Elliott Bayan for victory in the Ladbroke
3.30 ASCOT: THE LADBROKE (A Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3)
Gordon Elliott took the 2012 renewal of this high quality handicap with the talented Cause Of Causes and the Irish trainer will be hoping for more success today in the form of the ultra consistent Bayan. You have to go back along way to find a race in which the 5yo didn’t run his heart out and that attitude will stand him in good stead in this season’s extremely competitive renewal.
Third in last season’s Coral Cup, Bayan also put in a fantastic effort when a close second in the Galway Hurdle and that form surely gives him a huge chance in here. He warmed up for this with another cracking effort on the level at Leopardstown and today’s conditions look absolutely ideal. Hopefully he can give Davy Condon his first big time success since returning from injury.
You could nearly include all the field as possible dangers but the money that has come for the likes of current favourite Activial, who makes his handicap debut, and the returning Balgarry make that pair particularly interesting. 4yo’s don’t have a great record in this race which may rule out Acivial, while Balgarry must overcome a near three year absence from the track.
Willie Mullins’ Clondaw Warrior should improve for his run behind Garde La Victoire in the Greatwood and if he can put in a better round of jumping he is a big danger. The latter should also be in the mix but it will not be easy to give weight away to all in such a tight contest.
Dan Skelton enjoyed his first big race success in this last year and he will fancy his chances of retaining the title with the exciting Shelford. He bettered Aubusson at Chepstow at Chepstow last time, so it will be very interesting to see how that one gets on earlier on the card in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle.
Gassin Golf, Pyromaniac and Goodwood Mirage could be bigger priced players to have a look at.
Kevin Walsh 21/12/14
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