Ascot preview: Progressive Pym the Reynoldstown punt

14th September 2021

2020 Reynoldstown Novices' Chase preview from Ascot including Pym (right)

Trainer Nicky Henderson is in red-hot form at present, so Pym looks to hold leading claims of providing him with another winner in the 3m Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday (13:50).

This seven-year-old was a smart hurdler who has quickly made up into an even better chaser in winning two of his three starts.

After shaping with promise on debut over the larger obstacles at Huntingdon back in November, Pym duly showed the benefit of that experience when staying on strongly to beat Highest Sun by three lengths over this course and distance.

The runner-up went on to score next time up, whilst the fourth home Deise Aba is unbeaten in two subsequent outings. That gives the form a solid look.

Pym has since followed-up in fine style at Cheltenham when making all and jumping well to slam Imperial Aura by eight lengths.

Leading form claims for Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase

As the runner-up has since run a blinder to finish second in a valuable novice handicap chase on Festival Trials Day to be rated 143, it again looks extremely strong form.

It has earned Pym an official rating of 152. That is the same as main market rival Sam Brown, yet he receives a handy 2lb from Anthony Honeyball’s charge.

It makes the son of Stowaway, who carries the colours of owner Patricia Pugh made famous by the mighty Altior, very much the one to beat.

Pym’s course form is another plus, as is the fact that he is versatile as regards ground. He also appeals as the type to go on progressing.

So, with Henderson also operating at a 32 per cent strike rate in the last 14 days at the time of writing, Pym looks well worth a wager at 5/2 with William Hill to land the hat-trick.

Sporting John taken to enhance Cheltenham Festival claims in opener

Only four are set to go to post in the 2m 3f novices’ hurdle (13:15) before the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase.

It features a fascinating clash between two hugely exciting prospects in the shape of Master Debonair and Sporting John. The latter is taken to come out on top.

After winning his sole start in an Irish point, this five-year-old was purchased for a hefty sum by leading owner JP McManus and sent to join Seven Barrows handler Nicly Henderson.

He was highly-touted ahead of his debut under Rules in a 13-runner Exeter novice hurdle and looked something special in beating Harry Senior by 1 3/4 lengths.

After travelling strongly on the heels of the leaders, the son of Getaway was produced to challenge at the last by Barry Geraghty – who is once again in the saddle – and then asserted on the run-in to score readily.

Sporting John was well on top at the finish and value for much more than the winning margin.

The runner-up has won twice since, including a Grade 2 last time at Cheltenham impressively, to be rated 144.

As the third, fourth and fifth have also all come out and won since, that gives the form an extremely strong look.

Sporting John has since followed up with a facile eight-length success, again at Exeter, to be officially rated 146.

That’s just 5lb lower than main market rival Master Debonair, and he is far less exposed than Colin Tizzard’s charge.

So, with further improvement assured, Sporting John is thus taken at 5/4 with Betfair to complete the hat-trick and further enhance his Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle credentials at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

The Con Man looks just the trick in handicap hurdle

The Con Man is progressive and unexposed sort who looks ahead of his mark, so at 5/1 with BetVictor, makes plenty of appeal in the extended 2m 3f handicap hurdle (15:00).

After winning his sole start in an Irish point, this seven-year-old impressed on debut for Donald McCain.

He easily landed a 10-runner novice hurdle at Carlisle by five lengths from Garrettstown, who went to finish runner-up to subsequent Greatwood Hurdle winner Harambe at Market Rasen off an official rating of 130.

The Con Man was then on the sidelines for 367 days, before finishing a highly promising five-length second of seven to Marie’s Rock at Haydock.

Marie’s Rock is an exciting sort who has since landed a Listed contest to be rated 144, whilst the third and fourth home – Ebony Jewel and Stimulating Song – have also both won since.

The Con Man backed that up with a solid three length second of 11 to Flick on handicap debut at the same venue, where he travelled strongly throughout and went clear two from home before being headed on the run-in and being unable to find any extra.

The son of Oscar then got back to winning ways at Kelso last month when scoring easily by 6 1/2 lengths from McGowan’s Pass off a mark of 128.

After being, The Con Man cruised into contention before taking up the running approaching the omitted final flight and forging forged clear under a hands and heels ride.

He was value for more than the winning margin, so a 7lb rise in the weights could well be on the lenient side.

It may not be enough to stop The Con Man, who has proven form on testing ground, going in again.

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