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The Mandarin’s Saturday Selections for 25th November 2023

The Mandarin’s Saturday Selections from Punchestown, Haydock Park & Ascot


Liam & Valerie Brennan Florida Pearl Novice Chase (Grade 2) 1.23
Flooring Porter
Gavin Cromwell’s stable star made no mistake when getting his chasing career off to a perfect start at Cheltenham last month, and is sure to go off a warm order favourite here. A dual winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, he might have even more to offer over fences, and at prices of around 11/4 in the ante-post markets, looks underrated for the in-form trainer. Easy to back at that sort of price, and hard to oppose especially with drying ground in the forecast

Unibet Morgiana Hurdle (Grade 1) 2.35
State Man
Dangerous to say, but this should be a formality for State Man. This French bred gelding was just about the outstanding Irish hurdler last season, only finding Constitution Hill too good in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival back in March. He goes well fresh, so Willie Mullins sends him straight to the top table in what will be a defining campaign over timber. Very hard to oppose at a price to match

Haydock Park

Betfair Racing Podcasts Newton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 12.05
The chance is taken on Lucinda Russell’s Primoz, who won at a canter three weeks back at Ayr. Sent into Pattern company after just the one run under rules, there’s clearly plenty of faith in his ability with Derek Fox taking up the reins for this valuable prize. Henry Daly’s Bowenspark and Making Headway from Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero’s yard rate the main dangers, but if the rain stays away, then conditions look perfect for Primoz. Unexposed and interesting, one for the tracker

Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase 1.50
Gaillard Du Mesnil
Willie Mullins should make the trip over pay for Gaillard Du Mesnil, who can get this season’s chasing campaign off to a winning start. Last seen nearest at the finish in the Grand National at Aintree in April, having taken the National Hunt Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival the month before, this trip over twenty-one furlongs is pretty sharp, but he should have enough class to see the line first. Lucinda Russell’s Apple Away gets plenty of weight from the selection, so is the one to follow Gaillard Du Mesnil in, but it’s a tough ask for the mare. Gaillard Du Mesnil home and hosed at two o’clock

Betfair ‘Serial Winners’ Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) 2.20
A terrific clash in store between likely favourite Crambo and Irish raider Slate Lane, with a marginal preference for the former. It looks a close thing between the pair, and easy to make a case for both. Fergal O’Brien’s Crambo is four from six over timber, and acts on any ground, while Slate Lane has solid form at this trip, scoring in a Class 2 contest at Newton Abbot as recently as September. The going can be tacky at Haydock Park, so Crambo gets the nudge in a fascinating duel

Betfair Chase (Grade 1) 3.00
Bravemansgame (nb)
Just the four runners, but what a race in store for the feature. Last year’s winner, Protektorat lines up to defend his title, but might just want more cut in the ground, while hot favourite, Bravemansgame will be hoping the rain stays away. If that’s the case, then the Graduation Chase winner here from the 2021 meeting will be hard to beat. Venetia Williams and Lucinda Russell wouldn’t mind the softer going that makes Haydock Park such a wearying track for their pair of Royale Pagaille and Corach Rambler, so it will be all about the course conditions on Saturday afternoon. Bravemansgame should have won the Charlie Hall at Wetherby but for stretching to reach the last, so can make amends here if getting the better ground


Nirvana Spa 1965 Chase (Grade 2) 1.30
Shiskin (nap)
It’s very hard to get away from the appeal of Nicky Henderson’s Shiskin for his first race of this season. After pulling up carrying an injury in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2022, when sent off an odds-on favourite, Shiskin returned to show his brilliance stepped up in trip to land the Aintree Bowl last season. Paul Nicholls is sending out winners for fun so far this term, so Pic D’orhy rates the main threat, but Shiskin can be even better over this distance, so has to be the one to follow

Coral Hurdle (Grade 2) 2.05
Gary Moore has limited options for his enigmatic charge Goshen, with such a liking for right-handed tracks. He has his chance here, and last year’s winner can score again in this Grade 2 contest. Despite the small field, it’s a cracking race where a case can be made for all, not least the fine old servant Sceau Royal, while Nicky Henderson’s Theatre Glory is less exposed and gets a handy mares’ allowance. Goshen gets the nudge on as track to suit, with Theatre Glory to make a race of it

The Mandarin

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