Altior walks to the gallops under assistant trainer Toby Lawes
Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
After a weekend figuring out some of the biggest handicap puzzles, racing fans will be counting down to the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday, in which the peerless Altior is set to star.
Three-runner affairs often are not very inspiring, but the 2m novice event at Ffos Las (2.35) could be an exception, with useful trio Potters Story, The Last Day and Whatswrongwithyou all rated within 7lb of each other.
It is good to see some big fields over jumps at Fontwell and Punchestown while Wolverhampton stages racing under the floodlights in the evening.
The Clarence House forfeits will come through, as will the entries for the Thyestes Chase.
There are three jumps meetings on Tuesday with action at Newcastle and Lingfield in Britain and Fairyhouse in Ireland, where the Gordon Elliott-trained smart bumper performer Getaway John is a particularly interesting entry in the 2m7f maiden hurdle (3.30).
Sent off just 6-1 to win the Grade 1 bumper at the Punchestown festival last year, he rates a promising staying novice hurdling prospect.
Kempton supply the all-weather action for those fond of the Flat.
Novices at Newbury are often a rich source of talent, frequently from the Nicky Henderson yard, and the trainer bids to win the 2m½f novice hurdle (1.40) for the third consecutive year after victories with Beyond Conceit (2017) and Whatswrongwithyou (2018).
Top two-mile chaser Saint Calvados burst onto the scene at this meeting last year too, while the Mionetto Prosecco Handicap Chase is likely to produce a competitive field.
After enjoying their biggest day of the year on January 6, Plumpton stage another meeting on Sky Sports Racing, with Kempton and Lingfield satisfying Flat fans.
Racing remembers top North Yorkshire-based trainer Alan Swinbank on Thursday, with Market Rasen’s Listed bumper (2.40) named in his memory.
There is also a chance we could see the winner of Cheltenham’s Foxhunter Chase on Thursday, with many of the big names entered at Ludlow. Wincanton also stage a meeting with Newcastle keeping punters entertained well into the evening.
Final declarations for Saturday’s racing will come through on Friday, with Ascot hosting a Grade 3 and a Grade 2 on Saturday as well as the feature Group 1 Clarence House Chase.
We will also know the fields for the four Grade 2s at Haydock, including the first running of the Champion Hurdle Trial named after The New One and the Peter Marsh Chase.
Chepstow and Musselburgh stage cards over jumps with Lingfield and Newcastle on the Flat.
Any day Altior races is a good one, and Nicky Henderson’s star chaser again takes to the stage in the Clarence House Chase.
He could face last year’s winner Un De Sceaux – who he memorably vanquished in a box office edition of the Tingle Creek – as well as Fox Norton and Diego Du Charmil.
The 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur could bid to redeem himself in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock after an early blunder put paid to his chances at Aintree last time.
Ayr and Exeter stage meetings, but the focus is on Thurles and the Grade 3 Kinloch Brae Chase, which has been won by Gold Cup winners Don Cossack (2015, 2016) and Sizing John (2017) in recent years.
Who knows, with rain forecast could we see this year’s Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy finally make an appearance?
In addition, keep your eyes peeled for a Desert Orchid special in our Sunday paper.
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