It’s destination Ascot for a cracking day’s racing on Saturday, one which could be especially enjoyable for Dorset trainer Harry Fry, who sends some serious firepower to the Berkshire venue…
A former assistant to Paul Nicholls, Fry is now a renowned handler in his own right, and he may well have the answer to the first of four live races from the venue on Channel 4, with his Overtown Express appearing to be a big player in the 2m 3f BGC Partners Handicap Chase (1.50pm).
A lightly-raced eight-year-old, he is formerly a Point-to-Point winner who has the scope to be useful over fences, and progress can be expected after a pipe opener behind Top Notch (runs in the 1.15) at Plumpton.
Overtown Express won twice over hurdles earlier in the year, and might be on a nice opening mark for his first handicap (132) over the bigger obstacles.
In the hands of Noel Fehily he looks tempting at 8/1, a price available with aNy of bet365, Betfred, BetVictor or Hills.
Some 35 minutes later Fry will be hoping everything goes to plan for a horse who has been a sensational improver since joining his stable, Uknowwhatimeanharry.
Six from six for the Fry team, his star stayer takes his biggest test yet, lining up under Barry Geraghty in the Grade 1 JLT Long Walk Hurdle (2.25pm).
Brilliant at Newbury when beating the reopposing Ballyoptic at the Hennessy meeting, the Albert Bartlett winner still seems to be getting better and better, and he appears worth every pound of his lofty rating of 165.
Perhaps the 6/4 with Paddy Power or Betway is cramped, but even so it’s going to take a colossal performance to topple him.
Also at Ascot, Fry brings last year’s dead-heat winner, Jolly’s Cracked It, back for a repeat assault on the concluding handicap hurdle, a hugely valuable contest formerly staged as the Ladbroke, now run as the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle (3.35pm).
In a race where Tony Martin runs three it appears a colossal ask for the Fry runner after a year’s absence, though the same can’t be said of the horse he shared the honours with in 2015, Sternrubin.
A total of 10 pounds higher than when taking this a year ago, I wouldn’t be too put off by his racing weight, given that he’s ultra tough and very reliable, saving his best form for Ascot with form figures of 211.
This type of race holds no fears for him, and with Philip Hobbs hammering in the winners (9 in last 2 weeks) Sternrubin looks a decent proposition in the hands of the Champion jockey, Richard Johnson.
The pair are 16/1 each way with any of bet365, BetVictor or Ladbrokes.
Saturday’s best bets at Ascot:
1.50 – BGC Partners Handicap Chase – 9 Overtown Express (each way) @ 8/1 (bet365, Betfred, BetVictor or Hills)
2.25 – JLT Long Walk Hurdle – 7 Uknowwhatimeanharry (win) @ 6/4 (Betway or Paddy Power)
3.35 – Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle – 9 Sternrubin (each way) @ 16/1 (bet365, BetVictor or Ladbrokes)