On this week's What A Shout, host Dave Orton is joined by Ged Mason, the co-owner of Protekorat, Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway and bet365's Pat Cooney, as they preview the racing from Haydock and Ascot this weekend.
The Betfair Chase and Coral Hurdle are some of the feature races the panel discussed ahead of a busy Saturday of racing.
We've picked out some highlights from this week's edition of What A Shout in association with bet365.
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard makes his seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Chase on Saturday, the feature race on the card at Haydock at 3.00pm. Henry De Bromhead’s runner won the race in 2021 and he is to prevail again.
Despite being highly regarded by Rodway, he is taking on the defending champion this year due to the ground conditions at the Lancashire racecourse.
He said: “A Plus Tard is top of my power rankings in jumps racing, but I could not have him at the price for this race. On heavy ground at Haydock, there has to be serious doubts about whether he will handle the conditions.
“We know that Protekorat and Bristol De Mai will love the ground. I don’t think A Plus Tard will have faced conditions like this before in his career. He has also been beaten first time out before. You have to remember it is not all about Haydock tomorrow for this horse. Cheltenham in March is when he will be at his best.
“Dan Skelton is going to have Protekorat primed and ready for this race, as this is his Gold Cup, but the bet for me has to be Bristol De Mai to come out on top again. He will swim through the mud, and he loves Haydock. This would be his fourth success in this race, so he clearly loves this course.”
The Coral Hurdle is the highlight of the action at Ascot on Saturday afternoon at 2.40pm. All eyes will be on Constitution Hill as he makes his return to action. Nicky Henderson’s runner is to beat four rivals in the 2m3½f contest.
Rodway believes this is a race that Constitution Hill is going to dominate again and keep up his 100% record over hurdles.
He said: “I can’t wait for this race. Goshen is a very good horse, particularly on a right-handed track, but he is no aeroplane like Constitution Hill is.
“I am surprised some trainers have not had a go in this race to test the water against Constitution Hill, but it looks as though they do fear him. It is hard to see him being beat.”
Cooney highlighted that Constitution Hill is the favourite in the ante-post betting for the 2023 Champion Hurdle. Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner has held that position at the top of the market for the day one feature since he scored at the meeting back in March.
L’Homme Presse was one of the most impressive novice chasers last season. He was victorious in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Venetia Williams’ runner makes his return to action in the Grade Two Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at 2.05pm at Ascot. He is the favourite to win that 2m5f race.
Rodway thinks the biggest threat to L’Homme Presse may come from 5/2 shot Hitman, but he believes Paul Nicholls’ chase may have to settle for second place once again.
He said: “Hitman can give L’Homme Presse a good race here. He is a horse who is rarely out of frame. However, I expect Venetia Williams’ runner to step up from last season. I have him down as the eighth best horse in Great Britain and Ireland.
“As the season goes on, I expect he will get better. The one concern is this is first time out, but based on everything we know, he is the best horse in this race and if he reproduces anything near that, I expect him to win.”
Edwardstone (11/4) is the star attraction in the 3.15pm at Ascot, a handicap chase over 2m1f. The Arkle winner will need to concede a lot of weight to the rest of the field.
Rodway believes Edwardstone has the ability to prevail from 12 stone on his back and he is looking no further than Alan King’s runner.
He said: “I think he will win as he has a class edge. The handicap scale in this country is not wide enough to accurately represent the scale of different abilities. We saw an example of that at Wincanton when Frodon prevailed.
“When you have Grade One horses turn up against handicap horses, their ability to jump and travel is always going to get them into a challenging position. If he only comes second or third, he will get a lot of credit for trying to concede two stone to some horses.
“At the prices, he represents a great each-way bet to me as you are getting around evens for him to finish in the frame.”