Our weekend racing tipster Valiramix has two each way selections at Ascot in two competitive handicap hurdles.
Ascot 12:45 – Sybarite
Sybarite had his first start back under rules since March 2012, when he contested a very strong maiden hurdle at this venue on November. When he was defeated by Relax at Leicester 21 months ago, he had started to look like he was very much going the wrong way.
However he was revitalised by a switch to the point to point circuit last season and he ran up an impressive sequence of wins in some of the more competitive races on the circuit. His victories included an Open at Horseheath, an Open at Paxford and the very competitive Lady Dudley Cup at Chaddesley Corbett in April. He finished the season as the Top Young Horse in Points, edging out the very promising Mendip Express by 50 points to 48.
Sybarite returned to rules action in a 2m4f maiden at this course last month and he went off a surprisingly short price of 7/2 for that contest. It looked a strong race on paper and that proved to be the case. It also looked to be on the sharp side for him on good/soft ground and he was readily outpaced before they turned or home. However he stayed on well up the straight to finish 6th and left the clear impression that he would improve for the run and a step up in distance. That race has worked out exceptionally well with the 2nd Champagne West, 3rd Knock House, 5th Brother Brian and the 7th Vikehal, all winning on their next start.
Sybarite was rated 130 over hurdles back in 2011 and had the same rating over fences in the 2011-12 season. There is no clear indication that he has regressed and indeed his form in the point to point field suggests that he should be able to achieve a rating of 130 when he eventually races over fences again. However there is definitely an opportunity to exploit the hurdles rating of 112 which he has in this novices’ handicap hurdle tomorrow and 3 miles on soft ground should prove to be suitable. The Nigel Twiston Davies team was quiet during October and some of November, but they have bounced back very well since then. His horses are running well at the moment as his Cheltenham double of Double Ross and The New One proved last weekend.
Sybarite looks a big price at 12/1 in this contest and is worth supporting each way.
Ascot 3:35 – Chatterbox
Nicky Henderson supplies the favourite in this race in the shape of Rolling Star but he looks quite harshly handicapped on a mark of 150 and this is a big ask of a four year old to carry joint top weight in a race of this nature on soft ground.
It is his stable companion Chatterbox who makes much more appeal off 11-4 and with a handicap rating of 143. Barry Geraghty has clearly selected Rolling Star but that is not surprising as all the indications are that Chatterbox is a horse that does not impressive at home and he reserves his best for the racecourse. He has been the Henderson second string in the past, but it this not stop him overturning My Tent Or Yours at Newbury last December. He won at Newbury the following month and then ran a very solid race behind The New One in a red hot Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. His jumping was a little sticky on this occasion and he ultimately paid the price for this, while also looking like a step down in trip may also suit.
Chatterbox returned to action last month at the Newbury Hennessy meeting when he ran an excellent race to finish 2nd to the enterprisingly ridden Ifandbutwhynot in the race formerly known as the Gerry Feidlen Hurdle, but now under the Bet365 banner. He travelled like the winner for a long way in this race, but his lack of a run seemed to find him out and he tired after the last. That outing should have put him spot on for this assignment and as a son of Poliglote he should relish these softer conditions (which he showed last year when springing his Newbury surprise).
It is obviously a competitive race as the Ladbroke is every year, but there would be doubts about many of the market leaders. Rolling Star and the 4 year olds in general do not look especially well handicapped, while the ground may be against the Willie Mullins trained City Slicker.
It may be that two horses at the bottom of the weights could emerge as the biggest dangers to our selection with both Totalize and Willow’s Saviour respected. The latter still looks to be improving and if he can prove as effective on softer ground than he has encountered on his last two starts, he is possibly worth an interest each way. However we will confine our stakes to Chatterbox, who is 8/1 currently but could drift pre-race as the perceived second string.
1.25 points each way Sybarite – Ascot 12:45 at 12/1 with Ladbrokes and Betfred (best odds guaranteed)
1 point each way Chatterbox – Ascot 3:35 at 8/1 with Bet365 and Boylesports (best odds guaranteed)
Betting Record for 2013: 175 pts staked; 32 pt profit; ROI 18%