Today's Racing - Barry Hill's Best Bets

Barry Hill gives us his best bets today from Ascot, Haydock, Newcastle & Gowran Park.

With top quality racing from Ascot, Haydock & Gowran Park as well as racing from Wincanton, Newcastle and Wolverhampton,  Barry Hill gives his best bets.

1.50 Ascot -  Kilbeg King - 9/1

Sodexo Live! Reynoldstown Novices' Chase (Grade 2) (GBB Race)

This race could be interesting with KILBEG KING benefiting if front-runners Apple Away and Brave Kingdom challenge each other early on. Anthony Honeyball's runner showed promise behind a French star at Kempton and looks set to handle the three-mile distance well, showing signs of improvement with each race. Apple Away, transitioning well to fences from hurdles, and Brave Kingdom, known for leading from the front, also bring strong performances into the mix. Henryโ€™s Friend and The King Of Ryhope will need to step up to compete at this level.

2.05 Wincanton - Colonel Mustard

Jennings Bet Kingwell Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race)

Colonel Mustard is set to return to hurdles, where he's previously shown more promise compared to his latest foray into chasing. His track record, featuring three Grade 1 podium finishes with only a single victory over jumps, is somewhat perplexing. However, this race presents an excellent opportunity for him to add to his win tally. His last appearance over hurdles resulted in a commendable third place at the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, indicating the suitability of this distance for him. Known for his competence on heavy ground, Colonel Mustard is a strong contender to watch.

Nemean Lion returns to a smaller field, a scenario where he's previously excelled, following commendable performances in handicaps at Cheltenham and Kempton. His victory at Kelso last season in similar conditions highlights his versatility and ability to perform on any type of ground, making him an intriguing prospect for this race.

Rubaud, although overshadowed by the exceptional Lossiemouth at Cheltenham in his last outing, has proven his mettle with a second place in the Christmas Hurdle and a victory in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle in November, both over this distance. Representing Paul Nicholls, Rubaud is poised to be a significant player in this race, demonstrating the capability to impact the outcome.

Goshen, the winner of this event in both 2021 and 2022, presents a more complex equation. His recent form suggests a waning affinity for the sport, yet the introduction of first-time blinkers by trainer Gary Moore could rekindle his competitive edge. If Goshen can recapture any semblance of his peak performance, he remains a formidable competitor, though his current form remains an enigma.

2.25  Ascot - Rare Edition - 7/1

Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race)

Harry Cobden's back riding RARE EDITION after adecent  win at Kempton. The horse looked strong over two miles and seems set for better with a bit more distance. A slight weight increase seems fair, and a bit of wet ground could work in their favor.

Santos Blue really showed up at Wetherby, with the jockey handling a mishap and still finishing strong. This horse has stamina and is a dependable runner.

Bad, despite the name, did well here last time. With Ben Pauling's current form and cheekpieces added, this five-year-old has a shot.

Hyland has been steady, doing well in recent races. A shorter distance this time might just be the ticket for a strong finish.

Irish Hill, after pushing too hard in the Lanzarote, is coming back to a race he won last year, now carrying less weight. With Freddie Gingell's claim, he's a solid bet for an each-way.

2.40 Haydock - Butch -9/4

Virgin Bet Rendlesham Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race)

In the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle, BUTCH, although facing tough competition on paper, has a fighting chance with a weight advantage over Botox Has and is currently in top form. My selection had a strong win at Cheltenham recently and could have won more convincingly with a later push. Sean Bowen teams up with trainer Olly Murphy for this race, adding an exciting dynamic to BUTCH's potential performance.

2.52 Gowran Park - Alpesh Amin - 8/1

Full Circle Series At Punchestown Festival 2024 Qualifier Handicap Hurdle

If you're hunting for some value among the races, the Red Mills day at Gowran Park might just be your golden ticket, especially with all the short-priced favs around. The race to watch? The 2m4f handicap hurdle. It's packed, competitive, and ripe for an each-way bet. Keep an eye on ALPESH AMIN, trained by Eric McNamara. This horse loves the heavy ground, has a track record of wins in similar conditions, and has been performing solidly since coming back from a break. Despite a slight weight increase, he's shown consistency and could tick all the right boxes for this race.

3.00 Ascot -  Torn And Frayed - 9/1

Injured Jockeys Fund Ambassadors Programme Swinley Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race)

"Sounds Russian" is a horse that catches my interest at Haydock, though the betting odds have already accounted for his potential in the Virgin Bet Rendlesham Hurdle after a break and switching back to hurdles. On the other hand, the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton doesn't draw my attention, leading me to focus on Ascot instead.

The track at Ascot currently has good to soft ground, with the previous mentions of 'soft in places' no longer being part of the official ground description. There's a concern that if the ground dries further, it might deter the participation of Betfair Ascot Chase's main attraction, L'Homme Presse, potentially saving him for the Gold Cup instead. However, it remains an exciting prospect to see him compete here, especially after his victorious return against Protektorat at Lingfield, despite carrying extra weight.

Paul Nicholls, a trainer with four Grade 1 victories to his name, although only two since the era of Kauto Star, might find it surprising to some that his horse, Pic Dโ€™Orhy, needs to step up his game even more after a narrow loss to Banbridge at Kempton's Silviniaco Conti, despite attempting a weight concession.

Ahoy Senor particularly piques my interest. Over the last day, I've grown more fond of his potential, yet the current odds prevent me from placing a bet. Considering him for the Ryanair at the Festival might have been wise, but the appealing 20/1 odds are no longer available, making this race just another small-field event to observe.

The Injured Jockeys Fund Ambassadors Programme Swinley Handicap Chase seems more favorable for betting, and I'm choosing to back TORN AND FRAYED with a win-only bet, expecting him to benefit from the current ground conditions.

Despite being a 10-year-old with fewer races due to a near two-year break after a win at Cheltenham in January 2022, his performance hasnโ€™t been as hoped since returning. However, his sixth-place finish behind Fugitif in the December Gold Cup hints at potential worth betting on under better conditions.

So far, this season's soft or heavy ground hasnโ€™t suited him, especially when he was heavily handicapped in his last race. Now, refreshed and racing at his accurate mark, which is slightly higher than his notable win two years ago, he's anticipated to perform well on a right-handed track, a return that could see him excel under Sam Twiston-Davies.

With mostly only Threeunderthrufive as a fellow front-runner, the race dynamics might favor him if he can maintain or stay close to the lead. Despite being underestimated in the betting market, I believe he's a contender worth watching.

3.15 Haydock - Snipe - 6/1

Virgin Bet Grand National Trial Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race)

The Haydock Grand National Trial is shaping up to be a real slog through the mud, the muckiest it's been in ages. Basically, when the ground's a mess, a lot of horses just don't show up with their A-game. Remember the Welsh National in December? If it wasn't for Nassalam's crazy 34-length win, we'd be all about Iron Bridge and Iwilldoit, who were pretty decent despite the conditions. But Nassalam's win kinda threw everyone for a loop, making the rest look way off their game.

Iron Bridge and Iwilldoit are dropping in the weights, which could make them favorites, but they're facing an even tougher challenge this time. I'm eyeing SNIPE, a fresh face with less mileage and potentially more in the tank. Despite being a newbie to long-distance races, Snipe's track record suggests he's got the stamina. Last race, he finished strong despite a late start, hinting he's up for a challenge. With a light load and a jockey's weight allowance, Snipe seems like a smart bet.

5.30 Newcastle - Smokey Mountain - 6/4 

Best Racing Odds Guaranteed At BetMGM Handicap

SMOKEY MOUNTAIN has been performing impressively, landing in the top two in almost all his races. He's on the verge of another win, with only a narrow miss last time. The handicapper has slightly adjusted his rating. Trying out a stiff seven furlongs for the first time could be the perfect match for him.