We've picked out five horses who it might be worth following both this weekend and for the season ahead
Another weekend of top-class action awaits jumps fans with a number of festival clues on offer as some of last year’s big players go head-to-head again.
EDUARD - 14.05 Ascot
Off the track for 618 days, Nicky Richard’s 8yo was last seen finishing fourth in the Ryanair Chase in March 2015. Looking back through his form there’s no doubting it stacks up and receiving weight all round on Saturday, he could well run a big race. He will certainly come on for Saturday’s run however and connections will be hoping much of the old spark remains to allow them to dream of bigger things later in the season.
UNOWHATIMEANHARRY - 14.25 Haydock
Saturday will definitely be a big ask off top weight in what is notoriously a very competitive handicap but if his new owner is to dream of a repeat Festival success come March then Harry Fry’s 8yo will need to put in a bold performance. The Albert Bartlett winner was a revelation last season, progressing from handicaps to Grade 1 success as he finished the season with a perfect 5 from 5 record. He’s currently best-priced 20/1 for the World Hurdle in a market that is dominated by horses who may or may not have that race as their end of season target, a big run on Saturday will see his price tumble.
YANWORTH - 14.40 Ascot
Likely to be a very short-priced favourite on Saturday, you certainly won’t get rich from backing Alan King’s 6yo. Saturday’s seasonal reappearance will however give a good indication as to how the form of last season’s juveniles stacks up with some of the more established stars of National Hunt. An impressive winner of 4 of his 5 races last season, the JP McManus owned gelding’s sole defeat came at the hands of Yorkhill in the Neptune at the Festival in March. If he can dispatch Saturday’s field with the minimum of fuss, dreams of a successful return to Prestbury Park next year will not be unrealistic.
CONEYGREE - 15.00 Haydock
Another horse on the comeback trial after injury, the 2015 Gold Cup winner will finally be making his first appearance on a racetrack since winning a Listed Chase at Sandown by 25 lengths last November. All of his rivals on Saturday will have the benefit of a recent run but, if he can show the verve and swagger he has shown in the past over fences, he could have them all in trouble in what could be testing conditions. Despite now being a 9yo, he has only had 11 races in his career and has won all of his 5 stars over the bigger obstacles. Currently 10/1 for the Gold Cup, there’s no way he will be that price come 3.15pm on Saturday if victorious at Haydock.
VANITEUX - 15.15 Ascot
The once classy hurdler showed a decent level of form Novice chasing last season, especially when putting it up to the mighty Douvan in the Racing Post Arkle in March before falling two out. Currently 33/1 and 25/1 in the ante-post markets for the Champion Chase and Ryanair, he could put his name right in the mix for both with a strong performance on Saturday.