Money Back: 1.50 Ascot
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Arpege D'Alene bids to follow in the hoofprints of Gungadu and Rocky Creek as Paul Nicholls-trained Reynoldstown winners
Matt Brocklebank – Flintham
The two at the bottom of the card receiving weight make some appeal and with Flintham available at such long odds he could be worth chancing. Nico de Boinville gets on well with the tough gelding and him being back in the saddle looks a major positive. Flintham finished a very tired horse on his belated seasonal return at Chepstow last month but it looked a blatant case of him running out of puff in the closing stages. He could be much sharper for the outing and based on the pick of his hurdles form he shouldn't be such a huge price. He's no superstar and if there's a genuine RSA Chase horse in the line-up then he'll be outclassed, but I'm not convinced there is and the tough, front-running Flintham certainly shouldn't be scared of the 145-rated Arpege D'Alene who is surely going to need four miles to be seen at his best.
Will Hayler – Flintham
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When two minds as feeble as these agree, it can surely only end in tears. But Flintham was evidently nowhere near fit for his return at Chepstow and yet blazed along merrily for nine-tenths of the race, jumping with composure and galloping along in glorious isolation in front. The Bradstocks have always rated the chance of this likeable beast making up into a smart chaser, and in doing so emulating brother Carruthers and half-brother Coneygree. Not unlike those marvellous performers, Flintham has had his problems in recent seasons, but I just have a strange hunch he's going to outrun his double-figure odds against rivals who all have questions of their own to answer.
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Ben Coley – Label Des Obeaux
The form of Fletchers Flyer's Punchestown win in the spring is solid and his low-key return came at a time when Harry Fry's runners were struggling, so he's respected despite a penalty in a race which Arpege D'Alene will surely start favourite, but Label Des Obeaux looks rock solid and gets the vote. Alan King's horse has six lengths to find with Argepe D'Alene on their meeting at Cheltenham in December, and is also 2lb worse off, but he jumped out to his right under more speed-favouring conditions that day and appeared much more at home going right-handed on testing ground at Ludlow last time. That confidence-booster doesn't amount to much from a form perspective but his close second to the well-touted American at Exeter on his seasonal return certainly does and he can get closer to the jolly under these more suitable conditions. Paul Nicholls' runners are going better now following the usual January slump so Argepe D'Alene has to be considered the one to beat, but at the prices he's worth taking on knowing Label Des Obeaux's consistency gives us a good chance of at least landing a free bet.
Dave Ord – Arpege D'Alene
No prizes for originality here but Arpege D'Alene has been getting his act together over fences of late for Paul Nicholls and can land this prestigious prize. He's an interesting recruit to the larger obstacles having finished second in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last March. He has been back to Prestbury Park for his last two starts, jumping well when second to Singlefarmpayment two runs ago in novice company. He improved again when third in a competitive handicap back there last month and the greater the test of stamina, the better for him. Label Des Obeaux is respected and Fletchers Flyer will take a big step forward from his recent start but it's the market leader for me here.
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