Horse Racing Weekend Preview: Will L’Homme Presse Enhance his Gold Cup Claims at Ascot?

Racing Post expert Keith Melrose previews this weekend’s action in horse racing including a big meeting at Ascot and Grand National trials elsewhere.

Following Shishkin’s win in last week’s Denman Chase at Newbury, this week’s main story concerns Britain’s other main challenger for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in four weeks’ time.

Ascot Chase Preview

L’Homme Presse won the Brown Advisory two years ago and put up a mighty handicap performance in his first run in open company. Following a late mishap in the King George, he missed a year and returned with a win in the Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield. On Saturday he bids for a first open Grade 1 in the Ascot Chase over 2m5f.

The race has attracted a field of just four, including big outsider Sail Away. The other two runners will give L’Homme Presse a serious test. Pic D’Orhy is a hardy and reliable chaser these days, who on each of his last six starts has posted a Racing Post Rating between 162 and 169. That makes him a solid Grade 1 performer.

Also in the mix is Ahoy Senor, a talented individual who looks increasingly hard to catch right. Admittedly, it was not his fault that one of his jockey’s stirrups snapped four out last time and he has more speed than people tend to credit him with. A big run here could pave the way for a tilt at the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, which has a much more open look to it than the Gold Cup.

Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase Preview

Ahoy Senor’s connections also have the favourite for the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase on the card. Apple Away has plenty of good form over fences so far and gets a handy weight-for-sex allowance. She has entries in the Brown Advisory and National Hunt Chase and will probably need to win this to justify her place in either.

Even her more interesting rivals, the likes of Kilbeg King and The King Of Ryhope, will do well to get out of handicap company, at least this season.

Haydock Grand National Trial Preview

The action at Haydock could also impact the Cheltenham Festival, albeit less than in the past given it has lost a handful of its graded races. The recently demoted Victor Ludorum features Salver, who people got somewhat excited about for the Triumph Hurdle before Sir Gino came along. He is 14-1 for the Triumph with Boylesports and would need to win impressively here to make much of a dent in those odds.

The big betting race will be unlikely to affect Cheltenham, seeing as it is called the Grand National Trial. Still, there are plenty in here with the potential to make an impact in the spring marathons, so if they are your bag be sure to take a look.

Irish Racing Preview

In Ireland it is Red Mills day, featuring a graded hurdle and chase carrying that long-standing sponsor title. The only ramifications from the chase are likely to be if the mare Riviere D’Etel wins well. The hurdle is dominated by lightly-raced sorts. Favourite Lantry Lady has run only once before, winning impressively over this course and distance nearly a year ago.

Next in is What’s Up Darling, a novice last seen finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Royal Bond. The former could book her place in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham if she wins as her short odds would demand.

*Prices subject to fluctuation
Remember, always gamble responsibly. Here’s our Safer Gambling Guide.