Nico de Boinville's thoughts on his three Saturday rides at Ascot

12.20pm

Greenrock Abbey

This is another race to cut up pretty badly, but so much the better for those who stood their ground. So far, I don’t know much more about him than from what I see of his point-to-point win on his sole start to date, so I have little to add apart from the obvious in that he cost a fair bit at the sales back in March, he is a half-brother to a couple of winners and is obviously open to any amount of improvement. He will clearly need to be decent to win this first time though, for all he faces just three rivals, and hopefully the ground will be okay for him as he got pulled out at Plumpton on Monday because it was heavy.
 
2.40pm

Song For Someone

Just the three runners and I guess we have Laurina to worry about most if we knew she was going to be close to her best on her debut for Paul Nicholls, as she gets a sizeable 13lb from both us and Call Me Lord. But my horse is very smart and consistent in his own right, he is tactically versatile if I want to go on, he goes well fresh and he has good course form. And he handles deep ground well. There is plenty to recommend him then, but of course I have already mentioned Laruina’s form claims getting the weight and Call Me Lord, who I finished second on in this race last season, has the benefit of a satisfactory comeback run at Aintree a fortnight ago.

3 .50

Wraysford

He is a brother to our very good Pertemps winner Call The Cops, so a measure of that racecourse ability will be very welcome. We like to think he has, after what he has shown us at home but, as ever, you never know what you will bump into in these races.

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Paddy Brennan on his Haydock rides at Haydock

1.15pm

Commanche Red

It sounds like they were never really happy with him at any stage at Ascot last time, so they have put the cheek pieces on to help him travel that much so kindly into his race. If they do the trick, then he has a very good chance on the form he showed for me when running away with a very strong Kempton handicap on soft ground on Boxing Day. The step back down from 3m is no negative, either. It’s a very good race but he is probably just about the one to beat on that Kempton win.

1.50pm

Endlessly

He probably ran a little bit better than it looks behind Tegerek at Cheltenham last month, and he was dropped 2lb for it. He won a couple of soft-ground novices’ hurdles last season and I think the step up in trip could suit here, as he was a winner over 1m6f on the Flat, after all.
 
2.25pm

Imperial Alcazar

He is a horse I have always loved, and I made no secret of that in my columns here last season. Now, this is clearly as hot a 3m handicap hurdle as you could wish to see, but my horse has a lot going for him. He always gives his best, he handles deep ground really well and I think he is fairly handicapped on a mark of 140 on his run with Protektorat at Cheltenham last season. Hopefully, there is plenty more to come from him too, and I think he will see out the trip well on his first start at 3m.
 
3.35pm

Perfect Candidate

The most obvious thing to say is that he is a 13yo now, going on fourteen, so of course he is going to find handicaps like this tough off his big weight. But, against that, he pretty much deserves his rating, as he is just 5lb higher than winning this race for me in such game style last season. Obviously, he needs to leave his Aintree run last month firmly behind him, but he always needs his first outing of the season and we know trip and ground are in his favour, and he goes well here.

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Quality over quantity for Nicky Henderson as he discusses this weekend's runners

A VERY quiet weekend for Seven Barrows but hopefully we have quality over quantity and some decent chances. Much of my attention, however, will be at Kempton on Monday where Shishkin makes his Chase debut in a race we have used as a stepping stone for quite a few of ours, including Altior back in the day. There aren’t that many entries and the race will probably cut up significantly but we need to get him and and he’s been in great form at home and schooled brilliantly so I’m really looking forward to seeing him do what he’s made to do. It’s also a big possibility that Captain Morgs will head there and run in the Novices’ Hurdle because he’s come out of Ascot very well and the more experience he gets the better.

Gran Luna is a horse we think an awful lot of but she made a terrible noise at Newbury, and to be honest did very well to win under the circumstances, so she’s been hobdayed which means she will have to have a whole month off before we can start to do anything again so unfortunately she won’t be seen until much later in the season.

We’ll tip away steadily with Dusart who is in excellent shape and come out of his win at Newbury in fine style. He’s still a big baby with plenty to learn and I don’t want to throw him straight in the deep end, so we’ll probably find something for him around Christmas time.

I’m really pleased with No Ordinary Joe who has come out of Sandown absolutely bouncing – he’s a real toughie! It’s unlikely he’ll have another run in a bumper and the plan is to go straight over hurdles and Ahorsewithnoname has been entered up all over the place this week but I think I might save him for Newbury next weekend and perhaps have a look at the Listed race on Saturday.

Chantry House made a bright start to his chasing career at Ascot but had a really good blow after the race so I’d be expecting him to improve quite a lot. It was tiring ground but I was pleased with his jumping and he warmed up nicely once Nico was able to let him get his wind. He certainly won’t be going down in trip and we’ll stick to this distance for the time being before probably stepping him up later in the season.

ASCOT

2:40 G2 Hurdle

Call Me Lord (James Bowen)

It might be a three horse race but there is absolutely nothing between them on ratings so it looks extremely interesting but I quite like our horse’s chance because he ran very well at Aintree on his return and between the second last and last hurdle he looked the likely winner but just got tired running towards the line and James looked after him when he knew he’d lost his winning chance. Hopefully the race won’t end up a tactical affair but I believe Song For Someone is likely to make the running which should ensure there’s a decent gallop and we’re going back right-handed which is a plus and I expect significant improvement. 

3:50 Bumper

Wraysford (Nico de Boinville)

He’s a half brother to Call The Cops who won his bumper for us and this lad is a sharp horse and quite savvy so might just know a little bit more. He works well on our six furlong All Weather but it’s a different story going over 2m on soft ground. I do like him however, and expect him to go well, but I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to see the mare go just as well.

Hamilton’s Fantasy (Jerry McGrath)

She was due to run last season and actually got all the way up to Doncaster but then got a very snotty nose when she got there so we had to withdraw her, and then she was ready to run in the spring but we all know what happened there. She is ready to run over hurdles and will be going over obstacles very, very soon but I wanted to get a run into her in a bumper for some education because she’s a fine big mare but has done absolutely nothing wrong at all. She will definitely get further in time but this is a very good starting point and while I have no interest in what price she is I wouldn’t think there would be much between the two of our runners on the day.

HAYDOCK

1:50 Handicap Hurdle

Fix Sun (Daryl Jacob)

Very much the same comments apply to him as they do for Call Me Lord in the fact that he clearly needed his first run at Cheltenham and I’d like to think he comes into this with a very good chance, although it does look a very competitive race. He’s been dropped a pound in the handicap which I doubt will make any difference at all but he’s a horse we’ve always liked and I’m quite hopeful. To be honest we probably ran a few of our horses a week or two too soon because we were of the opinion that racing might end for a while, so we ran lots of them just in case we were right, thankfully we were wrong!

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