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ITV Racing Preview – Saturday 22nd January

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Selections

It’s On!

It has been talked about for weeks and both sides have declared their intentions from a long way out, but the declarations are in, and it has been confirmed that ENERGUMENE will meet SHISHKIN in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

This will be one of the most eagerly anticipated races in the last decade. The weather is fine, dry, and cold, so the forecast Good to Soft ground is unlikely to change. Energumene has shown a confirmed preference for soft underfoot conditions and with the Ascot going likely to heavily favour Shishkin, but going right-handed will suit the Irish raider more and when you throw in last year’s winner First Flow, we have a mouthwatering clash to look forwards to.

Future Star?

The SBK Mares Hurdle is the supporting race on the Ascot card, and this looks to be a fantastic opportunity for WESTERN VICTORY. She has always run to a consistent standard in Ireland and has reached a level of form far beyond that of her 5 rivals. This will be her first run for Emma Lavelle, and it will be a surprise if she can’t be competitive on these terms.

Haydock Trials Day

Away from Ascot it is Cheltenham trials day at Haydock, with rehearsal races for the Supreme Novices and Champion Hurdle. All eyes will be on Nicky Henderson’s JONBON in the Supreme Trial, for which he is already a short priced 2/5 favourite. His trainer has stated that he needs more match practice and so this looks to be the obvious race for him before he attempts to take on his stablemate Constitution Hill in March. This won’t be a penalty kick, with the likes of Donny Boy and Lebowski arriving with unbeaten records over timber, but his connections will be hoping that he can overcome this test to firm up his festival credentials.

The Supreme Trial is followed by “The New One” Champion hurdle trial at 2:00. Nigel Twiston-Davies legendary hurdler won this race 4 times and whilst this years’ renewal is far from a classic, it will be interesting to see how TOMMY’S OSCAR does on his first venture into Grade 2 company. He has a long way to go before he can be considered a Champion hurdle contender, but Ann Hamilton’s 7-year-old has won his last 3 starts and does not look to have reached the peak of his ability yet.

The big handicap of the day is Peter Marsh Chase at 2:35. The ground is crucial to this race, with last year’s winner Royal Pagaille preferring cut in the ground. The same can be said for Bristol de Mai, Remastered and a few others and so it is EMPIRE STEEL who makes the most appeal at this stage. He would probably have won at Wetherby last month if he hadn’t fallen 4 out and he has more potential for improvement than most of his rivals.

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