Citizenship to strike for in-form Venetia Williams at Ascot
Venetia Williams has her stable in fine form and looks to have a great chance in the 2.25 at Ascot on Saturday, a race televised by Channel 4. She saddles Citizenship who can make light of an 8lbs rise in the handicap under Liam Treadwell.
The eight-year-old son of Beat Hollow was a very smart handicap hurdler in Ireland, winning a £50,000 handicap in 2012 before disappointing in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham. He lost his way after that but a change of scenery seems to have worked wonders.
After a pipe-opener at Newbury, Citizenship cruised to victory at Exeter under a confident ride from Aidan Coleman. He was a late withdrawal from last weekend’s Lanzarote Hurdle but that race may have stretched his stamina and this shorter trip looks more suitable.
The favourite is likely to be Skyfarmer who represents another in-form stable in that of Philip Hobbs. He beat subsequent winner Livius by four lengths at Cheltenham but that was on good ground and he faces a massive 17lbs hike in the weights.
The weights are headed by Nicky Henderson’s Minella Forfitness who is having his first run of the season. He won a valuable handicap at Aintree last season but may find this a tough task in the heavy ground.
Languishing at the foot of the handicap is Jonjo O’Neill’s Get Back In Line who unseated Tony McCoy at Newbury in the Challow Hurdle. The pace was just quickening when he departed and it was too early to say whether he might have had a say in the outcome.
Maurice Linehan takes off 5lbs and he could is the unknown quantity of the race with only a minor victory at Catterick under his belt. Thomas Crapper won twice earlier in the season but appeared to have his limitations exposed when only eighth behind Sunnyhillboy at Cheltenham.
Bourne and Kuilsriver are both course and distance winners who could also get involved off a low weight. Irish Saint is yet to recapture his juvenile form whilst Imperial Leader and Knight Of Pleasure need to improve to feature here.