Alan Dudman starts his week in the tipping chair with three selections from two rather exciting fixtures over jumps on Friday...
"However, the horse with the most attractive mark is The Clock Leary - who could be thrown in from his rating of 114 - his lowest-ever over fences. Especially now that his trainer Venetia Williams is sending out winners."
14:00 Haydock - Ground to play to Cobbler's strengths
This race is usually a decent test of stamina, and with more rain forecast on Friday - that could play to the strengths of Henry Daly's The Artful Cobbler.
He hacked up in his handicap debut over hurdles last season, outstaying everything to win by 13 lengths at Leicester. The victory seemed to surprise connections, but they turned him out subsequently over 3m at Doncaster under a penalty; he travelled very smoothly there, but didn't see out the longer trip.
Now rated 120, he fits a similar profile to the yard's winner of this race in 2013 (Cyrien Star). He's a 5yo marked down as a potential improver who will enjoy soft or heavy - in fact, the more rain the better.
Daly has fired in a couple of winners recently, and I'm hoping The Artful Cobbler can do himself justice for his first run of the season.
14:35 Haydock - Smith to end fine record of Nicholls
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has farmed this race in the last four seasons - with wins for Silsol, Virak, Black Thunder and Poungach. However, his hegemony can be broken in this novices' chase by Sue Smith.
Vintage Clouds could make up into a classy sort, and I was pleased with his debut over fences last time out at Carlisle. The ground was probably too quick, and Smith's horses look as though they are needing their first outing.
That race at Carlisle was probably decent (Briery Belle was the winner), and Vintage Clouds was Grade 2-placed over hurdles. Jumping will be his game, and we'll hopefully see a better horse today in deeper ground. Haydock is a track he liked over hurdles too.
14:45 Ascot - Time to back the Clock
This £25,000 handicap chase is quite a tricky contest, and chances can be given to every runner in the field.
However, the horse with the most attractive mark is The Clock Leary - who could be thrown in from his rating of 114 - his lowest-ever over fences. Especially now that his trainer Venetia Williams is sending out winners.
He was deemed classy enough to run in Briar Hill's Champion Bumper, but in eight runs over the larger obstacles it hasn't really worked out. His jumping isn't the most fluent, but he did finish third to Un Beau Roman last term, and he's been in some fairly good races.
The Clock Leary has a featherweight here, and Charlie Deutsch's 5lb claim for good measure. He's too well-handicapped to ignore.
Friday's Recommended Bets
Back The Artful Cobbler 0.5pt @ 12.011/1 in the 14:00 at Haydock
Back Vintage Clouds 0.5pt @ 4.804/1 in the 14:35 at Haydock
Back The Clock Leary 0.5pt @ 3.65 in the 14:45 at Ascot
Weekly P/L: 0.00
Previous week: -5.25