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3 things to watch out for at Ascot and Haydock this Saturday

| 18.12.2015

This weekend sees racing fans treated to not only some quality handicaps including the Tommy Whittle Chase and The Ladbroke but Grade 1 action in the form of the Long Walk Hurdle.

There’s ample opportunity to take advantage of Ladbrokes’ Money Back offer, with six races shown live on Channel 4.

If your selection into second, the bookmaker will give you your stake back as a free bet, up to £25.*

Finding those winners will be tough, but we’ve picked out three things we could well see unfold when the racing kicks off on Saturday afternoon.

Houblon taking advantage of his falling mark

Coming into the competitive Sodexo Silver Cup with two 9s next to his name might not seem the perfect prep for Venetia Williams’ Houblon Des Obeaux, but he must have a massive chance.

Those two runs came at Ascot where an early blunder was the precursor for what followed, and in the Hennessy where he, like the rest of the field, couldn’t go the pace with the excellent winner Smad Place.

He’s been dropped nine pounds in the handicap for those two runs, and with claimer Charlie Deutsch partnering the gelding for the first time another five are taken off.

His mark of 150 is now two pounds lower than his last winning one, a victory which came in this very race two years ago.

With form at Ascot reading 211329 he clearly has a knack of performing at the Berkshire track, and barring any major jumping errors can be fancied to go well.

Houblon Des Obeaux was a game winner of Saturday's race in 2013

Houblon Des Obeaux was a game winner of Saturday’s race in 2013

A shake up in Ladbrokes World Hurdle market

The Ladbrokes World Hurdle betting could look very different after 14:25 as two of the prime candidates for the staying showpiece lock horns in the Long Walk Hurdle.

Saphir Du Rheu returns to the smaller obstacles after a disappointing effort when sent off favourite in the Hennessy Gold Cup and having finished second at the Festival in March will be the one to beat.

He could have a task on his hooves though with the excellent Newbury victor Thistlecrack in the field.

Colin Tizzard’s charge is two from three since being upped in trip and was a game second in a Grade 1 at Punchestown in April.

He’s already claimed the scalp of Cole Harden and Whisper this term, so could be adding Paul Nicholls’ grey to that list, and forge clear in the Cheltenham betting.

Throw in Dynaste who reverts from the chasing game too – and could be a player if appreciating this change of discipline – and the race looks a fascinating renewal.

Dynaste could be a lively outsider in the Grade 1 contest

Dynaste could be a lively outsider in the Grade 1 contest

Tom O’Brien out to boost a proud Tommy Whittle record

If you want to endorse your chances of winning the Tommy Whittle Chase all you need to do is book Tom O’Brien by all accounts.

He has ridden in the Haydock contests four times, and has won it on three occasions, most recently in 2012 with Cannington Brook.

Spirit of Shankly is his mount this time round for Charlie Longsdon, and he’s certainly not without a chance.

While the gelding hasn’t really built on his early career potential, the seven-year-old has shown glimpses of quality in his last two starts, most recently when finishing fifth at Newcastle.

The heavy ground will test his credentials on his fourth outing over fences, but with O’Brien in the saddle he could just outrun his odds.

No one has won the Tommy Whittle Chase more often than O'Brien

No one has won the Tommy Whittle Chase more often than O’Brien

  1. All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.