Adam Baylis previews the Betfair Ascot Chase & Haydock Grand National Trial on Saturday and thinks it's worth taking on the favourites in both contests...
"He triumphed by 13 lengths that day and showed no sign of stopping so the extra few furlongs here are of little concern and he has the class – placed in Graded company over hurdles – to take this prize at 9/2."
If Black Corton is to be considered a genuine contender for the RSA Chase then he'll want to be winning with authority in the Reynoldstown Chase at 13:50. The seven-year-old has been a revelation under Bryony Frost this season, winning four of his five starts with the star apprentice on board. He'll have to shoulder a 5lb penalty here but his closest rival Ms Parfois will have to improve again to get close to the Paul Nicholls inmate. As such, I'd be in no rush to take the 6/4 favourite on.
Last year's JLT runner-up Top Notch heads the betting at 15/8 for the Betfair Ascot Chase at 15:35. A two time Grade 2 winner this season, he's unbeaten in three trips to Ascot and holds Frodon comfortably based on his victory here in November. The strength of that form was there for all to see when Paul Nicholls' horse promptly won by 17 lengths at Cheltenham last month.
With Cue Card seemingly facing an uphill task on Saturday, Top Notch's main opposition is likely to come in the shape of Waiting Patiently and Irish raider Coney Island. The former, unbeaten over fences was imperious in victory at Kempton last time but that came against lesser opposition. And for all that he handed a length and a quarter beating to Tingle Creek winner Politologue last season, he was fortunate to win that day with his opponent racing very keenly in the early stages. I suspect he may get found out in this field and I much prefer the chances of Eddie Harty's Coney Island.
It didn't look likely for a while, but Coney Island, who was having his first start for 359 days, easily wins the Graduation Chase (1.15) @Ascot.? Racing UK (@Racing_UK) December 23, 2017
Results https://t.co/7iJOPsvjqx pic.twitter.com/j4yp1RJ3Mo
Well-backed for the Gold Cup after victory at Ascot in December, he still has the Ryanair as an option in March but I firmly believe he has every chance of winning the Cheltenham showpiece in March. He could do no more than win with authority last time in a three-runner field but his form in Ireland from last season marked him down as a serious performer. He put Anibale Fly, Alpha Des Obeaux and Road to Respect to the sword in the Drinmore and that trio have won a Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3 since.
That being said, Top Notch does hold him on a line through Disko's run in the JLT but I expect Coney Island to kick on from his run last time and go on to bigger things this season. The 3/1 on offer makes plenty of appeal and the 8/1 about him for the Gold Cup (or the Ryanair) won't be around for long if he obliges on Saturday.
Nine go to post for the Grand National Trial at 15:15 with Becher winner Blaklion holding favouritism at 9/4. Nigel-Twiston-Davies' star is also the 12/1 market leader for the National itself in April but I'm not sure he'll be able to give away close to a stone to his rivals on Saturday. Three Faces West and Wild West Wind have obvious claims, particularly the latter who wasn't unfancied for the Welsh National before departing and was going well before that.
However, The Dutchman did this column a good turn by dotting up in the Peter Marsh last month and I'm loathed to let him go un-backed. He went well at Haydock in bottomless ground on his first start for Colin Tizzard, claiming second behind Stayers' Hurdle second favourite Sam Spinner. Following a disappointing run at Cheltenham he took the step up in trip in his stride last time, again in heavy ground. He triumphed by 13 lengths that day and showed no sign of stopping so the extra few furlongs here are of little concern and he has the class - placed in Graded company over hurdles - to take this prize at 9/2.
2017/18 P&L: +10.65pts
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