Riders is ready to Storm Ascot
Christmas is almost upon us but it's not quite the calm before the storm as Ascot hosts Grade One action in the form of the Marsh Hurdle, where Paisley Park is an unbackable price.
The rest of the card is competitive, though, and RIDERS ONTHE STORM (1.15 Ascot) is confidently selected to do the business in the Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase.
This lad was entered (and was favourite) for the big handicap chase at Cheltenham last week before an administrative error meant he didn't run.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies immediately earmarked today's contest for him and he looks the one to beat for the €36,000 pot.
Formerly with Tom Taaffe, he was a decent novice chaser last season and showed his class when beating Cepage and Old Grangewood at Aintree on his reappearance.
Cepage was an excellent, close-up fourth in the aforementioned Cheltenham race and Old Grangewood has since beaten Kalashnikov, so the form is strong and, looking well-handicapped, Riders Onthe Storm looks the one to beat here.
One of the very best form judges around has been keen all week on the chances of GOT AWAY (1.50 Ascot) and it's hard not to be swayed by the argument.
This mare split Mister Whittaker and Highway One O One in a Grade Two handicap at Cheltenham in April, when constantly jumping right off a mark of 137.
Two pounds lower now and going the other way around with soft ground in her favour, the six-year-old can regain the winning thread.
At Haydock, VINTAGE CLOUDS (2.40 Haydock) is chosen to bounce back from his Becher disappointment last time.
He didn't like the Grand National fences then, but back in a conventional chase this course-and-distance winner can run well.
Finally, EARLY MORNING RAIN (1.00 Haydock) absolutely bolted up at Lingfield last time and can add this Listed contest to her CV. She should have enough to see off Deja Vue again.
1.15 riders onthe storm
1.50 got away (ew)
1.00 early morning rain
2.40 vintage clouds