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Ascot Placepot 22nd Jan

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12:35

IRISH HILL was a talented Flat performer when he was trained by Pieter Schiergen in France and although he was a lucky winner on debut at Taunton (3-lengths down when left in front at the last), this stiffer test of stamina should be more to his liking. GRAYSTONE probably had him beaten at Taunton when he fell at the last and although he still has a penalty to carry for a Warwick win last month, he showed enough at Taunton to suggest he can repeat the does provided he is over that fall.

1:10

WINDS OF FIRE finished 3rd on his last outing at Taunton, but he was only beaten 2-lengths by a couple of progressive rivals, and he should be able to go close again from just a 1lb higher mark. David Maxwell puts a lot of time and money into the game and although he may not be everybody’s cup of tea as a jockey, he has some very well handicapped horses, including CAT TIGER. He was only beaten a nose by Kalooki at Doncaster last month and that form is probably the strongest on offer here, so he should be in the mix if in the same form.

1:45

Another race where solid form is in short supply. STONERS CHOICE may well have won at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day if he hadn’t made a mess of the 2nd last and should go close given that he has been dropped 1lb for that 3-length defeat. Whilst STELLAR MAGIC split a couple of progressive 5-year-olds when finishing 2nd at Haydock last month, which was his first run since February. If he improves for that effort, he should go close in this field despite the 4lb rise.

2:20

If there is a Placepot banker on this card, then it is surely WESTERN VICTORY. She has loads of solid form at this level in Ireland and never seems to run a bad race. The switch from Declan Queally to Emma Lavelle may seem a strange one at this stage of her career, but there will be plenty of opportunities for her in Mares races in the UK and it will be a surprise if she isn’t involved in the finish on Saturday in what looks to be a fairly weak renewal of this race.

2:55

JP McManus looks to have a strong hand in this race and his 2 entries, PALMERS HILL and PHOENIX WAY look to be the most obvious pair to concentrate on. The former has looked very progressive in his 2 victories at Wetherby and here last month and an 8lb rise for that 7-length victory last time should still leave him competitive. Whilst the latter can be a little frustrating, this race should be run to suit, and he is likely to be running on at the finish.

3:30

It’s the most eagerly anticipated race of the season but with only 4-runners we are going to have to sit on the fence. If SHISHKIN is to be beaten then it will surely come at a right-handed track and with no obvious competition for the lead, the race should suit ENERGUMENE, even if he would have appreciated more rain. However, there is also a nagging doubt that last year’s winner FIRST FLOW is being overlooked. He won the Peterborough chase with some authority last month he will also appreciate having a good pace to aim at, so we will throw him in too in the hope he can cause an upset.

Placepot Picks

1-3

1-10

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3

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