Top commentator Simon Holt previews Saturday's racing from Ascot and Haydock with Blaklion fancied to prevail in the Pertemps qualifier.
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After the famine comes the feast at on Saturday when Ascot stages a nine-race card featuring such luminaries as Clan Des Obeaux and Terrefort in the rescheduled Betfair Denman Chase and Waiting Patiently bidding to back up last year's victory in the Betfair Ascot Chase up against Politologue and Fox Norton.
Earlier, in the fourth race on the card, REIKERS ISLAND is fancied to take advantage of a light weight against some more exposed rivals in the Keltbray Swinley Handicap Chase.
Just a six-year-old, Richard Johnson's mount would surely have won the Mandarin Chase at Newbury last time but for jumping persistently right on the left-handed course as well as making a serious blunder at the final fence. Considering how he did everything wrong, it was still a promising effort to be edged out in a bunch finish.
Earlier, Reikers Island had looked much more at home round right-handed Wincanton where he jumped well throughout and this course should also suit him. He looks to have plenty of potential and, with a clear round, could be difficult to concede weight to.
A fast gallop is assured with the fragile former Gold Cup winner Coneygree in the field, and a reproduction of his reappearance third at Cheltenham (pulled up since in the King George) would see him figure prominently at the finish while Black Corton looked in need of a return to this trip when splitting Top Notch and Charbel over two and a half miles at Kempton over Christmas.
However, both these admirable chasers could probably do with a bit of help from the handicapper.
Last year's winner Regal Encore is only 2lb higher now and might go well if in the mood with his stable possibly returning to form.
In the Ascot Supports Berkshire Community Foundation Handicap Hurdle, AIR HORSE ONE can be a force to be reckoned with after a return to form behind Unison at Taunton last time.
Harry Fry's grey hadn't shown much in his previous two starts this season, but going down by five lengths to a course specialist that day indicated he could be on the way back, and he is well handicapped on his best form with Kieron Edgar taking off an additional 3lb.
Successful in this corresponding race in 2017, Air Horse One then ran good races behind the likes of Elgin and Jenkins, again on this course.
At Haydock, it may be worth giving one more chance to BLAKLION in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
A smart staying chaser at his best, and winner of the Becher Chase before Christmas last season, the 10-year-old has seemed out of sorts since.
Switched to hurdles at Warwick last time, Blaklion was in the firing line before weakening up the home straight but, on a more positive note, he has become extremely well handicapped and has a good record on this course.
If there's going to be a comeback, it could be here under 7lb claimer Jordan Nailor, running off a rating of 147 (140 with the claim) whereas he was rated 161 when second to Yala Enki in the William Hill Grand National Trial on this card 12 months ago.
- Preview posted at 1505GMT on 15/02/2019