Six Selections from Ascot and Haydock for Long Walk Hurdle and Tommy Whittle Day

The last Saturday before Christmas sees staying hurdlers headline the card at Ascot with the Long Walk Hurdle over 3m. Meanwhile, at Haydock, the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase is the feature race. See who our experts fancy for the last major race meetings before the most wonderful time of the year…

Ascot betting tips – Roksana each-way value in Long Walk Hurdle

The Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle is billed as rematch between Thyme Hill and Paisley Park from Newbury, but Roksana heads to Ascot with solid each-way claims (14:25). Trained by Dan Skelton, this mare gets weight all-round from her nine rivals here.

Roksana ran out a very easy winner of the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle on reappearance. While terms were firmly in her favour, there is substance to the form. The runner-up at Wetherby, Next Destination, has since made a belated and victorious chasing bow in a Grade 2 at the Winter Carnival at Newbury.

Despite the presence of the in-form Main Fact in the line-up, regular jockey Fergus Gillard cannot use his claim in the Long Walk Hurdle. Roksana comes out level on adjusted ratings with joint-favourite Thyme Hill yet is almost four times his price at a standout 15/2 with Bet365 here and each-way value on that basis.

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Caribean Boy the Graduation Chase choice

In a competitive but select renewal of the 2m 5f Graduation Chase earlier on the card (13:15), Caribean Boy can make it a hat-trick of wins in 2020. Trained by Nicky Henderson, this Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned gelding landed a novices’ limited handicap at Haydock in February and then made a winning reappearance.

That came in the Grade 2 Berkshire Novices’ Chase during the Newbury Winter Carnival at the end of last month. Henderson is clearly keen to get more experience of fences into Caribean Boy, who was ante post joint-favourite for last week’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

The fact that he runs here at Ascot instead looks significant, then. The presence of Itchy Feet in the four-runner line-up means this is competitive, but Caribean Boy represents a yard back among the winners this week. His odds with bookmakers reflect his chances now down in grade.

Belfast Banter overpriced for Betfair Exchange Trophy

In the Grade 3 Betfair Exchange Trophy, a 2m handicap hurdle which closes Long Walk Hurdle day (15:35), Irish raider Belfast Banter is worth a shot each-way. Trained by Peter Fahey, this five-year-old has finished behind some useful types in his career so far.

Belfast Banter has a bevy of big handicaps at home over Christmas that he could run in. Again, it looks significant that he make the trip across the Irish Sea for this. As Belfast Banter chased home Captain Guinness last season and Jon Snow at the Galway Festival this summer, he has been keeping good company.

Sneaking into this at the foot of the weights off 124 could be a great level. Bookmakers are paying up to six players on the Betfair Exchange Trophy, so the 14/1 on offer with the sponsors off those terms look generous. Many other have claims, with course and distance winners Buzz and Kid Commando among them, but Belfast Banter could at least hit the frame.

Haydock betting tips – Enqarde the Tommy Whittle each-way wager

There was lots to like about Enqarde landing a novice hurdle at Newcastle last week, and he now switches to fences for the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase over the Befair Chase course and distance at Haydock (14:40). Trained by Dr Richard Newland, this French import to his stable won last year’s Grand Steeple-Chase de Toulouse.

This six-year-old son of Kapgarde could be thrown in on his British chase bow off a mark of 124. It equates to bottom weight here with Cillin Leonard again taking 7lb off with his claim. The comfortable way in which they scored over the smaller obstacles on soft ground recently suggests a staying trip will be no problem.

It makes Enqarde a fascinating debutant. Four of the last six Tommy Whittle winners were the same age, and Newland landed this back in 2014. Enqarde thus appeals off his feather weight at 7/1 with BetVictor each-way.

Rayna’s World appeals in Abram

In the Listed Abram Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over an extended 2m 2f (12:55), Rayna’s World can resume winning ways. Trained by Phil Kirby, this five-year-old daughter of Poet’s Voice has some interesting Flat form. This includes when chasing home Cornerstone Lad over 2m at Catterick on heavy going.

Since switching to hurdles, Rayna’s World ran a personal best third to Concertista in the Grade 2 Dawn Run at the Cheltenham Festival. A number of mares have come out and won since to advertise that form. The winner landed a Grade 2 in very easy fashion at Fairyhouse’s Winter Festival.

Rayna’s World bolted up at a canter around Hexham over 2m 4f on her return to hurdles, but then found the drop back in trip against her at the same venue last time out. Now back up in distance, she can give a much better account of herself. Rayna’s World is a 3/1 chance with William Hill for some more black type here.

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Elvis Mail value to follow-up

In the 2m novice chase (12:20), Elvis Mail has an eye-catching jockey booking and appeals as a potential improver over fences. Trained in Scotland by Nick Alexander, a back injury to daughter Lucy means Sam Twiston-Davies deputises in the saddle.

Elvis Mail has winning handicap hurdle form on heavy ground and made a successful chasing debut at Ayr on reappearance. He should have learned plenty for that experience, and the third home Marown has since gone on to win.

Despite the presence of last year’s Fighting Fifth hero Cornerstone Lad make his own bow over the larger obstacles here, Elvis Mail looks the value. Connections mean business with Twiston-Davies taking over in the saddle. Elvis Mail is 3/1 with William Hill to go in again.

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