ROLL UP FOR BIG BETDAQ VALUE: 30.0, 17.5, 15.0, 14.5, 12.0: It’s a super double-header of big-handicap meetings on the Flat at Ascot and over the sticks at Haydock, and Daqman delves deep for some huge offers on BETDAQ this morning.

2.00 Haydock: The gallant Cross Kennon, who loves the mud and loves Haydock, was runner-up on the course in a Grade-2 in February before running his heart out at Cheltenham on a sound surface: 14.5 on BETDAQ is attractive.

Pateese, 6-1 forecast, has drifted like a lonely dog on a raft, and is out to 16.0, as I write; that’s beyond the betting weir for me to have any belief in the chances of one that should be at the forefront of the market.

The Tracey Shuffle is unexposed and Team Pipe has won this several times but he is turned out quickly after Punchestown, and was beaten at odds on by Nagpur (17.5 on the Daq), a winner on heavy, who has raced as though today’s trip in the mud is ideal.

2.50 Ascot: I remember when we had to take Richard Hannon to Moss Bros to buy a new suit, he was so sure he’d win the 2,000 Guineas, and he did.
I haven’t spoken to the man in years but, when I do, I’ll ask him if he’s got a ‘whistle’ decent enough to accept the knighthood in.

The Queen’s Free Verse (7.2 on BETDAQ), given a big chance by the handicapper here, could help that cause in more ways than one.

3.25 Ascot (Victoria Cup): Horses over the age of five win this once in a blue moon (strike-rate 1-75); same with those off 9st 2lb and more. All 10 winners in the last decade had raced already in their season, and 9 out of 10 were class-2 performers or better.

A double-figure draw had been ideal as horses have bunched in the middle of the track but last year stalls 7, 3, 4, 1, 9, 10, 6 and 5 finished in that order in eight of the first 10 places.

It’s impossible to know where the advantage will be today but the only class-2 winners of the right age are Pastoral Player, Bonnie Brae, Lightning Cloud, Kakatosi and White Frost, to which I would add Excellent Guest.

Bonnie Brae improved 26lb last year and loves today’s surface (2-2 on soft); entered at Group level and seems sure to acquire some black type, so today is an intriguing venture with Ryan Moore booked.

Trainer David Elsworth hasn’t had a winner this year but the mare was in training for the Lincoln so should be ready now; entries suggest that, if she is, then she’s that standout, ‘a Group horse in a handicap’.

Lightning Cloud is another whose rating rose 26lb in 2011, culminating in a class-2 win at Doncaster. Pastoral Player won first time up last year and was third in the Wokingham on soft but may just have a bit too much weight. Kakatosi seems to have lost his way (last win August 2010).

White Frost landed a hat-trick in his first three races last season but has yet to win at this level and was behind Lightning Cloud at Doncaster in September.

I added Excellent Guest to the short-list, since his form on the soft at Ascot is, indeed, excellent; including a cracking second – beaten only a length – in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at the royal meeting.

Excellent Guest, who won first time last season, is 15.0 on BETDAQ; Bonnie Brae is solid at 12.0. That gives me one on each side, drawn 1 and 22.

3.40 Haydock (Swinton Hurdle): Front-runner Double Ross has kept the best company: third to Fingal Bay in the Challow, second to subsequent Supreme Novices winner, Cinders And Ashes, on heavy over today’s course and distance; behind Zarkandar at Newbury and Simonsig in the Neptune.

He fits the stats, as aged five to seven and set a weight below 11st 5lb. He’s clear top-rated by the Racing Post, dropped back in trip and a lover of deep ground, so the 30.0 I pinched this morning must be totally wrong.

Winners on soft-heavy are All The Aces, Charm School, Dream Esteem, Lifestyle, Petit Robin, Red Merlin, Ruler For All, Saphir River, Secret Edge, Tonic Melysse, Ubi Ace.

The pick of these has to be All The Aces (12.0 on BETDAQ), another improving novice from the Henderson yard, which is going for a hat-trick in this race, and Red Merlin (7.8) for the in-form McCain.

McCain says he’s aimed the horse at this race for some time; at this stage, when most have had long, hard campaigns, that’s worth a lot.

WIN-30 JACKPOT: BET 2.2pts win CROSS KENNON and 1.8pts win NAGPUR (2.00 Haydock)
BET: 3.2pts win (nap) FREE VERSE (2.50 Ascot)
WIN-30 JACKPOT: BET 2.7pts win BONNIE BRAE and 2.1pts win EXCELLENT GUEST (3.25 Ascot)
WIN-30 JACKPOT: BET 4.4pts win RED MERLIN, 2.7pts win ALL THE ACES and 1pt win and place DOUBLE ROSS (3.40 Haydock)

* Daqman’s selections are backed to win 20 points (unless otherwise stated) so, if you divide 20 by his stake, you know the Betdaq offer taken at the time of writing. ‘Savers’ are backed to cover the stake(s) on the main selection.

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