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Apart to play at Ascot

Apart to play at Ascot

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Saturday marks the final day of racing before Christmas, with three full days to follow without any action before the feast of full-on festive sport is upon us!

Agrapart – 2.25 Ascot @ 13/2

The Long Walk Hurdle is the feature event on a cracking Ascot card on Saturday and Agrapart is fancied to run well for trainer Nick Williams. He won the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January and will relish the testing ground and trip on offer here.

Agrapart was an acceptable fourth behind Wholestone at Aintree last month on his return, with the race being over 2m4f and on good ground. This extra yardage is firmly in his favour and he’ll also appreciate the mud flying around him.

A field of 11 has been assembled and plenty of the leading protagonists have questions to answer. Last year’s winner Sam Spinner is seemingly not the force he once was and quickly started to back pedal on his reappearance at Newbury before he unseated Joe Culliver.

Unowhatimeanharry won that day but Harry Fry’s 10-year-old isn’t certain to repeat it in Grade One company. Perhaps the bigger danger lurks in Call Me Lord for champion trainer Nicky Henderson, but he is having his first run of the season and the youngster must prove himself in this sort of company, so Lizzie Kelly’s mount appeals as the value shout.

Gold Present – 3.00 Ascot @ 7/2

Last year’s winner Gold Present will bid to win the Listed Garrard Silver Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot from a 5lb higher mark now.

Henderson’s charge has achieved all three chase wins in the months of November and December, with this race last year part of a pre-Christmas double. He lost his way at the spring festivals and underwent a wind operation over the summer.

Last month’s reappearance at Ascot saw him chasing home Grade One winner Politologue over an inadequate 2m5f trip. He’ll be well suited by this test again and has strong claims under Nico De Boinville of winning for the second year running.

Aristo Du Plessis – 11.50 Haydock @ 5/1

The early birds will be out for the opener at Haydock where Aristo Du Plessis is fancied to confirm last month’s win over Cornerstone Lad at Wetherby.

He found more when it was needed, having been headed at the final flight, and showed a gutsy attitude to get back up and win. He remains 8lb below his peak rating despite his increase for that win and boasts a mighty 41 per-cent strike rate from 22 runs over hurdles.

Young jockey Bruce Lynn is in good form, with two wins from his last three rides, and this partnership can go well in the Merseyside opener.

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Enda McElhinney Our racing expert, Enda studies cards in both England and Ireland on a daily basis and knows all the details you need to know when trying to select a winner. He is also a regular football writer and has strong knowledge of the Scottish game, with golf another specialised sport on his CV.