Great Britain

Ascot races: tips, racecards and preview for Long Walk Hurdle meeting on Saturday

THE rain is gushing down from Berkshire to John O'Groats, but that doesn't detract from the fact there's a top class card at Ascot on Saturday.

Paisley Park is the headline act but there are also a couple of very competitive handicaps - so make sure you don't miss a thing.

Race 1 - 12.40 Foundation Developments Novices' Handicap Hurdle

An interesting opener which sees PEMBERLEY hold very strong claims.

Emma Lavelle's stable has been given a new lease of life this term and her six-year-old was an emphatic winner at Hereford last time out in soft ground.

He benefited from a drop in trip that day but connections are obviously unfazed about stepping him back up in distance and a rise in the weights may not be enough to stop his progress.

Easyrun De Vassy is an obvious danger given he went so close over this trip at Taunton last time out and is in very capable hands.

First-time cheekpieces could buck his ideas up a bit and if they eke out a little bit of improvement then he'd be a big danger.

Jonjo O'Neill has put blinkers on March Is On given he didn't quite finish his race off at Chepstow last time and he'd have claims on his previous Southwell victory, while Mister Tickle shouldn't be ignored in his current vein of form.



Race 2 - 1.15 Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase

A small field declared for this but a very competitive race all the same.

Double Shuffle is the highest rated in the field but has been out of form for some time now and may just find his a little too hot.

The improving Riders Onthe Storm was given a hefty rise by the handicapper for winning at Aintree and although he has strong claims, this is a much tougher ask than last time.

Henry De Bromhead doesn't send horses across the Irish Sea for nothing and he can make the trip worth it for PALOMA BLUE.

He ran smart chaser Getabird close at Gowran on his return and should improve for that outing given it was his first for a while.

He'll love the ground and could easily have improvement left in his second season over fences.

On The Blind Side was a touch disappointing in the Ladbrokes Trophy and although he acts well at this track, needs to put it all in if he's to have a chance.

Adrien Du Pont is capable of winning this but he's also been out of form for a while and has to show more.



Race 3 - 1.50 Plymouth Gin Handicap Chase

A tasty looking handicap where First Flow heads the market after a bloodless success at Hereford last time out.

Kim Bailey's chaser is improving all the time and his jumping keeps getting better, so he has obvious claims off a mark of 140.

However, he's been put firmly in his place on almost every occasion he's tackled a decent field and it's not certain he'll like enjoy taking on this many runners.

Considering Venetia Williams' brilliant run of form at the moment, it would be no surprise to see ESPOIR DE GUYE do the business.

He was a very easy winner at Exeter last time and although he's gone up 9lb, this will be just his third chase start.

The step to this trip clearly helped him a lot that day and his stable is flying along.

Golden Whiskey was an easy winner at Ffos Las last time out, though is held by Espoir De Guye on his Chepstow run and isn't expected to reverse the form, while both Kobrouk and My Way are unexposed but may struggle in this ground.

Garde La Victoire is returning from a long absence and this isn't an easy race in which to make his return.



Race 4 - 2.25 Marsh Hurdle (Grade 1)

The big contest of the day is going to take some getting in the ground, but even if he doesn't fire on all cylinders it will take something special to see off PAISLEY PARK.

Emma Lavelle's seven-year-old has been the standout stayer since late last year and is miles clear on ratings over second-favourite Tobefair.

He stays, he jumps and goes well in most types of ground so his chance is there to see.

It would be a big shock if he lost, and a big shame too.

Papagana has been transformed since taking on 3m trips and she could well pick up the forecast spot if progressing again.



Race 5 - 3.00 Dave Dawes Silver Cup Handicap Chase (Listed Race)

A fascinating contest featuring a host of improving and unexposed chasers.

Yalltari is undeniably appealing given the form of the Venetia Williams camp but he has to defy a lengthy absence and that could be tough in this ground.

His mark looks fine but this is a very tough race in which to make his return.

Mister Malarky can't be ignored given his connections and we know he likes this C&D as he won the Reynoldstown last year.

However, his run in the Ladbrokes Trophy was a little disappointing and it could just be he needs his mark to come down a touch.

The one to be with, then, is GIVE ME A COPPER.

Paul Nicholls' contender won very well in the Badger Beers Trophy and ought to have plenty more to come as a very lightly raced nine-year-old.

The ground is a slight concern but there's nothing to say he won't go on it and if he jumps and travels like he did at Wincanton then he'll be very hard to catch.

Crievehill has been pasted by the handicapper for two victories at Wetherby and Haydock, and although he did it well last time that's a very different track to this one and he needs to prove he can win off a revised mark.

Kildisart did nothing but improve last season and his third at Carlisle behind Lostintranslation was by no means devoid of promise.

He needs a bit more now but Ben Pauling has started to fire and he certainly has claims under Nico De Boinville.

Acting Lass finally got his act together at Chepstow last time in new headgear but needs more again.

One who could be worth a flutter each-way is Regal Encore.

He loves this track and always produces a big run, so may well surprise a few if putting it all in.



Race 6 - 3.35 Betfair Exchange Trophy (A Handicap Hurdle)

As always, this is extremely competitive.

Favourite Quoi De Neuf boasts obvious claims after a fine run to finish fourth in the Greatwood last time on just his second handicap start.

Evan Williams is having a fantastic season and his five-year-old is surely still well-treated off 133, though he has a bit to do to turn form around with Harambe.

Alan King's six-year-old was an emphatic winner of the Greatwood but the worry remains he was lame earlier in the week, and that's far from the ideal preparation for this.

Not So Sleepy has a massive chance for Hughie Morrison after winning so well at this track last time out.

That was just his third start over hurdles and he surely has plenty of progression left in him given how high he was rated on the Flat.

The ground will be fine for him and he deserves a significant amount of respect.

Umbrigado will probably appreciate dropping back in trip to 2m and he still has untapped potential for his top team, but this could go the way of WHOSHOTTHESHERIFF.

Philip Kirby's progressive five-year-old was just run out of it at Haydock last time but still ran a massive race and will appreciate the drop in trip here.

He's very consistent and should be able to boss things from the front.

Others to consider in a very open race are Sir Valentine and Countister.