Paul Callaghan’s Horse Racing Preview – Saturday 20th February

Former jockey Paul Callaghan previews Saturday’s racing from Ascot, Haydock and Wincnaton.

3.35 Ascot Chase (Grade 1) over 2m5f8y.
Cyrname has a tongue tie and cheek pieces applied after being pulled up 4 out in the King George having stopped quickly. Prior to that, he was an impressive winner of the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.

Harry Cobden has remained loyal to Cyrname and left the mount on Master Tommytucker free for Daryl Jacob to pick up.

Master Tommytucker is a talented individual, who I think will be suited by the small field, facing just 4 rivals but I don’t think he will like the ground to be as testing as it will be.

I’m going to take a chance on Dashel Drasher in his bid to complete a hat-trick of victories.

He is fulfilling that promise he showed, despite being quite raw in his younger days over hurdles.

A slight concern would be that he has had two hard races on his last two outings but he is by no means over raced. This will be his seventeenth career start in total, so he should be fine. He will need to improve but that is entirely possible.

2.05 Haydock – Rendlesham Hurdle (Grade 2) over 3m58y.
Main Fact would be thereabouts if bouncing back, having found life tough in Grade 1 company, finishing 7th of 7 finishers in The Long Walk Hurdle behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill.

Itchy Feet is prominent in the betting market but regular jockey Gavin Sheehan has opted to partner Emitom who is having his first start since having a wind operation.

Emitom reverts back to hurdles having disappointed in two starts over fences. He has a little over 5 lengths to find with Lisnagar Oscar, on their clash in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March.

It’s his first start since October and if he rediscovers his smart novice form over hurdles, I expect him to play a serious role in the finish.

1.50 Ascot – Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) over 2m7f180y.
Three lengths separated Demachine and Sevarano, in favour of the Demachine, when the pair clashed at Newbury on the 29th of December. The conditions of this race favour Sevarano to reverse that form.

Sevarano having been held up, was closing on Demachine as they hit the line but Richard Patrick forced his hand early onboard Demachine and the pair were still in with a fair chance jumping the second last fence.

I think ridden with a bit more restraint even on these terms, Demachine can take this.

The first three fences here are crucial for these novices, as they are downhill on the run to Swinley Bottom. If you meet one of them wrong, you’re on the back foot and it will be a long way home.

2.25 Ascot – Swinley Chase (A Limited Handicap) (Listed Race) over 2m7f180y.
I tipped up Jerrysback on his return to action when he finished a gallant third at Ascot over 2m5f on the 23rd of January in a race won by Dashel Drasher.

That was his first run since December 2019, and the dreaded “Bounce Factor” makes him an unattractive proposition in my opinion.

I think with the ground set to be very testing, it may pay to side with the teenager, Regal Encore; he will love it!

He’s a Graded winner over fences; he won a Grade 3 contest at Ascot on the 31st of October in testing conditions. He didn’t fancy it at Newbury in that competitive handicap chase won by Cloth Cap, but he has since finished third at Ascot behind Mister Malarky on heavy ground.

That run was off a handicap mark of 150. He is lining up once again on Saturday off 150 and has won off that mark in the past.

I know he is 13 years old but he will absolutely love these conditions and I think it will be a slow motion finish which he will surely play a part.

3.18 Wincanton – Kingwell Hurdle (Grade 2) over 1m7f65y.
Song For Someone is a dual Grade 2 winner. He just managed to hold on and deny Silver Streak victory in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham on his last start.

For Song For Someone fans it has to be a slight concern that his best form has come on slightly stiffer tracks.

He generally gets caught for speed when the race quickens and does his best work late on. Wincanton is a flat track so he will be hoping that there will be plenty of pace on early.

Navajo Pass will surely bold along in front but having been a shock winner in Grade 2 company at Haydock on his last start, when allowed to dictate his own fractions throughout, he will not have that element of surprise here.

I think at a price, course and distance winner Friend Or Foe is worth an each-way play.

He won’t mind the ground and was a good second at Sandown on his last run behind Guard Your Dreams, Friend Or Foe finished 19 lengths clear of the third.

He will need to take a step forward on the form book but with just the 6 runners lining up, in what could be a tactically run race, Friend Or Foe is my each way selection.

Bet here.