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The Mandarin’s Saturday Selections for 23rd December 2023

The Mandarin’s Saturday Selections from Haydock Park & Ascot

Haydock Park

Betfred Nifty 50 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 11.45
Chti Balko
It could pay to side with Donald McCain’s Chti Balko for the opener at Haydock Park. It’s been a while since he got his head in front, but did so in fine style at Bangor-on-Dee three weeks ago, making all from the off and bolting up by 18 lengths. Abbie McCain returns to the saddle with her 3lb claim handy, so he looks well treated here with a solid record at this track adding to the appeal

Betfred TV Beginners’ Chase 12.20
Inedit Star
Just the three runners so a trappy race on paper, but the chance is taken on Nick Kent’s Inedit Star. He made a solid start to his chasing career with a 1 length second at Wetherby last month on heavy ground, and can be expected to come on for that run. With Doyen Star untried on going this deep, and Issuing Authority new to this sticky track and these conditions, French import Inedit Star makes the most appeal

Betfred Hat-Trick Heaven Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) 12.55
Little Miss Dante
Olly Murphy bumps Little Miss Dante up to a Black Type contest in search of the seasonal hat-trick here after wins at Ayr and Uttoxeter. With Sean Bowen firing in the winners and leading the Jump Jockeys’ Championship in the run-up to Christmas, and Olly Murphy also getting plenty in, Little Miss Dante has to be high up on the shortlist. Every chance of nailing the hat-trick

Betfred Hot Shots Handicap Chase 2.40
Real Stone (nb)
Dan Skelton’s Real Stone stepped up a level when winning here four weeks back, when his jumping won the day once he hit the front. There’s every chance of a repeat of that run with fairly similar conditions, so only Irish raider Bythesametoken rates a threat. However, winning form at Haydock Park on any ground with cut in it is always notable, so Real Stone gets the nudge


Howden Graduation Chase 1.15
Just the three declared for this Class 2 contest, but it should be a two-horse-race between Sheila Lewis’s Straw Fan Jack and Paul Nicholls’s Solo. On balance, it’s hard to oppose Solo, who has twice filled the runners-up spot here over fences, and should go one better this time. Straw Fan Jack is sure to let Solo try and have things his way from the front before making his move, so it is a fascinating duel in store. Solo to win

Howden Long Walk Hurdle (Grade 1) 2.25
West Balboa (nap)
A cracking renewal in store for this Grade 1 prize, where there are plenty of likely types. Our preference is for the prolific West Balboa, who continues to knock up the winners after scoring at Aintree on her seasonal reappearance. She made last season’s National Spirit Hurdle winner, Brewin’upastorm, look pretty ordinary in that Aintree run, so is taken to be at peak fitness here. The enigmatic Champ from Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows yard, who does go well fresh and Fergal O’Brien’s Crambo head the list of dangers, while Paisley Park might just be vulnerable to younger legs these days, so the unexposed West Balboa gets the nod

Howden Silver Cup Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 3.00
Yeah Man
A chance for redemption for Gavin Cromwell’s Yeah Man, who looked to be right in the mix over course and distance last month before crashing out at the last. He can exact revenge over Victtorino this time, with better ground playing into his hands. Wincanton’s Badger Beer winner, Blackjack Magic, makes obvious appeal, but it’s Yeah Man that has unfinished business here at Ascot. These are the three to keep on side, so a forecast covering these looks the way to go

The Mandarin

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