A weekend of fascinating action lies ahead and as i'm writing this late on Thursday evening there really is some massively intriguing contests to get stuck into over here as well as in Ireland, which is leaving me with a dilemma of where actually to start.
I'll start things off at Ascot where the Grade 1 Ascot Chase takes centre stage and it really is some race this one. Three really progressive sorts all battling it out at the top of the market in Top Notch, Waiting Patiently and Coney Island. All three of them come here as their last stop before heading to the Cheltenham Festival all of which hold strong respective chances. For me, personally Waiting Patiently should be the favourite here. I really like this boy, he was brilliant the last day at Kempton and think he's got a lot more to give and it'd be great to see Ruth Jefferson get a big win in dedication of her late great father.
We're of course missing another big gun out in this Ascot feature though and that's of course the reigning champ and old boy in Cue Card. He won this in style last year in albeit a much weaker renewal. He's now twelve and I believe connections have said this will be his last season before being retired. Paddy Brennan will be back on board which is nice to see and who knows, the old boy still might have one more big one left him. He'll need too be back to close to his best though here if he is to serve it up to these younger impressive progressive sorts.
Moving North now to Haydock and the Grand National Trial takes centre stage up there which has Blaklion sitting at the top of affairs for Nigel Twiston-Davies on what is apparently his last stop before another tilt at the Grand National itself. However some punters believe Blaklion has a live chance in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and a fair amount of money has been said to of already been put down on him for that. If he wins this off top weight around here it would very much put him in the picture for that contest. All being said, it will be some performance if he can carry top weight around this endurance test of a track and go in again.
Last year's winner Vieux Lion Rouge won't be returning this time around to have another pop at this but connections do run Daklondike and he's a really interesting one for me. Keep an eye out for him here.
Now, i'm going to round up here on what is at the moment the most intriguing contest of all in my opinion and that's the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase over at Gowran Park. I mean, this may all well be a pointless topic in 24 hours if none of the horses i'm about to mention are actually declared but at this moment in time we've got Our Duke, Presenting Percy and the return of Douvan all said to go here.
Starting with Our Duke i'm very surprised to see him back out again so soon after his return in the Irish Gold Cup. I genuinely thought that they'd go to Cheltenham fresh on the back of that run but they obviously feel he needs another run and he is actually apparently meant to be turning up for this.
Presenting Percy is currently one of the market leaders for the RSA at The Festival and like Our Duke is also said to be turning up for this too as his last run before the RSA. Which makes it all that more fascinating if Douvan does turn up here. If he doesn't turn up that will be that in regards to him getting a run before Cheltenham as there simply won't be enough time. It will be some test for him though here if they do all show up here, and if he turns up and runs well the distance of this contest suggest he may well be aimed at the Ryanair at Cheltenham instead of the Champion Chase.
But let's be honest, who knows. Enjoy the action!