Following another 7/1 winner in this article last weekend, to keep up the winning streak I’m back for Saturday’s action at Ascot and Haydock! Let’s hope we can hit the target again on another busy Saturday.
Saturday Horse Racing Betting Tips
14:25 Ascot Tips
Swinley Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) – 3m
Phoenix Way 1pt Win @ 11/2
Danny Kirwan 1pt EW (4 Places) @ 7/1
The first race I’ll be dissecting this week is the 3m Swinley Handicap Chase. In the midweek I wrongly assumed that this race would cut up a fair amount from the initial entries, with 14 runners standing their ground. As such, I’m going to be having two plays in the race as I think they both have very strong claims.
My first selection is my initial ideal of the winner – Paul Nicholls’ Danny Kirwan. I often think it is useful for a Horse to have good Ascot form, and this 10yo certainly has that – with his form around here reading 21712. A useful Hurdler back in the day, Danny Kirwan went over fences for the first time last season and he showed plenty of aptitude for jumping fences – but perhaps at time his main asset became his liability, as he would often throw himself into a fence without a care in the world.
Sometimes then Danny Kirwan can look absolutely spectacular over a fence, but he wasn’t being economical with his jumping; until the application of cheek-pieces at Wincanton last January saw him bolt up by 10 lengths. Although well beaten in the Listed Novices’ Handicap Chase at Sandown, Danny Kirwan bounced straight back to form at Ascot last March over 2m5f – where off a mark of 130 he put in a brilliant round of jumping to score by an impressive 3.75 lengths over Champagne Court (129).
Paul Nicholls did try and go to the well one more time last spring when running in a 3m Handicap Chase at Kempton in May, but having been on the go since October I think he probably just felt the effects of a hard first campaign over fences when finishing 2nd.
Returning to action at Ascot in October for the London Gold Cup however, Danny Kirwan showed that he’s matured enough to be ready for races over 3m with a fantastic effort. Once again jumping strongly on the front end, Danny Kirwan travelled strongly into the home turn where he held a 3 length advantage, and he certainly looked the most likely winner – but in the closing stages of the race he was just reeled in by Our Power (141), who needed to win that race in order to get a run in the Coral Gold Cup (for which he was a NR on the day). That was a very good effort from Danny Kirwan however, and the form looks strong considering Tea Clipper (147) was in 3rd.
Danny Kirwan hasn’t been seen since that fine opening effort, but returning to the same Ascot course and distance off just a 3lbs higher mark should see him go extremely close once again – and going to the race fresh may actually be a good angle with him as his record after a break of 65+ days reads 1261242.
10 year olds have a fine record in the Swinley Handicap Chase having taken out 4 of the last 6 renewals, and the second of such age group whom I fancy to run a big race on Saturday is Harry Fry’s Phoenix Way. Just like Danny Kirwan, this 10yo has good Ascot form to his name – as last year he finished 2nd in the December Silver Cup Handicap Chase over this course and distance behind Annsam (142), before he then made amends a month later to win a 2m5f Handicap Chase at this track last January – seeing off Fanion D’Estruval (158) when rated 140.
This season Phoenix Way has ran two eye-catching races over intermediate trips, firstly when looking to need the run at Chepstow on the 27th December – making late gains into 4th place. A similar story can then be told from Cheltenham 21 days ago, as Phoenix Way was notably struggling towards of the rear of the pack jumping the 3rd last, before he stayed on strongly for 4th behind Il Ridoto (146) and Fugitif (149). Those two runs over fences have seen Phoenix Way’s Handicap mark drop from 144 back down to his last winning mark of 140 however, and heading back to Ascot for a 3m Handicap Chase could be just the ticket which sees him return to the winners enclosure. Just like when winning at Ascot last year, a 3lbs claimer also takes the reigns – with the talented Lorcan Murtagh taking over for the first time since his Silver Cup 2nd.
15:00 Ascot Tips
Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) – 2m3½f
Zoffany Bay 1pt Win @ 15/2
The Handicap Hurdle on this card has been won by Horses towards the bottom of the weights in the past 3 years, and I think that trend could be set to continue with Zoffany Bay looking to have strong claims.
It’s not often that Peter Fahey sends one across the Irish sea – but when he does he means business. Since 2017 he’s saddled 50 runners in Britain, recording 11 winners (22% strike rate) and 23 places (46%). If you take out his Cheltenham runners then that record gets even better, with 35 runners yielding 10 winners (28.6% strike rate), and 19 places (54.3%). Both statistics return a very healthy return at SP too.
The latest of Fahey’s Irish raiders is Zoffany Bay, and I’m sure like myself most of you will remember him running for Ali Stronge up until 2020 – for whom he won a Maiden Hurdle and reached a rating of 121. Since then however, Zoffany Bay’s career has headed in a completely different direction – as he was moved to David Cotton, who completely turned this Horse around. Over in France this 9yo won 3 races – most notably a 2m3½f Listed Handicap Hurdle at Auteuil in March 2021, when beating subsequent Grade 2 Hurdle winner Super Alex. He even finished 2nd behind subsequent Grade 2 Chase winner Ajas on one of his starts across the Channel!
Zoffany Bay is clearly a talented Horse then, but connections have had to be patient with him – and this year he was moved over to Ireland to be trained by Peter Fahey. He will need to overcome a 700 day absence to score here, however the Handicapper has given him a hell of a chance with an official rating of just 122, and Aidan Coleman – who steered stablemate The Big Dog to 3rd in the Welsh National – is an eye-catching jockey booking. If running to his French form and ready to go well, then this 9yo could take some stopping.
16:25 Haydock Tips
Prestige Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) – 3m½f
Collectors Item 1pt EW (4 Places) @ 8/1
We finish this weekend with a trip to Haydock, where in a very competitive Prestige Novices’ Hurdle, I fancy Jonjo O’Neill’s Collectors Item to seal the deal.
This 6yo ran very well to only be beaten 0.5 lengths by Weveallbeencaught (139) in a Bumper at Newbury last year, but this season he’s kept on developing over Hurdles as he’s gone up in distance. Starting out at Chepstow in October, Collectors Item in the end made his Hurdles debut a winning one, needing every inch of that trip to eventually beat Hugos New Horse by 2.75 lengths – and that form gets more impressive by the week considering the runner up is now rated 130 having won on his next 4 successive starts!
Connections decided to chuck Collectors Item straight into the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham’s November meeting next, but he just seemed to find the occasion all too much that day – making mistakes and not having the pace to go with the current Ballymore favourite Hermes Allen. Despite dropping out the back of the TV however, he did make late gains to finish in 5th place, rather than what looked nailed on to be a tailed off last.
Stepping up in trip once again to 3m at Kempton 35 days ago, Collectors Item once again showed tremendous amounts of stamina to win another Novice Hurdle – once again needing to be asked for an effort before the afterburners kicked in to see him beat Makin’yourmindup (128) by an ever widening 2 lengths. Some will point to the fact that there is a 4lbs swing in favour of the Paul Nicholls Horse in this race, however the further they went the better Collectors Item was – so the seemingly never ending home straight at Haydock should suit this improving 6yo perfectly.