Saturday’s racing tips – Ante-post tips for three televised handicaps from Haydock and Ascot

Jon Vine takes a look through the betting for three of Saturday’s big races and provides readers with three ante-post tips at Haydock and Ascot on Saturday 21st December.

Saturday marks the start of the fantastic Festive period of racing, with excellent races coming to us live from Ascot and Haydock. The Marsh Hurdle may be the Grade One feature, but with Paisley Park carrying an incredibly short price into battle, punters will be drooling over the handicaps that surround Saturday’s main event.

I usually focus on just one of Saturday’s handicaps with my feature ante-post previews. This week, however, I’m going to take out three birds with one stone and cover a trio of excellent handicaps in one fell swoop!

Here are three horses running in big televised handicaps that I’ve already backed to claim the bragging rights on Saturday.

Saturday’s ITV Racing Tips

Four of the last seven winners of this gruelling handicap carried 11-7 or more on their back, with two previous champions lugging top-weight to victory. While this stat would favour Yalltari at the top of the market, and Venetia Williams’ charge is clearly the class-act in the field, I never like to back horse who’s having their first outing of the season in a staying handicap like this – especially on heavy ground.

Despite being a novice with just three runs over fences under his belt, The Hollow Ginge seems to have plenty going for him. On this occasion though, I’m going to go back in on an old favourite of mine, VINTAGE CLOUDS (9/1 William Hill).

I backed Vintage Clouds in last year’s Grand National and the recent Becher Chase at Aintree, gaining little return on my investment on both occasions. Sue Smith’s charge fell at the very first obstacle on his National debut in April and seemed to hate every second of his second trip to Aintree earlier this month, pulling up after just seven obstacles after a dreadful sequence of leaps.

To see Vintage Clouds appear so quickly after that Becher debacle is encouraging and suggests there were no underlying medical reasons behind that inept display. Smith’s nine-year-old carried 11-11 to victory over future Scottish Grand National winner, Takingrisks in a handicap over course-and-distance on Betfair Chase day 12 months ago and Vintage Clouds has proven himself on bottomless ground in the past.

I’m hoping Vintage Clouds hasn’t become somewhat of a cliff horse for me, but I remain confident he’s very well treated running off 145 and 9/1 is too tempting for me to turn down.

Vintage Clouds (left) has some making up to do after a shocking run in the Becher.

Belami Des Pictons ran a cracker, after being hampered early on, to place fourth in the BetVictor Gold Cup and Venetia Williams’ eight-year-old looks well-suited to the step up in trip. Give Me A Copper is respected on the back of his thrilling Badger Beers Trophy victory at Wincanton, and Mister Malarky would be a big danger running off 148, should he feature in the final field.

Black Corton has already been jocked up and will shoulder the burden of top-weight in another competitive staying handicap. His presence allows the classy KILDISART (7/1 BetFred) to enter the fray with just 11-6 on his back and I’m confident Ben Pauling’s seven-year-old will prove himself to be a cut above handicap company.

I was sure Kildisart would make a better chaser than a hurdler as he entered his novice campaign last term and Ben Pauling’s charge didn’t let me down. A smart victory on Cheltenham Trial’s Day was followed by a fine staying-on fourth in a high-quality JLT. Kildisart rounded off his season with an excellent victory over Mister Malarky in the Grade Three Betway Handicap at Aintree’s Grand National Festival, where he powered home over 25-furlongs to win by five lengths.

Pauling then dropped his charge down in trip to lock horns with Lostintranslation again, as the pair made their returns in the Graduation Chase at Carlisle. Kildisart was no match for the Gold Cup favourite that day and looked a little rusty as he laboured over the line an eleven-length third. Kildisart should come on from that run though, stepping back up to three miles will definitely suit and Pauling’s charge won here at Ascot during his time over hurdles.

With Daryl Jacob out injured, Nico De Boinville has already been confirmed in the saddle. Nico has won the previous two renewals of this handicap and carried the two-tone green silks of Munir & Suoede into the winners’ enclosure on Valtor 12 months ago. At 7/1, Kildisart is looking like my best bet of the day!

Kildisart (near) powers to victory over Mister Malarky at Aintree last season.

Handicap hurdles over the minimum distance are notoriously unpredictable, unless there’s clearly a Grade One or Two horse masquerading in handicap company. That isn’t the case with Saturday’s renewal of this two-miler, so trying to pluck out a definite winner from the 18-strong field is an extremely difficult task.

Instead, I try to highlight the horse that I feel offers the most value at their current price. Whoshotthesherrif certainly comes into the equation, as does Turnpike Trip, and you must watch the betting closely if Charles Byrne’s charge is confirmed, as he’s bound to run a big race if there’s a huge swap of support in the build-up.

While both would be worth backing on the day of the race, the one I’m going to side with ante-post is last year’s winner, MOHAAYED (25/1 Coral), who can currently be found at a fantastic each-way price.

Dan Skelton’s charge is a firm favourite of mine, having scored a surprise victory in the 2018 County Hurdle after I’d tipped, and backed him at 33/1. On the back of convincing defeats in both the Welsh Champion Hurdle and the Greatwood at Cheltenham, Mohaayed bolted up in this handicap 12 months ago, beating Lisp, Western Ryder and Grand Sancy by almost three lengths.

After being beaten heavily in the same two prep-race he ran in last season, Skelton’s seven-year-old enters this handicap on the same mark of 145 he won so well with last year. Mohaayed may have to carry top-weight on Saturday, but that will only be two pounds more than the 11-10 he shouldered 12 months ago and this year’s renewal looks much weaker than the last.

There’s clearly been a plot to get Mohaayed back to Ascot to defend his crown in he best condition possible, and I’m going to take a huge chunk out of the returning champion’s current 25/1 price.