Ascot: Hayley Moore’s five horses to follow on Friday

Sky Sports Racing presenter Hayley Moore has five horses to follow on the opening day of the Howden Christmas Racing Weekend at Ascot on Friday, live on Sky Sports Racing…..


The Howden Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle over 2m 5.5f opens the Christmas Racing Weekend at Ascot and MAGIC SEVEN is an unexposed five-year-old who steps into handicap company for the first time off a high enough mark of 124, but he has been an impressive winner on both his starts over hurdles.

Those hurdles wins, plus his bumper victory, have come at Hereford so going right-handed is ideal for his first run at Ascot. My concern would be him stepping up in trip as he can be a little forward going and he has good pace, but he ran well to the line on his last outing. The good to soft ground should also be perfect for him.

I’m sure Roger Pol will stay judged on his bumper runs and from his performance at Fakenham where they do generally go hard in races. He steps into handicap company off what looks like a competitive mark as he tries an extra half mile for the first time. He’s a sure danger against the selection.

Cameron Iles is impressing me as a rider and looks value taking off 8lbs for his stable and we know Immortal Flame is a confirmed winner at this distance. He seems to be in good heart, but will need a career best before taking into account Cameron’s claim.


The Howden Maiden Hurdle over 2m 5.5f is an interesting race with lots of big stables represented and I’m most excited about Paul Nicholls’ runner WELCOM TO CARTRIES. He was second to the more experienced Beat The Bat at Ascot last time when the market could not spilt the joint-favourites and that horse has since run well at Cheltenham when second in a novice carrying a penalty. Beat The Bat had an opening mark of 125 and that has since gone up to 132.

Image: Welcom To Cartries (left) locks horns with Beat The Bat at Ascot

Welcom To Cartries was lining up last month for the first time in 348 days and, after a wind operation back in July, I’m expecting him to step forward for the recent run and build on what we saw. He is very unexposed, as are most of the runners, but I’m expecting this former point-to-point winner to put in another polished round of jumping.

2.30 – BAD

Immortal was returning from a break when he ran here at Ascot at the beginning of November, and he was a little bit keen early before coming under pressure, but he kept finding and then ran on for third. I’m expecting more from him on his second start back and with conditions to suit in the WB Wealth Handicap Hurdle over 1m 7.5f.

My selection would have to be BAD, however. He has returned this season with a couple of decent efforts after coming over from France in March when he ran in two nice races in the spring but he was not as competitive as we have seen this term. I reckon he has settled into the new routine with a bit more time and a decent break. His form behind Hansard at Newbury in the Gerry Feilden looks solid too.

Poncho has had a couple of nasty falls but has a chance in this class of race, and might be the horse for Niall Houlihan to ride out his 3lb claim.

3.05 – DJELO

It looks like they have saved the best couple of races until last, starting with the Grade Two Howden Noel Novices’ Chase with a small but competitive field. You can put them all into the mix but I’m most looking forward to seeing DJELO. He seems to be a better horse over fences although he had a decent enough hurdles career.

Djelo in winning action at Newbury under Charlie Deutsch
Image: Djelo in winning action at Newbury under Charlie Deutsch

Might I is stepping up in grade too and he has got plenty of ability, so off level weights with Djelo he is an obvious danger and is a pound higher on official ratings. Unexpected Party tried to make it all in the Grade One Henry VIII Novices’ Chase but weakened out of it and drops in grade today. I’d be concerned about the quick back-up off a poor run and having to carry a penalty against this opposition.


The Listed Thames Materials Open NH Flat Race is the finale at Ascot on Friday and is always a great race to look forward to. There are lots of winners in the line-up and in recent years Paul Nicholls has done well in the race, having won the last two renewals. Warren Greatrex took it in 2016 and Nick Gifford in 2017.

Although he has a penalty to carry, I think BRECHIN CASTLE looks to be talented, and it was at this level he won at Cheltenham. He looks a big, strong type capable of carrying a penalty and I liked his battling attitude. He jumped off just behind the leaders and looked relaxed and uncomplicated. He has been spoken about possibly targeting all the big festivals and champion bumpers after the Ascot assignment, all being well, so he’s clearly held in high regard.

Watch all the action from the Christmas Racing Weekend at Ascot on Friday and Saturday live on Sky Sports Racing.

Source : Sky Sports