La Bague Au Roi is the obvious market leader for the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby as she steps out of novice company having failed only narrowly to complete a perfect debut season over fences when second in a Grade One at Aintree in April.
Her race-fitness is the doubt, though, after nearly seven months off and last year’s winner, Definitly Red, has had a similar break. That could leave an opening for race-fit Ballyoptic (3.40), who carried top weight to a nine-length win at Chepstow last time.
Wetherby 1.20 On the face of it Cougar’s Gold was a little fortunate to finish second at Exeter last time as three of his opponents went at the second-last. He had been stopped in his tracks a couple of fences earlier, however, and still crossed the line in a decent time.
Ascot 1.35 There was plenty of support for Earlofthecotswolds on his chasing debut at Market Rasen last month and he was trading at 1-5 in running when he fell at the second-last. A bit more polish to his jumping should give him the beating of this field.
Wetherby 1.55 There was just a neck between Lady Buttons and Indefatigable on identical terms at Doncaster in January and, though the winner had a little in hand, Indefatigable was making only her fourth start over hurdles. She should certainly not be nearly twice the price of the favourite.
Ascot 2.10 Only a couple can be ruled out with confidence but The Last Day is on a handy mark on the balance of his form last season.
Wetherby 2.30 Thebannerkingrebel has made a decent start to his hurdling career but must give 10lb to a different class of opponent on Saturday. Proschema was useful on the Flat – he raced off 104 at Goodwood in the summer – and made a very promising debut over timber at Chepstow last month.
Ascot 2.45 Adjali was campaigned in Grade One events as a juvenile and could have more to offer this season than some of his rivals here, though it is clearly a competitive heat for a seasonal debut.
Wetherby 3.05 The veteran Unowhatimeanharry would be a hugely popular winner but his best days are now more intermittent than they were in his pomp. Ballyandy is three years younger and has the added benefit of a run this season.
Ascot 3.20 Black Corton and Bryony Frost will attract support after a decent return last time while Vinndication is a hot prospect and has had a wind op since last year. At the prices, though, a small interest in Black Corton’s stable companion Adrien Du Pont could be rewarded at around 16-1. He has also had a wind operation, ran well on his handicap debut in this race last year and has gone well fresh in the past.
11.45 Grenadine 12.20 Baaqy 12.55 Stars In The Sky 1.30 Critical Time 2.05 San Pedro 2.40 Peaceful 3.15 Lord North 3.45 Mitchum Swagger 4.15 Swift Approval
12.25 Tegerel 1.10 Ecco 1.35 Earlofthecotswolds 2.10 The Last Day 2.45 Adjali 3.20 Adrien Du Pont (nb) 3.55 Felony
12.35 Rosie And Millie 1.10 Exit To Where 1.40 Blakerigg 2.15 Takingrisks 2.50 Smiths Cross 3.25 Keyboard Gangster 4.00 Dubai Days
12.50 Chase The Wind 1.20 Cougar’s Gold 1.55 Indefatigable 2.30 Proschema 3.05 Ballyandy 3.40 Ballyoptic (nap) 4.10 Midnight Moss
4.30 Crime Of Passion 5.00 Desert Peace 5.30 Persia 6.00 My Amigo 6.30 First In Line 7.00 Senorita Grande 7.30 Magic Shuffle 8.00 Tavener