The Mandarin’s Saturday Selections from Haydock Park & Ascot

Haydock

Patrick Coyne Memorial Altcar Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) 12.50
Papa Tango Charly
Jonjo O’Neill’s seven year old was a decent enough hurdler, but looks to be turning out an even better chaser after a brace of wins at Carlisle last year, and with a couple of fancy entries at the Cheltenham Festival in the calendar, seems ready to line up in this grade. Nick Schofield is back up in the saddle and with the ground to suit, a big run is on the cards

Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 1.25
Jonbon (nap)
The very exciting Jonbon should be winning this, on his way to the Supreme Novices’ proper at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He’s a full brother to the outstanding Douvan, and trainer Nicky Henderson has the impressive Constitution Hill, winner of the Tolworth at Sandown Park to give him a strong hand in the premier novices’ hurdle of the season. Impossible to oppose given a clear round, and highly respected

New One Unibet Hurdle (Grade 2) 2.00
Tommy’s Oscar
It’s hard to see past another favourite for this, the third graded race on the card at Haydock Park. Mrs Ann Hamilton’s stable star is seven from twelve over timber, has form here and at this trip. He’s on for the four-timer in this race, before a probable run in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Interesting

Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (Grade 2) 2.35
Royale Pagaille
He was a long way behind the classy A Plus Tard in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase around here back in November, but was still ahead of the rest in a decent field. These are surely calmer waters, and with this season’s big target the Cheltenham Gold Cup, this should be a good warm up. Top weight for this handicap chase, but for good reason, the one to beat

Ascot

SBK Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle 1.45
Unexpected Party
In a competitive and valuable handicap, we’ll plump for the Skelton brothers’ Unexpected Party. The Martaline gelding has been progressive this season, and is sure to have his day in the sun sometime soon. This looks a workable mark for the grey from the ever improving Lodge Hill yard of Dan Skelton, solid each way claims at the least

Sky Bet Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2.20
Western Victory
Emma Lavelle has her string in fine fettle just now, so Western Victory looks the one to side with for this mares hurdle. The Skeltons’ Molly Ollys Wishes is a decent opponent, but has something to prove after a lacklustre showing here last time out, and the pair could clash swords again in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in a couple of months time. A good duel in prospect, but Western Victory should be the one to follow

bet365 Handicap Chase 2.55
Killer Clown
He won with plenty in hand at Wincanton last time out, and might not yet be in the grip on the handicapper for this race. Emma Lavelle is in a purple patch and can get her Getaway gelding to follow up on the Ascot win turned out again quickly. In the mix

SBK Clarence House Chase (Grade 1) 3.35
Energumene (nb)
Just the four runners lining up for the feature, but what a race is in store. Last year’s victor, First Flow, who beat Politologue to claim this Grade 1 prize, almost looks the outsider at ante-post odds of around 10/1, though he’s third in the betting. The reason for that is the sheer quality of the best two mile chasers in training lining up here. It’s England versus Ireland, as Nicky Henderson’s Shiskin takes on Willie Mullins’ Energumene on home soil. Shiskin could not have been more impressive than when landing the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas, but Willie Mullins has made this trip over for good reason, so we’ll side with the master of Closutton, and the exciting Energumene

The Mandarin

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