Put your faith in Pipe
Man On The Spot previews Saturday's terrestrial television action from Ascot and Haydock Park.
- Related Content
Pendra is tried in a handicap after a couple of victories in minor company. His lack of experience may count against him tackling some useful 2m chasers including the last two winners of this, Ulck Du Lin and King Edmund. Consigliere and Gus Macrae are also course and distance winners but neither have been in the best of form so far this season. The Cockney Mackem often starts slowly, though they may not be too much of a disadvantage in a race in which there are no obvious front-runners. LANCETTO wasn't beaten far in a couple of races over track and trip last month and was second at Ludlow last time. He gets little respite from the handicapper but should give supporters a run for their money again and is preferred to Grey Gold, who possibly needs further, and Elenika.
No Planning won at Wetherby before finishing second at Kelso. But he may not have finished ahead of Night Alliance at the Scottish track had the latter not fallen heavily at the last. Loch Ba never figured in the Hennessy last time but should this a bit easier and there are more races to be won with Emperor's Choice, though probably over further than this. SAFRAN DE COTTE couldn't match strides with Tutchec and Herdsman at Carlisle on his reappearance but will strip fitter here and revels in soft ground. He gets a tentative vote as Tartak is not the force of old and Triptico dropped away tamely at Chepstow earlier this month. Ballytober looks as though he'll need more time.
AT FISHERS CROSS hadn't jumped well before making a complete hash of the second-last on his reappearance at Newbury and being eased to a walk. But he was still within a length of eventual winner Celestial Halo at the time and would have probably have finished ahead of eventual third Reve De Sivola at the very least. The latter won this last year but is much better on really heavy going as a rule. With Celestial Halo's reported defection, Salubrious will now carry the hopes of the Nicholls team but he's yet to prove himself at the highest level. Likewise the mare Tweedledrum and Time For Rupert hasn't raced over hurdles since finishing runner-up to Big Buck's in the 2010 World Hurdle.
SHE RANKS ME won a mares' Listed hurdle here last season and will be all the better for her run at Taunton, where she was never on the bridle over a shorter trip. Donald McCain's mare is the selection as Art Professor returns from a lengthy break. Special Catch has claims on his third to More Of That over course and distance four weeks ago but Morning Royalty has struggled in this grade in the past.
Hennessy winner Triolo D'Alene tries to follow up here off an 11lb higher mark but could find the combination of softer ground and a big weight too much to handle and is no certainty to confirm Newbury running with sixth Houblon Des Obeaux, who won here on his reappearance. The handicapper has given a definite chance to WHAT A WARRIOR, who has the beating of Storm Survivor on Chepstow running in October. He just got outpaced over a shorter trip last time but can open his seasonal account off bottom weight in this. Cedre Bleu will strip fitter for his comeback run, though has yet to convince over this longer distance, but Battle Group seems to have rediscovered bad habits and likes faster going while Bless The Wings has a bit to find with Houblon Des Obeaux on the form book. Problema Tic is woefully out of sorts at present.
David Pipe is determined to improve his yard's already impressive strike-rate in this ultra-competitive handicap as he saddles six of the 21 entries. Greatwood winner DELL' ARCA looks to have a good a chance as any as he is open to further improvement and will be suited by today's softer surface. Despite being 8lb higher, the French import is fancied to confirm Cheltenham running with Flaxen Flare and Pine Creek and land this. Swing Bowler, another Pipe runner, is interesting as she goes well fresh and was third in last season's betfair Hurdle on soft going. Nicky Henderson has Rolling Star and Chatterbox in the line-up. The former may be the mount of Barry Geraghty but has a lot of weight and the latter didn't do much wrong on his reappearance at Newbury. Ptit Zig is another who could struggle under a welter burden but Totalize has been attracting support at the other end of the handicap as he was in good form on the Flat in the autumn. Chris Pea Green represents an in-form yard and looks in good heart while Willie Mullins' City Slicker will have McCoy's help in trying to complete his hat-trick.