ink.
Here’s where my cash will be going:
Last month I suggested backing Call Me Lord at 40-1 for the Champion Hurdle with the firms going non-runner no-bet in the belief that if he won the Betfair Hurdle his price would tumble - and that if he did not win he would probably miss the big one at Cheltenham and we would get our money back.
As it transpired, Call Me Lord skipped the Newbury feature to instead run in this more traditional trial.
The theory remains the same and I’m not going to pass him over because he looked like a horse destined for the top when when giving lumps of weight and a beating to the bang in-form Our Merlin at Sandown last time.
I’ll be backing him to beat Ch’Tibello, who was edged out by The New One at Haydock on his latest start and rates the obvious threat.
With the heavy ground drying out and likely to be gluey, this is going to get attritional.
Blaklion has a class edge but he has to concede lumps of weight and the Grand National favourite, using this as a stepping stone to Aintree, looks too skinny at a best price of 5-2.
Daklondike was my original pick but he's a non-runner and so I'll risk Three Faces West at a general 6-1. He needs to brush up his jumping and avoid getting into a battle for the lead with Wild West Wind and Yala Enki, but he was travelling smoothly at the head of affairs when exiting at the 12th fence in the Tommy Whittle here last time and his previous efforts at Haydock read 131.
There's little doubt Philip Hobbs' charge still has more to offer in staying contests and Blaklion faces no easy task conceding 17lb to him.Top Notch can preserve his unbeaten record at Ascot (PA)
A renewal with plenty of depth but it is difficult to get away from the favourite, Top Notch, who is 3-3 at the track (hurdles and fences) and goes from strength to strength.
He won as he was entitled at Taunton last time but the form of his previous emphatic win over course and distance in November, at the main expense of Double Shuffle and Frodon, has a glow.
The runner-up went on to chase home Might Bite in the King George and Frodon subsequently hacked up in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham.
Waiting Patiently is progressive and looks the one for the forecast because Cue Card has questions to answer and Coney Island has a lot more on his plate than when winning here on his belated return.
Several of these arrive here in good form and Kingston Kurrajong is interesting tried in a visor for his new yard, but the one who makes most appeal is Arsenio Lupin.
The Denis Quinn-trained four-year-old, chalked up at 12-1 by most firms,has been off seven months but that could be a plus given his record when fresh. Other positives are that he has had a wind operation since we last saw him in action and that his burden is reduced by 7lb-claimer Harry Burns.
Arsenio Lupin’s best efforts have been on the all-weather, over this trip, and the pick of his form suggest he can exploit a mark of 75.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday:
2.45 Wincanton: £4 Exacta on Call Me Lord to beat Ch'Tibello
3.15 Haydock: £4 win on Three Faces West at 13-2 with Betfair and Paddy Power
3.35 Ascot: £3 win on Top Notch at a general 2-1
3.35 Ascot: £3 Exacta on Top Notch to beat Waiting Patiently
8.15 Kempton: £3 each-way on Arsenio Lupin at a general 12-1
£1 Win Lucky Fifteen (William Hill prices in brackets)
2.45 Wincanton: Call Me Lord (13-8)
3.15 Haydock: Three Faces West (6-1)
3.35 Ascot: Top Notch (2-1)
8.15 Kempton: Arsenio Lupin
Plus £2.50 each-way on Arsenio Lupin at a general 12-1
Select any odd to add a bet