TOP weight shouldn’t stop CLYNE.
He thrives on testing ground and his close second to top-class The New One in the Welsh Champion Hurdle was a smashing return to action.
His two wins at this track last season shows he will have his optimum conditions and talented claiming jockey Mitchell Bastyan takes off a valuable 5lbs.
Value At Risk has been a bit hit-and-miss over fences but he ran a belter back over hurdles last time.
He was probably a little flattered to get so close to top stayer Unowhatimeanharry but he still had smart Top Notch behind him in that three-runner race.
Today’s slight drop in trip should be in his favour and he has got form on testing ground.
Diamond Fort is on a roll and should run well but El Terremoto needs to step up on his promising Stratford success.
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BRACE yourself for THE WORLDS END.
He was the best staying novice hurdler of last season. If he is going to be good enough to be a Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle contender he needs to be winning a race like this.
He looked to be going well when falling two from home in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham and he went on to win the Grade 1 over three miles at Aintree.
There’s enough soft-ground form at places like Chepstow to hope he’ll handle today’s conditions.
Minella Awards did well after switching to Harry Fry’s in-form stable last season. His Sandown win came in what is usually a decent race and he went on to land a handicap at the Punchestown Festival.
The Dutchman – a smart chaser for Sandy Thomson last season – is very interesting on his first start for Colin Tizzard.
Champers On Ice and No Hassle Hoff are others to keep an eye on.
JOIN the Cue.
Old favourite CUE CARD is going for a fourth win in this race. His 15-length demolition of Coneygree 12 months ago was a monster effort.
That came on the back of a disappointing return when only third in the Charlie Hall Chase. He fell in that race this year when travelling perfectly well upsides eventual winner Bristol De Mai.
He’ll handle today’s ground and there’s no reason to think age is catching up with him just yet.
Bristol De Mai is the obvious danger. The Charlie Hall he won at Wetherby three weeks ago clearly fell apart but he could do no more than see off useful stablemate Blaklion up the straight.
His best performance of last season came in the Haydock mud when running away with the Peter Marsh Chase. That shows he’s likely to show his best form today but he still needs to improve to match a top-notcher like Cue Card.
Outlander has bounced back to form following a back operation. He loves heavy ground so would have to be respected if the front two fail to live up to expectations.
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ROBINSFIRTH looked good when winning at Exeter last season and he was a bit unlucky when unseating two out at Chepstow.
His comeback fourth behind Cogry at Cheltenham last month was another step forward and it should have put him spot on for today.
Lessons In Milan has yet to win over fences but he did sign off last season with a fifth in the Scottish National. He won on heavy ground over hurdles and he could easily have improved over the summer.
Midlands National hero Chase The Spud is likely to come into his own when upped in trip later in the season.
Catamaran Du Seuil got a magical ride from Brian Hughes to win at Ayr last time. His jockey will have to come up with another couple of tricks to get him home in front in this more competitive contest.
Templegate’s TV Tips
Haydock 1.50 – Clyne: ‘He thrives on testing ground and has talented conditional Mitchell Bastyan on board’ (add to your betslip)
Ascot 2.05 – Top Notch: ‘Nice prep run at Aintree should have put him right for this’ (add to your betslip)
Haydock 2.25 – The Worlds End: ‘Last season’s best staying novice hurdler should handle conditions’ (add to your betslip)
Ascot 2.40 – Defi Du Seuil: ‘He should pick up where he left off last season’ (add to your betslip)
Haydock 3.00 – Cue Card: ‘Old favourite showing no signs that age has caught up with him just yet’ (add to your betslip)
Ascot 3.15 – Sir Valentino: ‘Impressed last season and Exeter reappearance can be forgiven’ (add to your betslip)
Haydock 3.35 – Robinsfirth: ‘His comeback fourth behind Cogry should have put him spot on for this’ (add to your betslip)
AIM for the Top.
Nicky Henderson’s TOP NOTCH was one of the star novice chasers last season. His second to Yorkhill in the JLT Chase at Cheltenham was a fine effort and it was no surprise to see him run below par when only third behind Flying Angel at Aintree.
I’m confident he can reverse that form especially as he had a nice prep-run over hurdles when third behind Unowhatimeanharry.
Smad Place is best off at the weights. He’s been a cracking horse over the years and he showed he’s got no problem with today’s trip when winning the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last month.
If he’s in that sort of form again he’s sure to be involved in the finish.
Top Gamble has won three races at this Grade 2 level. He would like to see plenty of rain over night.
Double Shuffle made a promising return to action over an inadequate 2m3f at Chepstow. Today’s extra two furlongs is unlikely to be enough of a test for him.
Royal Regatta loves this place but he’s likely to be taken on up front by Frodon and Smad Place.
DEFI DU SEUIL should pick up where he left off last season.
He won all seven races after joining Philip Hobbs from France including three Grade 1s. His five-length Triumph Hurdle victory showed he was head-and-shoulders above the rest of the juveniles.
Four-year-olds can find it tough the following season but I’ve no doubt he is somewhere near the best hurdlers already.
L’Ami Serge hit form in the spring and he carried it on far enough to win the French Champion Hurdle in June. Perhaps the French-style of racing suits him and he is not an easy ride as he has to be held up. The small field won’t help those tactics.
Lil Rockerfeller is as tough as they come. He’ll improve for his Wetherby comeback but he doesn’t win perhaps as often as he should.
FALL in love with SIR VALENTINO.
Tom George’s ace developed into a decent two-miler last season. He won Exeter’s Haldon Gold Cup before hitting the frame in the Champion Chase.
It’s easy to forgive his return to action when pulled up trying to defend the Haldon Gold Cup as the ground was shocking. Today’s going will be much more to his liking.
Sire De Grugy won this race 12 months ago and he went on to chase home Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek. He’s 5lbs higher than last year but he has had a nice spin over hurdles to set him up for this.
San Benedeto rattled up a four-timer last season and he completed that sequence with victory in an Aintree Grade 1. His second to Politilogue in the Haldon Gold Cup shows he’s well up to this sort of level and today’s drier conditions will be in his favour.
12.20 Perfect Harmony
12.55 Lough Derg Farmer (nap)
2.05 Top Notch
2.40 Defi Du Seuil
3.15 Sir Valentino
3.50 Portrush Ted
12.10 Gortroe Joe
12.40 Russe Blanc (treble)
1.15 Born Survivor
2.25 The Worlds End
3.00 Cue Card
3.35 Robinsfirth (nb)
12.30 Casablanca Mix
1.05 Clondaw Castle
1.40 Fool To Cry
2.15 A Good Skin
2.50 Let’s Tango
3.25 French Crusader
11.45 Mr Large
12.50 Hit The Beat
1.25 Silver Dixie
2.35 Mr Andros
3.10 Mossy’s Lodge
6.15 Hipster Boy
6.45 Cool Breeze
7.15 Axe Cap
7.45 Captain Swift
8.15 General Hazard
8.45 Ingleby Angel