ITV7 Racing Tips: Blaklion can roar back to form at Ascot

Blaklion is an interesting runner in Saturday's Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot.
Blaklion is an interesting runner in Saturday's Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot.

Nick Seddon takes a look at Saturday's televised action at Wetherby, Ascot and Down Royal, and picks out his best bets...

Ascot 13:55 - Tote Handicap Chase

This is our first ITV7 article which will involve just Jumps racing, and we start with a listed handicap chase over two miles - one which has been won by the top weight for each of the past two years. Diego Du Charmil won last year in bizarre circumstances for the Paul Nicholls team after an incident at the final fence with stablemate Capeland, and the latter is fancied to put that right this year. He made up that disappointment 12 months ago when winning a similar event on his next start here, and while he's struggled in Graded company since, a return to this level ought to suit. Indeed, he's capable of running well fresh, and with his current mark of 150 looking workable, he gets the vote to make a winning reappearance. 

Ascot 13:55
Capeland silk



Wetherby 14:10 - bet365 Mares' Hurdle

It's difficult to look past Verdana Blue, who looks to have been found a good opportunity to return to winning ways. Admittedly, she's been shy of the heights of her stellar 2018/19 campaign of late, but she's a smart type and has been holding her form pretty well, finishing second against the boys at this level at Kempton earlier this month. Returned to her own sex, she can prove her class and justify what will likely be a short price in the market come tomorrow afternoon. 

Wtherby 14:10
Verdana Blue silk

Verdana Blue


Down Royal 14:25 - Champion Chase

This race can often act as a pointer for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the stand out entry this year is Delta Work, who was a dual Grade 1 winner last season. He will be very difficult to beat if running to form, though it's worth noting that he very much needed the run when fourth in this last year, and at a slightly bigger price, a chance is taken on stablemate Presenting Percy. He's a fascinating inclusion on his first start for Gordon Elliott, and while he has yet to really live up to the promise of his 2018 RSA Chase win, he's in the perfect hands to make up for lost time. He was a late faller when last seen in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but was close enough at the time to still have been able to make his presence felt, and would be a very serious rival to Delta Work if on a going day. He's run well off the back of an absence in the past, and looks the bet at around the 11/4 mark to make the perfect start to life at Cullentra House.

Down Royal Champion Chase
Presenting Percy silk

Presenting Percy


Wetherby 14:45 - bet365 Hurdle

It will be interesting to see how the newly crowned Stayers' Hurdle holder Lisnagar Oscar fares this season after pulling off that 50/1 upset, and he's the one to beat if running to that level here. The likeable mare Roksana has some smart form on her CV and is respected, but it could be worth taking a chance on Next Destination at around the 4/1 mark. It's 920 days since we last saw him on the track, but he was a smart novice in 2017/18, finishing third in the Ballymore and winning a Grade 1 at the Punchestown Festival, and he'd be one to take very seriously if ready to go on reappearance. Now in the care of Paul Nicholls, Next Destination has the potential to be a key player in this division this term, and it would be a surprise should his handler not have him ready to strike first time out. 

Wetherby 14:45
Next Destination silk

Next Destination


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Ascot 15:05 - Sodexo Handicap Hurdle

An open-looking contest, in which Malaya gets the vote to strike. She hasn't won since striking in the 2019 Imperial Cup at Sandown, but she took a firm step back in the right direction when second over a similar trip here in February. She's now just 2 lb higher than her last winning mark, and bearing in mind that she's run well fresh in the past, she's fancied to go close at the very least for her in-form yard. 

Ascot 15:05
Malaya silk



Wetherby 15:20 - Charlie Hall Chase

This year's renewal is an excellent one, and all eyes will be on the star chaser Cyrname. He's the current 7/4 favourite, but it looks worth taking him on considering that we haven't seen him since suffering a crashing fall at Ascot in February, plus there are concerns about the trip and running left-handed. Instead, Vinndication makes plenty of appeal. The seven-year-old is lightly-raced over fences, making six starts to date, but he’s a very smart type, winning a Grade 2 as a novice at Ascot in December 2018. He was a deeply impressive winner of the Sodexo Gold Cup on his reappearance on Charlie Hall day at Ascot last year, and should be ready to go once again this time around. Admittedly, he’d strictly have something to find on form with Cyrname if that rival is on song, but Vinndication should be more ready for this than most, and makes plenty of appeal to take this. 

Charlie Hall Chase
Vinndication silk



Ascot 15:40 - Sodexo Gold Cup

We sign off with a typically competitive renewal of the Sodexo Gold Cup, in which a few deserve consideration. Traffic Fluide carried top weight to victory in this two years ago, and plenty will be hoping that Black Corton can do similar for Paul Nicholls after Frodon's heroics at Cheltenham last week, but conceding 9 lb to the field looks a tough ask. Might Bite clearly isn't the force of old and has shaped as though he's fallen out of love with the game of late, but he was top-class on his day and would be a threat if anywhere near that off a mark of 152, while Mister Malarky defeated Black Corton at Kempton in February and is just 4 lb higher here.

Walk In The Mill is likely using this as a final warm up for the Becher Chase in December, and at the prices, it could be worth taking a chance on another Aintree veteran, Blaklion. He hasn't won since his emphatic victory in the 2017 Becher, but has been pretty lightly-raced since, and ran well when last seen over hurdles at Haydock in February 2019. He has a long lay-off to defy here after an injury, but he's in excellent hands now with Dan Skelton, and can take his chance off a mark that's 4 lb lower than for his last success. He's probably missed the boat as far as the Grand National is concerned as an 11-year-old, but he looks a good bet at around 10/1 to prove that he's still be a smart performer.

Sodexo Gold Cup
Blaklion silk


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