The Wizard of Odds guides you through Saturday’s racing at Newmarket, Wetherby, Ascot, Ayr and Newcastle
MAGIC DANCER can conjure up a major victory in Ascot’s 3.00.
Kerry Lee’s flag bearer has experience of winning big-field hurdles as he showed when running away with a 19-runner event at Cheltenham this time last year.
He improved on that when taking another hot contest at jumping’s HQ in April.
He came back from six months off to run a really good race at Prestbury Park last time out.
Despite making a late error he boxed on strongly to finish second and he runs off the same mark today.
That run should have brought him on for fitness and, as a six-year-old, you would hope he has more to offer.
Caius Marcius likes this trip and is another fit from a recent run. He couldn’t have won any easier at Market Rasen there and he deserves this step up in class.
The handicapper was watching and a 13lb rise is a little harsh but he looks capable of improvement.
Simply The Betts didn’t get out of second gear when landing a narrow win at Hexham last month.
He could still be on a fair mark and has place prospects.
KINGS LAD (3.35 Ascot) can reign in the Sodexo Gold Cup.
He has won his past three spins over fences and he had a bit more in hand than the official margin of half a length when winning at Chepstow last time out.
He saw out the 3m distance really well there and a 7lb rise in the weights looks fair given how much his form has improved.
He likes to race up with the pace, which is a good idea at Ascot, and all ground seems to come the same to him.
Trainer Colin Tizzard has started the season well and Richard Johnson in the saddle catches the eye.
Traffic Fluide looks a threat after coming home second at Chepstow last time.
That was his seasonal comeback in good company and there was a good gap to the third horse home.
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He progressed quickly last season and ended up winning one of these Grade 2 contests at Cheltenham.
This is a different track but he’s still well weighted given that there could be more improvement to come.
At a fair price, Play The Ace has been crying out for a return to this sort of distance. He finished well when second over shorter at Market Rasen last time and the handicapper has left him alone.
Wizard’s magic tips…
EACH-WAY DOUBLE: COLLIDE (3.10 Newmarket) was an impressive handicap winner at Nottingham last time and looks ready for this step up in class over an ideal trip.
Pair the son of Frankel with LE PATRIOTE (3.25 Ayr) who went well on his comeback at Chepstow last time and looks overpriced.
The ground has clobbered the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby (2.40) with most of the mudlarks pulling out.
There’s still plenty of quality on show but a five-horse race could easily turn into a tactical affair.
Enigmatic is a word used to describe DOUBLE SHUFFLE but he has plenty of ability and this time of year might be when to catch him.
He went close at Ascot before running Might Bite to a length in the King George VI on Boxing Day.
Things went slightly downhill after that and those exertions may have left a mark on him.
He comes back after a nice break and should run well over a trip he likes. Black Corton looks a big threat and he’s another who showed his best form early on last year.
Unlike a couple of these, he likes decent ground and a repeat of the form that saw him win a Grade 1 at Kempton at Christmas would make him hard to beat.
Virgilio is rising up the chasing ranks and was impressive when winning the Summer Cup at Uttoxeter in July.
He clearly likes the ground on the lively side and deserves this step out of handicap company.
12.15 Firebird Song
12.50 Imperial Charm
1.25 Aspire Tower
2.00 Secret Return
3.10 Collide ew
1.15 Atomic Rumble
1.50 Amour De Nuit
2.25 Champagne At Tara
3.00 Magic Dancer
3.35 King’s Lad
12.20 Steps And Stairs
12.55 Smackwater Jack
2.05 Lady Buttons
2.40 Double Shuffle
3.50 Secret Legacy
12.30 Sassy Diva
2.15 Rolling Maul
2.50 Pistol Park
3.25 Le Patriote ew
3.55 Eeze A Saint
3.30 Oscars Ridge
4.30 You Never Can Tell
5.30 I’m Dapper Too
6.00 Harry George
7.00 So Macho