The Ladbroke Hurdle is one Ascot’s two pre-Christmas highlights with a hugely competitive field set to do battle for a share of the £150,000 Grade Three handicap prize.
Our news team have run the rule over the top three horses to watch out for when the 21 runners line-up in Berkshire for this intriguing 2m contest with previous standalone favourite Rolling Star omitted from our list.
Upon first glance at the card for the upcoming Ladbroke Hurdle you could be forgiven for overlooking the chances of Paul Nicholls’ second-string contender, Irish Saint.
At odds of 25/1 with the sponsor, the four-year-old charge would appear to have been written off.
The fact that stable jockey Daryl Jacob has opted to mount Ptit Zig in favour of a return onboard the French-bred horse could also be interpreted as another negative.
However, a more detailed inspection of the form reveals far more about the talented hurdler with three wins from six starts the first illuminating statistic worth noting.
Last season’s Grade Two score in a juvenile contest at Kempton and subsequent third when re-opposing current market fancy Rolling Star at Aintree are other factors to consider, with a recent fall on his seasonal reappearance easily forgiven.
Tackling softer conditions underfoot is an issue unlikely to deter Irish Saint and at the current price he’s surely the value pick of this renewal.
Greatwood Hurdle winner Dell’ Arca perhaps has a few question marks surrounding his chances if rain continues to fall.
However, the Pipe yard are no strangers to success in this race with three victories in the last 10 years between trainer David and his father Martin.
The promising novice has been raised 8lb for that Cheltenham triumph, however given the aptitude he showed on his first start in the UK, expect another gutsy display of jumping with plenty left in the tank as the race unfolds.
Rated 12lb lower than Rolling Star and chasing a hat-trick of wins, City Slicker’s appeal is self-evident.
AP McCoy takes the ride from Ruby Walsh hoping to guide the Irish raider to another memorable victory for trainer Willie Mullins and despite his own penalty to contend with there’s still plenty to like.
Six five-year-olds have won this event in the last 10 years and the impressive Punchestown hero can continue that trend and remain unexposed.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date
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