The Mandarin’s Ascot Racecard & Selections from Haydock & Navan

Ascot

Foundation Development Novices’ Handicap Hurdle 12.40
Imphal
He rattled off a quick hat-trick this Autumn, scoring at Ludlow, Fontwell and Huntingdon, before finding his next outing at Lingfield coming a bit too soon. Now returning from a break, he’s got a decent pull in the weights over some of his rivals from this mark, and can continue to progress. Interesting

Howden Graduation Chase 1.15
Pencilfulloflead
Gordon Elliott’s Irish raider has plenty to offer in this grade, and may well make the trip over worthwhile for the Cullentra handler. The seven year old ran three times in Pattern Company last winter, winning the Florida Pearl Novice Chase in impressive fashion, and only went down by half a length in the Grade 1 Faugheen Novice Chase to the very smart Colreevy. He’s been raced exclusively on ground with plenty of dig in it, so faces different conditions here, but he’s the class act of the field and looks sure to be involved

Howden Handicap Chase 1.50
Guy
He went close enough here last time out, chasing down Pink Legend after rounding the home turn until making a mess of the second last and losing momentum. However, he showed enough to be given another chance here and still lines up from an attractive mark. Leading claims

Howden Long Walk Hurdle (Grade 1) 2.25
Ronald Pump (nb)
A cracking race is in store, as dual previous winner, Paisley Park lines up against old foe Thyme Hill, who finished a neck second in this race last year, but both now have to face up to recent Ascot winner, Buzz, and our selection, Irish raider Ronald Pump. Matthew Smith’s stable star took it to Honeysuckle last time out in the Hatton’s Grace, leading the unbeaten mare before 3 out so has plenty of talent. He should strip fitter for that last run against one of the very best, and has form at three miles as well as on good ground. Lots to like, and every chance

Howden Silver Cup Handicap Chase (Listed) 3.00
Regal Encore
The old boy saves his best for this track, and although he may be vulnerable to younger legs these days, he won this race in 2016 & 2019, was a creditable third last year and can have a say again, especially if there’s any rain about. A grand old servant for connections who deserves one last day in the sun

Betfair Exchange Trophy (Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle) 3.35
West Cork
The Skelton team may hold the key here with West Cork who was so impressive in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham last month. He’s one going the right way for the in-form brothers Dan and Harry, and has shown at Kempton that he can go round a right-handed track, so sure to attract plenty of support, progressive

Haydock

Virgin Bet Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) 12.55
Nina The Terrier (nap)
She was perhaps slightly unlucky to fall at the last at Newbury three weeks ago, but we’ll keep our faith in Alan King’s unexposed mare, in what looks like a reasonable assignment for the grade. She’s got something about her, having won three of her last four, and should add to the tally here

Navan

Future Champions Flat Race (Listed) 3.30
American Mike
He pretty well demolished the opposition at Down Royal back in October, and Gordon Elliott may have a real contender for the bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in his ranks. Looks a very smart prospect, and sure to be a warm order favourite for this Listed contest

The Mandarin

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