First Flow is strongly fancied by trainer Kim Bailey to become the definitive ‘party pooper’ and deny Ascot racegoers an anticipated ‘match of the season’ outcome when Shishkin and much-vaunted Irish raider Energenume clash in a four-runner grade Clarence House Chase on a ‘soft’ surface over two miles of the famous Berkshire circuit this afternoon; do you know I’d almost forgotten there were two other entries, such has been the hype from Nicky Henderson’s Lambourn yard about its latest stable star which, like Willie Mullins’ representative, is unbeaten over steeplechases.
Time to consult my time-handicap and it was most revealing!
Yes Shishkin is somewhat superior to First Flow, winner of this race twelve months ago, on what happened last season but his recent much-chronicled winning effort at Kempton was nothing like good enough to triumph on this occasion and, he’s experienced a deal of troubling niggles which Henderson, to his credit, has revealed to the adoring ‘Kin’ fan club. Racing loves its superstars and many have been trained by Nicky; Altior, Sprinter Sacre immediately spring to mind.
Shishkin hasn’t proved himself in their league and, again like Energumene, has undergone a wind operation!
Bailey must never be underestimated; like myself, in the distant past, he never wastes a race and last month David Bass-ridden First Flow achieved a very useful time-figure when scoring effortlessly around another right-handed venue with stiff fences, Huntingdon.
This promises to be an absolute belter, the tension on another ‘Super-Saturday’ will be terrific, especially in this household, if it’s going with the ‘Flow!’
a seven-race card opens with a Juvenile Hurdle over two miles which 123-rated Twilight Twist, one of two Alan King representatives, shouldn’t be hard-pressed to land apart from one obvious glaring statistical factor!
King, a ‘specialist’ with juvenile hurdlers, is out of form, a bit like this column!
Alan hasn’t had a winner for ‘yonks’ but he’s another who must be highly respected and if indeed you bet in this opener don’t stick, just ‘Twist!
A fascinating schedule concludes with the obligatory Wolverhampton ‘Saturday-nighter’ on which Zameta rates a trixie/patent ‘anchor’ in the Novice Stakes over seven furlongs under rapidly-aspiring Rossa Ryan; if this Roger Varian-trained No Nay Never fails make it third time lucky I’ll follow a local flock of sheep…!
Selections, Ascot, 12.35 Twilight Twist; 3.35 First Flow; Wolverhampton, 5.00 Zameka.
Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019