Kevin Blake

Saturday Racing Tips: Kevin Blake's gunning for Gold at Ascot

Kevin Blake
Amoola Gold is Kevin Blake's NAP

Betfair ambassador Kevin Blake cannot wait for a day of jumps in front of the ITV cameras, and he's lined up two Ascot tips at 15/2 and 5/1...

  • ITV jumps fiesta this Saturday
  • Olly Murphy's horse has an each way chance
  • Amoola Gold can "win" the same race once more

It's happening! It's here. This is the first Saturday of this National Hunt season that the action on ITV Racing will be entirely over jumps.

We might still have the Breeders' Cup and other exciting international fixtures remaining on the Flat this year, but this weekend marks a notable transition towards the jumps taking centre stage in this part of the world.

Murphy's smart prospect

The focus of my attention will be on Ascot and my main interest will come in the Bateaux London Handicap Hurdle (14:05). This is a really interesting race as while it is a valuable contest in its own right, it sits in an ideal slot with a view to the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham's November meeting.

With four of the top five in the weights for this race being entered in the Greatwood and already being rated high enough to be guaranteed a run in it, I wouldn't be surprised if a few of them are considering this as a conditioning stepping stone to Cheltenham.

With that in mind, I focused on those either without entries in the Greatwood or those that are not rated low enough to get into it at this stage and thus would benefit from picking up a penalty for winning this.

The one I landed on is the Olly Murphy-trained Washington.

Washington stamped himself as a smart prospect by winning his first two starts in bumpers and while he made a winning hurdling debut last season, his progress thereafter was steady rather than spectacular.

However, he very much hinted that there would be more to come from him this season by running a fine race to finish a close third in a valuable handicap hurdle at Aintree in April.

Had he not made a mistake at the second-last flight and then got into a barging match with a rival, he might well have gone close to winning.

Washington is the type that will be suited by being ridden with confidence off a solid pace and there looks to be plenty of candidates to push forward here to create an above-average pace.

He doesn't hold an entry in the Greatwood and it wouldn't be a surprise if Olly Murphy has had this race in mind for him. He appeals as being likely to run a big race.

Back Washington to win 14:05 Ascot


Skelton's can prevail...again

The other race of interest is the Byrne Group Handicap Chase (14:40) and it might well see Dan Skelton-trained Amoola Gold get his head in front in it for the third year in succession (albeit subsequently disqualified from last year's victory).

For whatever reason, the nine-year-old seems to be at his best in the first half of the season and thanks to some below-form efforts at the backend of last season, he returns to the scene of his two greatest triumphs off a 3lb lower mark than he won off last year.

He "won" the race on what was his seasonal return last season and with a horse of his profile, one can strongly suspect that Dan Skelton will have every screw tightened to the max to have him as ready as possible for this valuable contest.

Back Amoola Gold to win 14:40 Ascot


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