Ascot can win at Chelmsford

Steve Hughes looks ahead to a busy Thursday’s racing

Assuming the weather relents, there is an extremely busy programme on Thursday with five meetings in Britain, one in Ireland and the Dubai Carnival at Meydan. I like the look of a hurdler at Doncaster but have a decent each-way shot for the flat at Chelmsford. We had a third consecutive winning nap on Wednesday through Excellent George (advised 5/2).

Doncaster 3.30: Gunfleet

Trainer Emma Lavelle has an exceptional 30% strike rate (13-43) at Doncaster over the past five seasons. This galloping track suits her stoutly bred individuals and that should be the case for Gunfleet today.

The 6yo lacks experience, but is improving with racing. He won his only bumper at the backend of last season when winning at Stratford. However he was always going to be the sort to improve for jumps and a step up in trip.

It took him three goes to get off the mark over hurdles, but 2m3f2/4f on good going was simply an insufficient test of stamina for him so he is forgiven two defeats in the autumn, albeit with creditable efforts. He then won what looked a modest Southwell novice in December – but the form has been franked by the second Shannon Bridge who came so close to winning a Grade 2 at this track recently. Lavelle wastes no time in sending Gunfleet over 3m for his handicap debut, where he should improve again for the extra distance.

Chelmsford 8.00: Ascot Day

I was greatly encouraged by the performance of Ascot Day over course and distance two weeks ago and think today could be the day for the 4yo to resume winning ways.

Fully proven on the All Weather, he has already won races at Lingfield and Southwell, but looked just as effective here when coming from off the pace to fill fourth position behind Tropics. Hold up tactics rarely work at Chelmsford and I would hope the gelding is given a slightly more positive ride today.

Although jockey Jamie Spencer’s default tactic is to come from off the pace, he had a few rides at Chelmsford yesterday so knows you can’t come from too far back. David Simcock’s charge looks to be coming back to form after an autumn break and should be in peak condition for today.

Recommended bets:

1pt win – Gunfleet – 3.30 Doncaster – 11/4 Stan James

0.75pts each-way – Ascot Day – 8.00 Chelmsford – 8/1 general

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