£1275 to 1pt profit on all Saturday tips!
Latest Horse Racing Tips
On all known form Wonderful Charm should be favourite for the JLT so he's a must back at 11/2. The concern is
that Paul Nicholls is yet to saddle a Cheltenham winner this week but his strongest chances come over the next few days and
hopefully he can get the day off to a good start. He showed he handled the track last time out when giving 8lb to Oscar Whisky
who has gone on to frank that form, albeit in modest style. Nicholls says he is best fresh and he clearlyy handles decent
ground. Felix Yonger is a big threat in these conditions but, equally, he has stamina to prove and I'd have been keener on
him in the Arkle. That said, the Irish 2 mile form is a fair bit stronger than the 3 mile and Mullins/Walsh are in superb
form. I expect Taquin Du Seuil to be better over fences than he was over hurdles and he could be the main danger at a slightly
1pt e/w - U/P @ 5/1
Philip Hobbs has a very strong hand in the Pertemps and all 3 of his runners are on my shortlist. Fingal Bay is the best in the race on form of old and is definitely still well treated. If In Doubt was beaten by the aforementioned and Saphir Du Rheu on his last 2 starts so we know he is a threat. However, they are both 7/1 and the last 10 winners of this have all been in double figures. Hobbs' 3rd string is a very progressive 2nd season hurdler who looks better the further he goes. Uncle Jimmy was 4th on good ground over 2 miles 5 here and that form has been franked by Whisper amongst others. He then showed he stays last time when scoring over 3 miles 1 at Wetherby. Ive been mpressed by claimer Thomas Cheesman all year and he has a shout today at 22/1. If he has a chance then so too must Crowning Jewel at 25/1. The Reveley's are flying at the moment and their 8 year old has won his last 2 starts on good ground. He gave Uncle Jimmy 6lb at Aintree in Ocotber over 2 and a half miles and won well. In reciept of 2lb this afternoon from the first selection, he shaped well after a break last month and I'm looking forward to seeing him at this trip now he has his ground.
Crowning Jewel 1pt e/w - U/P @ 20/1
Uncle Jimmy 1pt e/w - U/P @ 20/1
Al Ferof is a horse I'm happy to have onside for the Ryanair and is the pick of those at the top of the market. There is possibly a bit of value to be had at bigger prices though and Menorah and Merdemit wouldn't be shock winners given what they've shown in the past. A previous festival winner is worth noting on return and both Rajdhani Express and Hunt Ball are former novice handicap chase winners (last race, day 1). Plenty of Henderson horses have looked as though they needed it first time this year and the latter is a young improver that could shake things up a bit whilst the former made an encouraging return to action at Ascot. Of all of them though, Rathlin looks the best value at 20/1. Hidden Cyclone is 10/1 and Rathlin smashed him at Galway in July. He was 7th in the Supreme (Al Ferof's Supreme) 3 years ago and just loves quick ground. His Hidden Cyclone form would also put him ahead of Sam Waley-Cohen's mount on form lines from the Paddy Power and, with a bit of Mouse-magic, he can cause something of an upset.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 20/1
Al Ferof 1pt win 7/1 - U/P @ 5/1
More Of That 1pt win 7/1 - WON @ 15/2
Celestial Halo 1pt e/w 33/1 - U/P @ 20/1
The Byrne Group Plate is a minefield but, miraculously, I only have a shortlist of 3. The first is Bless The Wings who was pulled up in this last year and is yet to realise full potential over fences. He has dropped to a really handy mark though and Alan King's runners are going well here. It's the first time blinkers that really grab the attention as he needs some sort of spark but he likes it here and this drop back in trip should suit at 25/1. Just being swerved is Highway Code who looks well treated on the basis of his beating of Massena but I'm not convinced he'll get the trip and that's a concern in a race like this. I backed Nadiya De La Vega in the Paddy Power but she ran a stinker and tailed off. She was a little better next time but not enough to suggest she can win this. I thought she travelled with more purpose over 3 miles at Kempton though before making a race ending mistake and she too is in first time headgear today. Hopefully the visor will just liven her up a little because she's off a handy mark and I like her on decent ground. Andrew Tinkler goes well with her and she's a nice price at 20/1.
Nadiya De La Vega 1pt e/w 20/1 - U/P @ 20/1
Bless The Wings 1pt e/w 25/1 - U/P @ 20/1
Spring Heeled 1pt e/w 25/1 - WON @ 12/1
I said in the Cheltenham preview that it was tricky to look beyond the top 2 in the market. However, with the ground genuinely
good, you have to give a chance to Rathvinden and Ballyalton and perhaps even Cup Final who is by Presenting. Either way,
this could be a real speed test on quick ground and that would worry me a little for the Pipe horse. Faugheen could win by
20 lengths but he won last time on heavy ground over 3 miles so I wouldn't have him at 9/4. At the morning prices, I think
Ballyalton is the one to be on. He is to go chasing next season so I'm not sure connections are expecting to win this
but I can see him being a threat on quick ground. His form looked better before the turn of the year but he has course form
and the yard are a different proposition now than they were in January when winless form some 20 runners. He is rated 12lb
below the favourite but I think that's a touch lower than it should be given we can put a line through his last effort and
he's a nice price at 20/1.
1pt e/w - 2nd @ 20/1
Carlingford Lough 1pt e/w 14/1 - U/P @ 7/1
Le Bec 1pt e/w 16/1 - U/P @ 10/1
I'm tempted by Cotton Mill but don't like backing Ferguson horses and he's not much bigger than Far West who still looks off a handy mark. The ground is not certain to suit but he is untried on it so it's possible he'll be ok and Paul Nicholls is adamant this horse is crying out for a trip. He loves it here and gets the vote over Nicholls' other likeable runner, Sametegal, at 20/1. So many others have chances and I'm reluctant to look too near the top of the betting but Bayan14/1 could be generous. I'm not worried about a 'prep' run on the flat last time on soft ground and he'll be much more of a threat this afternoon for a trainer that knows how to win Cheltenham handicaps.
Bayan 1pt e/w - 3rd @ 11/1
Far West 1pt e/w - U/P @ 20/1
The Champion Chase looks all about taking on Sire De Grugy and I want to do so with Baily Green, Kid Cassidy and Captain Conan. The latter is the likeliest on pure ability but I do think he is a bit risky at 5/1 given he's had just 1 (poor) effort this term. Kid Cassidy should like the ground and he beat the favourite over course and distance in November in receipt of 10lb. Level weights will be harder and he comes here off the back of a disappointing effort in Ireland. Baily Green was one I fancied for the Ryanair but looking at the pace on show he has a sniff this afternoon. He does seem to need good ground amongst this company and he gets that today. A 2 and a half length 2nd in last year's Arkle, you have to ask what price would Simonsig be? If, like me, you think odds-on favourite then Baily Green is worth supporting at 10/1 in a weak renewal. He certainly stays further but the likes of Special Tiara, Arvika Ligeonniere and Module going forward, and that hill, should ensure a proper test at the trip and he looks a sound value play.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 14/1
The Fred Winter can be a mine field but it's normally a good idea to find something that has been involved in a Graded race or has winning form coming into this. Katgary could be anything but pick of those near the top of the market is Dawalan. However, I want to find some bigger prices and can't find better than Clarcam for the trainer that won this last year. He will relish the good ground and has solid Graded form behind him having finished a 7 length 2nd to Guitar Pete on penultimate start. I was disappointed not to see him win next time at Musselburgh but that could be down to the deteriorating ground. He's well treated and, though his future lies over fences, worth taking at 16/1. He's worse off at the weights with previous conqueror Orgilgo Bay but that runner has plenty to prove after 2 poor efforts and yard form is a worry. At a little bigger is Violet Dancer for the Moores who won a big handicap with an unexposed sort at the weekend. He looked stumped by heavy ground in behind Le Rocher in a December Grade 1 and the form of his disappointing run last time is very patchy as they went no gallop. He's 25/1 and can outrun his mark of 130. Handiwork and Akdam are the picks of the crazy prices but both look exposed.
Clarcam 1pt e/w - U/P @ 16/1
Violet Dancer 1pt e/w - U/P @ 20/1
This is very much an e/w play for the Champion Bumper but Our Kaempfer certainly brings better form with him this afternoon than a few ahead of him in the market. Just over a length 3rd to Red Sherlock here last time, he was still green early and had more to do turning for home than the 1st and 2nd. He showed a good turn of foot but ultimately a truer test is likely to suit and the form of the race is solid. That contest has been won by the likes of Best Mate and Rock On Ruby and it's a decent bit of form to go by coming into this. He will need to have improved again but Charlie Longsdon, who has a good bumper record, indicated there was more to come with time and he's back after a 4 month absence. The Irish will be tough to beat and you couldn't find a more likely winner than Shaneshill but he's a 7/1 shot and I'd rather be on the 28/1 about the selection in the hope he's progressed.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 25/1
The Baylis & Harding is a wonderful race to get stuck into for an opening handicap of the day. I want to focus on the
youngsters this year, normally a preference in a race like this, and a couple of 7 year olds make most appeal. The first is
a really progressive chaser in Standing Ovation who was perhaps a bit disappointing last time. He just gets preference
to Tour Des Champs who beat him at Kempton but he is 4lb better off and likely to have the ground in his favour. Connor O'Farrell
has a super record on him and really looked after him last time after he began to struggle to go with them. The worry is that
he wasn't great on his only start here but that came after a few races on the bounce and the spring ground should really be
a plus this afternoon. I expect him to resume progression at 22/1 for a yard bang in form. The other of note is last
year's RSA 3rd Hadrian's Approach who has to be capable of a win off 146. He carries more weight than a winner for
some time but, if he can jump like he did last time, he's potentially a Grade 1 horse in a handicap. He will not want it too
quick and he's no great price at 10/1 but definitely pick of those at the head of the market and he should make the
frame. This is likely to be run at a good gallop and both of these look as though they'll stay plenty further. Shakalakaboomboom
could be very interesting at a price but, equally, could be pulled up.
Hadrian's Approach 1pt e/w - U/P @ 8/1
Standing Ovation 1pt e/w - U/P @ 20/1
This could be blind faith but if you are confident about something, you may as well go all out. I backed The New One after last year's Neptune for this and have continued all year. He has a very nice profile for this, right age, perfect mix of speed and stamina, and certainly has his ideal ground this afternoon. I'd encourage backing him at 3/1. Th addition of Captain Cee Bee is a big plus as he will want a decent test and, though connections have said they are prepared to go forward, he's best ridden prominently off a decent gallop. I'm taking on Hurricane Fly and if he can beat a field where pretty much everything else wants the race to pan out differently, on good ground, hats off to him. As a 10 year old, it's a very big ask. At a price I do think Jezki has a chance in headgear if they go a fair pace. Only a chance though, and winning the classiest Champion for 8 years or so will take some going.
3pt win - 3rd @ 10/3
For the rest of the day I'm taking on the Irish in the Arkle with the 2 major Brits. Highland Retreat and L'Unique could be interesting against Quevega but, equally, she may not be beatable. I'm happy chancing The Liquidator in the Supreme. As for the 4 miler, I'm on Shutthefrontdoor at 14/1 but wouldn't be backing him at 7/2. I do think it may be worth having a go at According To Trev though, who will be suited by the drying conditions. His dam has an impressive stayers pedigree, including a sister from the family of National winner Numbersixvalverde. He looked progressive at the start of the season but also looked a touch slow over 3 miles 1 here an 3 miles at Exeter before falling at Newbury when still bang in the mix. He was pulled up in a boggy handicap at Doncaster but should be better on better ground. He has won over hurdles here at 3 miles 2 and is definitely worth chancing at 33/1, though a fair step up is required on ratings.
1pt e/w - P/U @ 28/1
The first shout for the Novice Handicap at the end of the day is an obvious one but I'm really surprised he's not favourite. Manyriverstocross really does tick all the boxes and should be seen to his very best over this trip on decent ground. He ran a really solid race behind Oscar Whisky last time and is still potentially well treated off 3lb higher than when a staying on 3rd behind Ted Veale in the County Hurdle last year. He may well find one too good but the yard is hitting form at the right time and it's tricky not to see him involved at 10/1. Plenty of others make appeal and the two Philip Hobbs inmates are of particular interest at decent prices. Baby Mix is another that could be well treated for a yard having a great season and he's won here over hurdles. The one that is really interesting though is Festive Affair on handicap debut. He beat a couple of really decent sorts last time when finally getting it together and 134 looks lenient. His December efforts were in keeping with yard form but they've sent out a few winners in February and I'm sure he'll come on for better ground given his pedigree. A step up in trip looks sure to suit and he is worth taking at 14/1.
Manyriverstocross 1pt e/w - U/P @ 17/2
Festive Affair 1pt e/w - U/P @ 20/1
The Liquidator 1pt e/w - U/P @ 12/1
The pick of the races today comes from Ireland and a 14 runner field in the Leinster National. Of those at the head of the
market I'd side with Los Amigos who's form looks solid and this is technically easier than the Thyestes last time. However,
there's a bit more value in opting for Castle Wings at 8/1 for a yard having a fine year. He went very close
here over hurdles off a 7lb higher mark and is particularly interesting on step back up to 3 miles. He could do without the
ground drying out too much but is certainly capable of winning off this mark and is very consistent. Last time was lucky but
it would have been no disgrace finishing a well held 2nd to the 140+ rated hurdler Blood Cotil and this is a very feasible
task back in handicap company. The other just to have a speculative punt on is the returning French export Snooze at
18/1. He may need the run and John Cullen isn't exactly flying, though he did send 1 winner out in January from 4 runners
(0-3 last month). This 8 year old is well treated off a mark of 123 if recapturing his form of some 14 months ago. That said,
he put in some acceptable efforts on ground that may have been a touch quick at times in France towards the end of the summer
and Ian McCarthy has a solid record on him.
Castle Wings 1pt e/w - U/P @ 7/1
Snooze 1pt e/w - U/P @ 20/1
Kim Muir Challenge Cup
Well Rocky Creek is a blow and I wish I'd gone NRNB, though ringworm couldn't really have been foreseen. Spring Heeled is the last ante post bet to go into this year's festival portfolio and he should definitely be taken NRNB. He is likely to run in the Kim Muir or the 3 mile handicap chase on day 1 but I fancy the sterner test of the Kim Muir would suit better. The things against him are questionable yard form and jumping errors that he will not be able to get away with in this ultra competitive heat. Hoewever, this is an easier contest on paper (Class 2) than that which he faced over 3 miles 3 and a haf furlongs when he ran here behind Alvarado back in Novemeber. He loomed up menacingly 3 out before being carried wide and fading, clearly not seeing out the trip. 3 miles does look a touch sharp for him though, as was the case at Leopardstown last time when staying on after racing up with a strong pace on unsuitably soft ground. Both his last 2 successes came on good so the forecast is positive and he's 4lb lower than when last seen here. His form is very solid, namely behind subsequent winners Double Seven, Hidden Cyclone, and, going further back, He'llberemembered and Alderwood. That makes a mark of 138 look very workable. This owner usually goes with the capable Robbie McNamara in this type of race and they have tasted plenty of success together back in Ireland. He'll need to jump a great deal better but 25/1 will be a fair bit shorter on the day if he takes his place and there's plenty in his favour.
1pt e/w NRNB - WON @ 12/1
Both the Pipe pairing look nice types for the EBF Final at Sandown and Knight Of Noir would get preference. However, I'm loath
to put up a 5/1 shot in a race like this. So many are making handicap debuts and I like Horizontal Speed who won very encouragingly
last time at Taunton. This could be a decent test and he's got plenty of stamina, especially given the way the others finished
last time. Preference just goes to the less experienced and potentially less exposed Gone Too Far
who has bumped into some very classy novices on his last 2 starts and looks very well treated. He shouldn't mind this ground on breeding and a better pace than he had last time at the trip should suit his stayers pedigree. I think he will be shorter than 8/1 come the off. One other at a big price worth a punt is Saffron Wells who won decisively on handicap debut. He is bred to handle heavy ground but conditions last time were so bad that perhaps we can forgive him. He was also in that race to qualify for this, a long term target, though I fancy connections weren't too fussed about winning it. He has plenty to find with Doctor Harper but that runner really controlled the race out in front and this is likely to be run at a stronger gallop. His mark still looks workable and, though this is a really classy race, he's interesting at 33/1.
Gone Too Far 1pt e/w - U/P @ 13/2
Saffron Wells 1pt e/w - 2nd @ 25/1
The next test comes over 3 miles 1 on better ground than the hurdlers are likely to face. I backed Chartreux last time when an unlucky faller but simply can't have him for this over a stiffer test where he's likely to be taken on for the lead, not at 4/1 anyway. I'm reluctant to go for any of the front runners but it looks as though one of them is likeliest to prevail and preference is for the stoutest stayer. De La Bech has contested 3 miles 4 but really didn't see it out and, though this looks his best trip, he probably wants to be able to dominate on better ground. Soll made all in this race last year off 2lb lower and wasn't stopping at the finish. He hasn't been firing of late but really is a course lover and a drop in trip from the 2 miles 5 he faced last time is sure to suit. His best effort this term came here over 2 miles 6 on decent ground and, though he's a winner on heavy, he is by Presenting and the drying ground could be in his favour today. 11/2 is a fair price and this should be run to suit.
1pt win - U/P @ 3/1
I'm not a big fan of putting up John Ferguson horses. They are rarely decent value and the last time I backed one it was thumped. So why I'm putting up New Year's Eve, a horse that has been a beaten favourite on 3 of his last 6 starts is beyond me. But, there again, he has looked a different horse since being fitted with a hood and is still well treated for this on the basis of his novice form, not to mention his 2nd in the Champion Bumper. He was also a 6 length 2nd to Ptit Zig off levels a year ago so if the hood has cracked it then he's definitely well treated off 130. Dropping back in trip from a slowly run affair should be no trouble in this bigger field and, 4 from 4 with Jack Quinlan on top, 12/1 is bigger than it should be. We also have last year's Champion Bumper 2nd in Regal Encore and he has twice been a beaten favourite since going over hurdles. He is potentially well treated but no bet as a 7/2 shot.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 11/1
A strong class 3 handicap at Sandown sees 3 very progressive looking winners line up. Of them, preference would be for Spencer
Lea and I think he should be favourite. This is a step up in class for the other 2 but Spencer Lea has the least improvement
to find on paper and was better value than the winning margin at Ludlow given he clouted the last. However, I'm keen to have
a go at the price about San Telm for a yard having a good year thus far. He was a chase winner off 3lb lower back in
December on good to soft ground and unseated next in a hot contest. 2 runs over hurdles since have come over too far and on
really testing ground and that just doesn't suit. At 14/1, he will be doing very well to beat all the 3 improvers but
I can see him in the frame back on a slightly sounder surface and over a more gettable trip.
1pt e/w - 3rd @ 12/1
Earlier in the day sees Greywell Boy looking to win the race he won last year and he's 4lb higher this afternoon. On the basis of that form you'd have to say that bottom weight Coolbeg is very well treated but he comes here in no sort of form. Greywell Boy ran really well last time from a couple of pounds out of the handicap and drops in class for this. He's not a big price at 15/8 but is a justified favourite and nothing else is big enough to warrant taking him on. The yard is going well and Richard Johnson is a very positive booking. The chase course is soft, good to soft in places so I'll have a reserved bet just incase it firms up before racing as he wants plenty of cut. Bullet Street is close behind in the betting and rightly so but I'm not sure his mark is all that lenient and, whilst placed on his last 2 starts, he hasn't looked like troubling the winner.
2pt win - WON @ 5/4
Ayr may not make it but it's worth having a go at The Tracey Shuffle if it does. There will be plenty of overnight rain and the French bred 3 year old has won on heavy before. I can't quite believe he isn't favourite and makes plenty of appeal at 9/4. The worry is that I've been stung with him before but that was when he was succumbing to Tap Nght and this is so much easier, even with some disappointing French efforts behind him. I trust Brian Ellison to get a horse ready on first start for the yard and Nathan Moscrop is worthy of his 7lb claim. The potential favourite is Island Heights but I'm not sure he's all that well treated and this will be some ask for a 5 year old that's never been this far in such conditions. By Heron Island, he'd surely prefer better ground and his sole point win came on good so he looks very opposable.
3pt win - U/P @ Evens
The first of the Wincanton handicaps is a pretty weak race for its class though it does have a strong favourite. On form Dynamic
Idol is the stand out pick but backing a 2/1 shot returning form a year off that is up 11lb is not everyone's cup of tea,
certainly not mine. King Ozzy could outrun his price and the yard are going well, I just wonder if this ground will be a little
on the heave side for him. Most appealing at the prices is Enchanting Smile at 7/2 for a team that has hit the
crossbar a few times of late but remain in good form. She is a young, improving mare over fences and looks as though she could
surpass a hurdles rating of 97 in time. A mark of 88 here should give her a realistic opportunity. It is up in class from
last time but her effort on penultimate start was impressive and the form looks solid enough. She will certainly be at home
in the ground.
1pt win - U/P @ 11/4
Interesting that Nick Scholfield isn't on Quaddick Lake this afternoon but Chris Meehan is given a chance with his 10lb claim. He has won here but you'd perhaps have wanted to see more in recent starts to be confident backing him and the stable isn't firing on all cylinders at present. The favourite is likeable but this ground is a question mark for him, for all he looks well treated. A safe play would be Helium at 6/1 who has held Chesil Beach Boy on 2 recent starts. He is 2lb higher for his Taunton win but is arguably still well treated on his from of a few years ago and not old enough to rule out more improvement. There should be a bit of pace on here and that will suit given he's been placed over further. Moujik Borget is surely better than his current mark but has disappointed in 2 starts since winning at Haydock and was held by the selection last time.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 6/1
Carlisle looks destined for heavy ground too today. That will suit Snuker who returns after a trip too far last time. This will be sharp for him though and he'll likely try and take them along at a good gallop to ensure a real test. He is 6lb higher than his last win and I just wonder if he's had his moment for the season. Hidden Horizons should be favourite for me and is therefore a solid option at 7/2. She is back in trip from last time where, unlucky to unseat after being hampered, she may not have seen out 2 miles 7 furlongs. This 2 furlong shorter trip, and a proper test at it, should see her to better effect, though it is a better contest up against the boys. She has a rider on top that has a super record on her in points and, crucially, claims 7lb so I fancy she has a bit in hand with the handicapper. Russe Blanc deserves a mention but he will not want a stamina test in this ground.
2pt win - U/P @ 5/1
The feature at Kempton sees an interesting all weather debutant in Born To Surprise. He's a big price but should handle the
surface on breeding and a step up in trip may be no bad thing. The concern on debut for new yard is he was due to run in a
claimer last month before being withdrawn and is ultimately a little too risky this afternoon. Epic Battle is just a touch
short for his Kempton debut and so too Rebellious Guest, though both have very likeable profiles. I think Spa's Dancer
should be favourite and so he looks the one to side with at 15/2. Ryan Moore has won on him before and is a very positive
booking. He perhaps has stamina to prove but made an encouraging reappearance 3 weeks ago when staying on over a mile at Lingfield
and should get this far on breeding. He has won at the track and is well drawn to race prominently off a potentially sluggish
1pt e/w - U/P @ 9/2
Another crazy one coming up but Over And Above is a better prospect than the 14/1 about him would suggest. You can't beat course and distance form and he was successful here on penultimate start off a mark of 70. Now running off 78, he is 4lb out of the handicap today but was 7lb out of the handicap for the win so is technically up just 5lb and the form has worked out very well with Bennys Well going in up in class. He was poor last time but may just be better suited to a slog and the undulations of Catterick. Harris would be the pick if trying to just find the winner but he needs to brush up his jumping and is short at 5/2. Perhaps the most sensible play would be Swingbridge at around 6/1 who looks well treated if handling fences on debut. There are question marks everywhere though and double figures about the selection is worth chancing.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 16/1
I'm not keen to take on Dungeness today at Exeter as such but he doesn't exactly look a nice price at 2/1. He was gong ok
here over course and distance on penultimate start before the rider had a stirrup malfunction but there's no guarantee he
would have won. Next time saw him fade over shorter after setting a fierce early gallop and he will have competition for the
lead today from Royal Opera. Hopefully Gallic Warrior will let them get on with it up top as he does look well treated
on handicap bow. A step up in trip should suit as long as he doesn't burn himself out and he's bred to handle cut. He won
a bumper on soft ground and his 2 best efforts over obstacles have come here so 8/1 looks a pretty safe e/w option.
1pt e/w - 2nd @ 11/2
Alderluck is probably pick of those in the Devon National but he is getting on a bit and may be vulnerable to something unexposed at the trip. At a similar price but of more appeal is Farmer Matt in the 3 mile handicap chase. The same trainer and jockey as Gallic Warrior, Fergal O'Brien is hitting form and hopefully he'll have a good day. His 8 year old won over hurdles at this trip here and made an encouraging chase debut behind Caid Du Berlais last time. That ground would have been on the fast side for him and better can be expected today at a not too shabby 3/1. Paddy Brennan has a solid record on him and he's potentially well treated of a mark of 114, 3lb lower than his highest over hurdles. The top 2 in the weights can't be discounted but it's a surprise to see them ahead of the selection in the betting.
2pt win - WON @ 3/1
Kodicil is tempting at Southwell this afternoon at a double figure price but he really does need things to go his own way
out in front and that looks unlikely. There are a few that will try and lead, or at least it looks that way on paper, and
so preference is for likely favourite Sky Watch. A maiden over obstacles, he should get every bit of this trip and
will not be hindered by a decent gallop in what could be testing ground. 2 recent efforts on soft and heavy going would indicate
he is well treated off a mark of 118 for handicap debut. The last of them saw him a 13 length 3rd to Toubeera who has gone
on and franked that form and I'm surprised Warren Greatrex's 7 year old is as big as 11/4. Kent Street could be a danger
off a lowly mark and the yard is in good form, certainly better form than when he was last seen. He's too close to the favourite
in the betting though on the slim possibility of a return to winning ways.
2pt win - 2nd @ 3/1
There's a decent little handicap at Kempton this afternoon and one at a price that catches the eye is My Son Max. He will need a bit of luck this afternoon and a strong pace. That is not guaranteed, though not completely ruled out with at least 3 here that have gone forward in the past. He needs all of them to do so today. Michael Blake has had a great start to the year and My Son Max is now 2lb below his last winning mark which came over 5 furlongs at Wolves 11 months ago. He is not all that consistent but given a decent run on penultimate start here off 3lb higher, where he looked as though a step up to this trip was required, he has a better chance this afternoon than 14/1 would suggest. He was last last time out but this is easier and back up in trip. I think Peace Seeker will win and have had a saving nibble on him down in grade.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 14/1
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle
A week to go and likely handicap destinations are becoming increasingly apparent. Nicky Henderson has bemoaned a luckless season but he does go into Cheltenham with a previous month's strike rate of 37% and that's his highest for the season proper for some years. Yes he's had some ill fortune with high profile casualties but his horses are running well and he has some handicap entries of interest. None more so than 5 year old Volnay De Thaix who brings some impressive form with him to Cheltenham, where his only entry is in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.
Unbeaten over hurdles going into the Grade 2 Kennel Gate in December, he was sent off the 4/5 favourite and ultimately held by Irving, this year's Supreme favourite. However, he would have finished a fair bit closer than 6 lengths without being hampered by the faller Prince Siegfried at the last. He was only 4 at the time and gave 3rd placed Splash Of Ginge 3lb. That runner went on to win the Betfair Hurdle off a mark of 134 and, to my eye, that makes Volnay De Thaix potentially very well treated off a mark of 138 at Cheltenham. A step up in trip certainly looks required on form and breeding and, if Irving is even placed in the Supreme, Nicky Henderson's horse will go off half the 20/1 available. The fact that that is NRNB makes him a must back.
In 5 years since it's conception, four 6 year olds and one 5 year old have been successful in the Martin Pipe and it's the novices that make most appeal again this year. Caid Du Berlais is worth keeping an eye on as he looks an intended runner, so too the unbeaten Vieux Lion Rouge who appears the main threat from the Pipe yard. However, nothing looks as well treated as the early selection. With Vaniteux looking Supreme bound, Volnay De Thaix will likely be the main Henderson challenger and have the very capable Jeremiah McGrath for company, a jockey hitting form at the right time.
1pt e/w NRNB - NON RUNNER
There's a really competitive handicap this afternoon at Leopardstown with a few Irish and British National runners on show.
Rather like Teaforthree a few weeks back, I can see them going close but think this may still go to something that doesn't
need quite such a stamina test, especially given a lack of runners that like to go forward. Daring Article is the obvious
choice and he should reverse the form with recent course and distance winner He'llberemembered on this slightly better ground.
However, I prefer the price of Pass The Hat in this competitive, open race. He needs to step up but his form at the
start of the season gives him every right to win off a mark of 119. That Courtncatcher hurdles race has worked out very well
and his Limerick win suggests he's leniently treated given what he beat. Penultimate start was too far, last time too heavy,
no excuses today at 10/1 and he has place claims at least. He is just preferred to the stables other runner Home Farm
who may want a touch further.
1pt e/w - WON @ 6/1
David Pipe is flying at the moment but he sends out a horse tomorrow at Huntingdon that I want t oppose all ends up. Thomas Junior is not guaranteed to handle conditions and, while he is probably a little ahead of the handicapper, there are a few of interest that mean this will not be the walkover his 2/1 price would suggest. Annaluna is a real threat back in a visor but may just be more effective on better ground, perhaps at a stiffer track. Ghost Of A Smile hails form another yard in form and was better than the bare result last time here having made up ground late on. Sarando is the one that I think should be closer in the betting to the favourite and is worth taking at 7/1. Alex Hales is in great nick and his 9 year old has dropped to a mark 30lb lower than his highest over hurdles, 44lb below his highest over fences. He's shown enough in 2 recent runs to suggest that a drop in trip will help and he gets on well with Will Kennedy. The worry is that he doesn't win often but he was placed over course and distance behind the smart The Minack 4 years ago and I can see him in the frame again. He'll race prominently, which will help here, and he should appreciate the likely decent gallop considering he has won over 3 miles.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 11/2
It would be great to see No No Charlie win for Charlie Longsdon but he is a risky proposition at 4/1. Undoubtedly well treated, he still has to prove a handle of heavy ground and has been a beaten favourite 3 times. The tongue tie should help ensure a better performance than last time but he's still not really backable for me. Mission To Mars looks about right in the handicap and is a nice price but the concern is stamina given plenty here, he especially, that like to make the running or have done in the past. Thundering Home would give his yard a welcome wnner if successful this afternoon and he does have a bit to prove at 9/1. However, he looks best going right handed and a true test should help. He often gets done for speed at the back of the field if they haven't gone much of an early gallop but is much more effective when given something to aim at. Hopefullly they won't hang about today. 2 of his 3 turf wins have come on soft and he was outclassed on good ground last time, though, in truth, I don't think he wants it really juicy so heavy is a slight concern. This is easier than last time though and he's down to a fair mark just 4lb higher than his last win, with a classy 3lb claimer on top this afternoon.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 7/1
Most selections will come from Newbury today but Doncaster has a classy handicap worth getting stuck into. I really fancy
Court By Surprise, who goes well here, but there is a horse lining up that is closely matched with him and around double his
price. Emma Lavelle's horse nosed out Night In Milan when they met over 3 miles here 14 months ago and has an extra
5lb in hand this afternoon. The Reveley horse ran in snatches that day but was strongest at the finish and he loves it here.
His last success came over that same trip in a really fast time and he looks as though another 2 furlongs will be no problem
under an extra 6lb. He's eased 2lb from last time when the ground was too soft and, though I think Court By Surprise is likely
to come off a little better, I'd rather chance the 14/1 about the selection. The 2 Nicholls horses are potentially
better than their marks but risky propositions.
1pt e/w - WON @ 14/1
The stayers hurdle at Newbury will be a real slog given the rain they've had. The course was lucky with the weather at the Hennessy meeting but have had bottomless ground ever since and it'll take a real slogger to win this. I think Brackloon High looks a likely winner and couldn't advise against backing him. Promised Wings really catches the eye though at a decent price. He is a course and distance winner, still only 7, but has been completely out of form this term. Only 2lb higher than his last winning mark, he was so impressive that day that an on song Promised Wings would be a real threat here. This is up in class but the time was good enough a year ago in similar conditions to suggest he's capable of stepping up. He technically has 11lb less on his back this afternoon but we have to hope it's a return here that sparks him back into form. It's a risk but one that looks justified as he's the outsider of the field at 16/1.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 15/2
The veterans could be in for another slog over 3 miles 2 and a half furlongs as 4 of the 7 have made the running in the past. The top 3 in the weights are certainly a trio that like to go forward and, of them, Carruthers could be the one to side with. He does have a serious weight to carry though and it would be a serious staying performance to make all this afternoon. Burton Port has a chance back at a track he goes well at and the wind operation may have made a bit of difference based upon his run last time. He made some mistakes but was staying on and easier ground over further could suit him. Tullamore Dew hasn't won in over 20 starts so isn't the obvious choice for a bet. He's so consistent though and has a 17lb pull with Carruthers for the latter's Hennessy win a couple of years ago. It is those 2 that make the most appeal here with conditions taken into consideration and I think there should be a little more between them in the market. Carruthers isn't necessarily big at 9/4 but, with people punting form the heart on the day, he is likely to go off shorter. He will stay all day and would just be vulnerable to a young improver. Fortunately there are none of those on show this afternoon and he very much looks the likely winner.
2pt win - U/P @ 9/4
The following hurdle looks to be a contest between two handicap debutants, both of whom should handle testing conditions. On the face of it Kuda Huraa looks a little better treated than Tiqris given his form last season. I wouldn't have as much as 6lb between them and Philip Hobbs' horse looks about right on the basis of 2 recent novice runs. To his advantage is decent form coming into this, and that gives him every right to be a well supported favourite. Alan King's Kuda Huraa has been off the track for 9 months and not hurdled in 10. King has sent out a few winners after a break of late and, though it's likely he will not be given too hard a race, I fancy he could still be too good for these off a mark of 123. He shaped with promise behind the ill-fated Chatterbox 12 months ago over course and distance and is a more attractive price than the favourite at 7/1.
1pt e/w - 2nd @ 16/1
The Newbury feature is very tricky with any of 4 or 5 that could go off favourite. I've been a consistent supporter of Shangani, especially over Venetia Williams' purple patch, but he stills flatters to deceive. Last time was a tough ask but, equally, this is a step up from recent handicap efforts. Having said that, it's the same for most in the field, this being the classiest contest on paper they've contested. A couple in the field like to go forward, Dashing George definitely will, and it'll need a stayer at the trip to win which puts me off the otherwise likeable Majala. Equally, I'm not sure Ulck Du Lin gets this far, though he has dropped to a really likeable mark. The nod goes to Tara Rose form a yard bang in form. She finished last season really well and would probably have opened her account first up this term but for a bump at the last. She then went over hurdles and followed up with a disappointing effort at Exeter on ground that may have been too quick for her. By Kayf Tara, a bit of cut is always likely to suit and she is related to some stayers who ran well on heavy ground. Her last win came over further than this at Cheltenham off 6lb lower and she has a big chance at 13/2 in a weakfish race for its class.
1pt e/w - U/P @ 8/1