Ascot Handicap Hurdle betting tips at Horsebetting.com on Saturday, 22 December. Fidux is in the form of his life and looks the value punt to land the spoils in the 2m contest at the Berkshire venue for Alan King. Fiesole looks a major player as he bids to provide trainer Olly Murphy with back-to-back successes in the race, so is feared most. Mr Antolini, meanwhile, looks nicely treated on the pick of his form and appeals each-way. Read our in-depth 2018 Ascot Handicap Hurdle betting tips preview below for more details on these horses’ chances.Fidux value to complete hat-trick in Ascot Handicap HurdleFidux scored in tremendous style last time out, so looks value to defy a rise in the weights and land the Grade 3 Ascot Handicap Hurdle at the Berkshire venue on Saturday (15:35). This Alan King trained five-year-old has recaptured his form with a vengeance and is right at the top of his game at present.
The son of Fine Grain posted some solid efforts as a juvenile in 2017, most notably when a staying on third to the now very smart Call Me Lord in a hot handicap at Sandown. He then failed to live up to expectations and get his head in front last season, but looked a rejuvenated sort when making a winning return to action at Southwell back in October.
Fidux forged clear to easily beat Forecast by 4 1/2 lengths off a mark of 130 and it was a performance which suggested there was better to come. That was confirmed in no uncertain fashion when he romped to a 10-length success over Global Citizen last time out in a nine-runner Listed handicap over course and distance.
Good win over Global Citizen
After being held-up at the rear, the gelding travelled strongly into contention two from home. Jockey Wayne Hutchinson then produced Fidux to challenge at the last and with a good jump he scooted clear to win in fine style off a rating of 135.
The runner-up has since come out and landed the Gerry Feilden at Newbury’s Winter Carnival, so that gives the form a solid look. The assessor was also suitably impressed and has hit Fidux with a 10lb rise in the weights.
His revised rating of 145 is a career-high, but Fidux was placed in a Grade 2 as a juvenile off 137 and is clearly thriving. King has also been back among the winners of late, so the positives far outweigh the negatives. That’s why Fidux features as the main selection in our 2018 Ascot Handicap Hurdle betting tips.Fiesole a fascinating contender on debut for MurphyTrainer Olly Murphy won the race 12 months ago with Irish recruit Hunters Call and saddles a horse with a similar profile this time around in Fiesole. This six-year-old won three times and was placed on four occasions in 13 starts over hurdles for Eoin Doyle.
He now makes his debut for Murphy having posted a career-best effort last time out at Tipperary when landing an 11-runner handicap in good style. After being held-up at the rear of mid-division, the son of Montjeu made smooth headway travelling strongly two from home under a confident Paul Townend.
Fiesole was then produced to take up the running at the final fought and eased clear on the run-in to easily beat Wait Here by four lengths. He scored with any amount in hand and made a total mockery of his handicap mark of 112.
Yard does well with new recruits
As a result, he now starts of life with in-form handler Murphy off 21lb higher. That obviously makes things much tougher, but such was the authoritative manner in which he got the job done it would be folly to think that Fiesole is not capable of defying the massive hike.
Murphy is renowned for getting further improvement out of new recruits and is operating at a strike rate of 21 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing. He is sure to have Fiesole primed to the minute and has made no secret that this has been the target ever since the horse joined him.
A bold bid to follow-up looks assured in a race which looks sure to be run to suit the strong travelling Fiesole. Hence he is feared most a a typically wide-open and fierce renewal of the Ascot Handicap Hurdle, sponsored this year by the Betfair Exchange.Mr Antolini makes plenty of each-way appealOf those at bigger odds, Mr Antolini is a fascinating contender now dropped back in distance following two promising efforts this season. This eight-year-old has progressed at a rate of knots since joining trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies at the beginning of the year, winning twice and posting some solid efforts in defeat.
In the last of those successes, the gelding held on gamely under Jamie Bargary to beat the aforementioned Call Me Lord by a neck in the ultra-competitive 20-runner Grade 2 Imperial Cup over 2m at Sandown. Call Me Lord, from whom Mr Antolini was receiving 22lb, went on to beat very smart staying hurdler Lil Rockerfeller by 16 lengths in a Grade 2 at the same venue next time up.
The sixth home Silver Streak, who was rated just 3lb higher than the selection going into the race, has since landed the valuable Swinton Handicap at Haydock and the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las off a mark of 139 before finishing runner-up in the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham last weekend to be rated 156.
Coming back to form
That gives the form a rock solid look and Mr Antolini comes into the race following two decent runs. In the first of those, he was a fine fifth of 20 to First Assignment over 2m 5f at Cheltenham. After travelling well in mid-division, he made a couple of costly errors when mounting his challenge before weakening on the run-in to be beaten six lengths.
Mr Antolini backed that up with a fine staying on three-quarters of a length second to Black Mischief over 2m 3f at Haydock. He has been raised 3lb for that, but a revised rating of 141 still looks workable – especially on his run in the aforementioned Imperial Cup.
It’s also very interesting that he now drops back down to 2m. Mr Antolini has a 25 per cent strike rate over the trip having won three times and been placed on four occasions from 12 starts. So, in a race which is traditionally run at a strong end-to-end gallop, he will be staying on strongly when others have cried enough. Mr Antolini, therefore, features as the each-way punt and completes our 2018 Ascot Handicap Hurdle betting tips.Your Next Bet