Racing: Saturday preview

Horseracing Web Tile
Horseracing Web Tile

Question marks abound at Ascot and while Sprinter Sacre is far from the banker material of a couple of years ago, it is hard to oppose him in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase.

His well-documented heart problem and consequent lengthy absence are far from ideal but connections would surely not be persevering with such a star performer unless they thought he could bounce back to his very best again.

The nine-year-old racked up 10 wins on the spin over fences, including seven at Grade One level, before his winning run sputtered to a stop at Kempton back in December 2013.

It has hardly been an easy task getting him back to full health and Nicky Henderson is rightly cautious about what to expect, particularly as the ground might be softer than ideal on what is his return from a long spell on the sidelines.

No matter how good Dodging Bullets looked in the Tingle Creek or Twinlight appeared in winning at Christmas, there is no getting away from the fact Sprinter Sacre has upwards of 20lb in hand of those rivals on his old rating of 188, suggesting he could get away with being a chunk of his very best and still emerge victorious.

As one bookmaker said, he would be a 1-5 chance at his best and might never be this weekend’s price again.

Dawalan can also strike for the Seven Barrows team in the Keltbray Holloway’s Hurdle after winning a competitive event at Aintree.

Bitofapuzzle had to settle for second in Listed company at Haydock before Christmas but she can rise to the challenge in Grade Two company in the OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle.

Beaten a neck by The Pirate’s Queen on Merseyside, that defeat was probably a bit disappointing as Bitofapuzzle was sent off an odds-on favourite and had won first time out.

She steps up in trip here which looks a real positive as does the likely soft ground for this strapping sort.

Donald McCain sent out Cloudy Lane to win the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock back in 2009 and he appears to have another likely type in Corrin Wood this time around.

He looked a lively outsider for the RSA Chase at the Festival last year but paid for taking on Annacotty in the early stages and eventually finished well beaten which was a shame as he had shaped well in winning three previous outings.

Tips -

Ascot: 12.40 Mantou, 1.15 Fayette County, 1.50 Bitofapuzzle, 2.25 Dawalan, 3.00 Sprinter Sacre, 3.35 Mister Grez, 4.05 Out Sam.

Haydock: 12.20 Kingswell Theatre, 12.55 Close Touch, 1.30 Rock Of Leon, 2.05 The New One, 2.40 Third Intention, 3.15 CORRIN WOOD (NAP), 3.50 Blackthorn Prince.

Taunton: 1.05 Doctor Phoenix, 1.40 Beacon Lady, 2.15 Midnight Request, 2.50 Oscar Sunset, 3.25 Whispering Harry, 3.55 Private Malone.

Lingfield: 12.50 Ghosting, 1.25 Rockfast, 2.00 History Book, 2.35 Melvin The Grate, 3.10 The Dandy Yank, 3.45 Azure Amour.

Double: Corrin Wood and The New One.