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Saturday Preview – 17/03/2018
The Cheltenham Festival this week always looked set to deliver, despite concerns about the ground situation and small field sizes on the Tuesday, but by no means did the home of National Hunt racing disappoint. Cheltenham can only last four days, and now we are back to normal working order with racing from Kempton and Uttoxeter being brought live to you by ITV4, the highlights being the Midlands National and the Silver Trophy.
1:50 Uttoxeter – Betfred St Patrick’s Day Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
This looks like a weak race on paper, and it is by no means going to produce the next Mares’ Hurdle winner, but on paper this still looks an open race. The obvious choice would be MOZO who was well beaten last time out over this course and distance by a horse who has ran admirably the last twice since. It looks as if she will be going off the short priced favourite after the latest performance, but another horse that could run well is Tara Well who has won recently at Leicester (albeit not in the strongest of races) but tries a tongue tie for the first time today which could bring around further improvement and she could run well here.
2:05 Kempton – Matchbook VIP Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap)
On paper, this seems like an open race despite there being only five runners and should provide an exciting race. COPAIN DE CLASSE has made a good start to chasing after finishing third behind Benetar who ran a fantastic race at Cheltenham this week and came back from a short break to win at Fontwell after his sole rival fell at the second fence. Deauville Dancer might be too high up in the handicap after winning three times in the Autumn, so the other one to look out for could be Vocaliser who has been placed in all of his races this season and looks likely to be able to continue that run of good form here.
2:25 Uttoxeter – Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Novices’ Handicap Chase
This looks like a strong contest for novices’, and the field is headed by Big River who beat Shantou Flyer (who finished second at Cheltenham this week) at Kelso last time out and looks set to come on from that, but it also burdens him with top weight so if he is to win this his class will have to show through. ANOTHER VENTURE has been running well this season, winning two on the bounce at Chepstow and Hereford, before finishing third behind Regal Encore and Minella Daddy where he finished in front of Vieux Lion Rouge. He looks capable of bouncing back here but by no means will this be an easy task.
2:40 Kempton – Matchbook Racing Is Commission Free Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle
Eleven horses look set to line up in this strong renewal of this race and this looks like a very open contest. KILDISART has seen a good run of form of late and ran a good race last time out. For an in-form team, he could very easily be in the mix here. The other runner that catches the eye is Django Django who has a low enough mark and a talented amateur to ride him – after winning a strong race two starts ago he can improve again to have a good each way shout here.
3:00 Uttoxeter – Betfred “Treble Odds On Lucky15’s” Handicap Hurdle
The ground at Uttoxeter will be heavy, with snow showers expected, and therefore in this race CLYNE should be kept on your side as despite being top weight he has very good form on soft and heavy ground behind the likes of The New One. The other standout is Fleminport who is an improving five year old and has won two on the bounce in novice company and is capable of improving further on his handicap debut.
3:15 Kempton – Matchbook Silver Bowl Handicap Chase
Favorito Buck’s won over course and distance last time out and could come on from that run again and Kilcrea Vale has been running well this season without quite hitting the mark, the same goes for Brandon Hill who is capable of running a big race for the places. COBRA DE MAI beat the talented Drumlee Sunset last time out and looks capable of improving from that again and still has a nice enough weight to carry – he could provide further big race success for Bridget Andrews and Dan Skelton after their triumph with Mohaayed at Cheltenham in the County Hurdle.
3:35 Uttoxeter – Betfred Midlands Grand National (An Open Handicap Chase) (Listed Race)
This is always a difficult race to call but this year the bottom weight, The Artful Cobbler, could be in with a good chance as he comes here after landing a hat trick at Lingfield last time out and looks certain to improve further and should handle the step up in trip. There are a number of horses at the top of the weights who also look in with a good chance including Hainan and Get On The Yager, but I think that Silsol is capable of running a big race for Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost after staying on in the Welsh Grand National two starts ago.
Last week saw much of the featured racing cancelled due to the weather – but Lingfield managed to keep the show on the road to make sure we weren’t left without any racing action on a Saturday when many were left indoors with not much else to do. Fortunately, the country seems to have warmed up just in time for Cheltenham next week. Traditionally, the Saturday before Cheltenham shows the running of the Imperial Cup at Sandown and it is this race that takes centre stage among the six races to be shown on ITV4 this Saturday as well as the Lincoln Trial for flat racing fans from Wolverhampton.
1:50 Sandown – European Breeders’ Fund Matchbook VIP “National Hunt” Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (Grade 3)
The Dubai Way has won five races in a row and was very game at Warwick last time out and while this is another step up in class he has proven he is very talented thus far and look capable of more for in-form trainer Harry Whittington. Indian Hawk returned to winning ways when stepped down in trip at Warwick last time out after disappointing over three miles in a grade 2 at Doncaster in January and he is sure to be primed for this race today. The other one to point out would be MELROSE BOY for Harry Fry and Noel Fehily who won a novices’ hurdle by fifty lengths before running an admirable race in third behind Topofthegame over a longer trip last time out at this course and should be up to running a big race here over the shorter distance.
2:05 Wolverhampton – sunbets.co.uk Lincoln Trial Handicap
BIG COUNTRY is two from two on the all-weather and if he gets an easy lead could run away with this, even if it is his first run of the year. This is a shorter trip for him, but he travels strongly so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. There are two other horses of note in this field for me, one being Constantino who won well last week and loves the all-weather, and the other would be Dragon Mall who will have to bounce back from a disappointing run last time out but is talented on his day and could run well here.
2:25 Sandown – Matchbook Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
CALL ME LORD is two from two over this course and distance and won well here in January off top weight in heavy ground so looks an ideal candidate here even though he has a big weight to carry. His stablemate Whatswrongwithyou is a useful novice and has won two novice races at Newbury this term and always seems to do his best work later in the day so don’t be surprised if this big field handicap brings out the best in him. The other one to point out would be Friday Night Light who is in good form, and let’s not forget that his trainer has a good record in this race – he could be a good each way shout.
3:15 Wolverhampton – sunbets.co.uk Lady Wulfruna Stakes (Listed)
SECOND THOUGHT is unbeaten on the all-weather and a dual listed winner so should win this easily, although Masham Star who has won twice on the all-weather and has recently been gelded so may be in with an each way shout here in a race that looks pretty simple on paper.
3:35 Sandown – Matchbook Racing Is Commission Free Handicap Chase
A seven runner three mile handicap chase closes the show on ITV4 featuring the ever-popular Pete The Feat who loves this track and even though he is now a fourteen year old, if he performs with his usual exuberance and bounces back from a disappointing run at Exeter last time out in testing conditions then he should be in with a good shout in this. TANIT RIVER won well last time out at this course when he beat the smart Aubusson by three lengths and he looks like he could perform well again here. The top weight is the Lucy Wadham trained Shanroe Santos who registered a very impressive win at Carlisle last time out and is in good form, if he can continue with this good run of form of late then he is another who is in with a chance.
The EBF Stallions/TBA Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race is also brought to you from Sandown, and this year’s renewal looks like a very open race that any of these could win. Either way, tomorrow should be the ideal warm up for next week’s Cheltenham Festival which I’m sure everyone is looking forward to. I trust you’ll all be joining us for the #HUR5Cheltenham competition that will be being run on all four days of the Festival as well, and it’s absolutely free!
Saturday Preview – 24/02/2018
Last Saturday gave us one of the races of the season so far at Ascot in the Betfair Ascot Chase which saw an earth-shaking tussle between fan-favourite Cue Card and the improving Waiting Patiently whose potential before then was untapped. Frodon and Top Notch struggled to get to the front two as they cleared away from the field before
Waiting Patiently found more to go past the gallant Cue Card and win for Brian Hughes and Ruth Jefferson, who had only taken over the training license from her late father, Malcolm, a week previously.
Not many trainers can boast a grade 1 winner after just one week. Malcolm, who had always retained faith in Waiting Patiently, was surely willing him on last week.
This week, the spotlight falls on Kempton Park where a number of novice races and the Betdaq Handicap Chase take centre stage as part of a stellar schedule on ITV4, and here you’ll get the lowdown on each of the races set to grace our television screens tomorrow afternoon.
1:50 Kempton - Betdaq Now 2% Commission Pendil Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)
A four runner novices’ chase makes a start to the day, and three of these haven’t run for over 100 days. The Paul Nicholls’ trained CYRNAME looks the obvious choice after a very good effort behind Terrefort in the grade 1 Scilly Isles’ last time out at Sandown, for which he receives a 5lb penalty today. On official ratings he is 8lbs superior to The Unit who looks to be his main challenger after finishing third behind the exciting Willoughby Court at Huntingdon last time out over this distance so he shouldn’t be discounted. The other two are Petrou and For Good Measure, both of whom look to take advantage of the small field and the possibility of the market leaders making jumping errors. Petrou has won once over fences and finished second the other two times but faces a big jump up in class and For Good Measure has not won since December 2015 and finished fourth on his debut over fences behind Robinshill.
2:05 Lingfield - Betway Hever Sprint Stakes (Listed Race)
Royal Birth won this last year and has been unlucky not to get a win on the board since then so is capable of going close, but the verdict goes for the popular BOOM THE GROOM who was a close fourth in last year’s renewal and has been getting back to that level in the early part of this year. Gracious John is likely to be sent off the favourite due to his two brilliant wins in December but will have to come back from two disappointing runs in the New Year if he is to win this. The other horse worth a mention here is Karijini who has a good each way shout after a win at Kempton 3 days ago, but he is dropped down in trip here and that will have to suit him in what is set to be a very strongly run race.
2:25 Kempton – Betdaq #ChangingForTheBettor Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2)
The Adonis Juvenile Hurdle has thrown up a few good winners over the year - Well Chief, Punjabi, Binocular and Zarkandar – and this year the Alan King trained REDICEAN looks to add his name to that illustrious list and extend his unbeaten record over hurdles which has seen him register two impressive wins over this course and distance so far. Beau Gosse and Malaya look to be his main challengers here, but if the pace set is a strong one then Redicean should be very hard to beat, especially at this track.
2:45 Newcastle – Betfred Eider Handicap Chase
This is always a tough race to determine the winner of and this renewal looks a strong one set to be run on heavy ground, which many of these have strong form on. The top weight is Chase The Spud who has seen a 10lb rise in the handicap since his win at Haydock earlier in the season but he is proven over marathon distances and loves heavy ground. However, HAINAN won well on heavy ground at Haydock over 3 ½ miles on heavy going and looked as if he would be suited by further when rallying last time out – this contest could be ideal for him. Vinnie Lewis is looking for a hat trick here and is another with proven form on soft ground after winning over 3 ½ miles at Plumpton last time out, this is a step up in class but he is going in the right direction for this novice.
3:00 Kempton – Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
Mont Des Avaloirs ran a good race last time out in the Tolworth behind Summerville Boy and brings some quality hurdles form to this race against some exciting newcomers making the transfer to the jumps from the flat. The talking horse of this race is Humphrey Bogart who won the Lingfield Derby Trial as a three year old for Richard Hannon before being transferred to Nicky Henderson’s, he will be sure to make a good account on hurdles debut tomorrow, but SCARLET DRAGON had a brilliant career on the level and has the potential to be a common sight in the big races in years to come. Another horse who deserves a shout out in this race is Ian Williams’ Michael’s Mount who won comfortably at Doncaster recently and looks sure to come on for that run.
3:15 Lingfield – Betway Winter Derby Stakes (Group 3)
CLEAR SKIES looks the obvious winner here based on her dramatic change of form after making the switch to the all-weather, she has registered 5 wins at Dundalk, the latest of which was very impressive. There looks to be a lot of each way value in this race including last year’s winner Convey who is unbeaten on the all-weather and could run a big race here and Utmost who ran away with the trial for this race earlier this month – if he is allowed a clear lead he could be a danger to the favourite. Gabrial looks to be a decent each way shout at a bigger price as the ever-consistent veteran is back for more and has been capable of racing against the very best in the past. If he can roll back the years he is in with a good shout here.
3:35 – Betdaq Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Acting Lass is looking for a fourth win in a row in his toughest assignment yet, but he won well at Ascot last time out despite jumping left in the early part of the race – if he does that again today against hotter competition he might find himself in danger. Last year’s winner Theatre Guide and the talented Josses Hill also line up and are in with a shout, not to mention Art Mauresque who was behind last week’s Ascot Chase hero Waiting Patiently last time out. If TINTERN THEATRE can clean up his jumping then he will be thereabouts at the finish and is proven over this distance. A good each way shout at a bigger price would be the veteran Loose Chips who has a good record at this track and has been running well this season.
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