It's a big day of racing and top tipster Andy Holding has all the best bets.
Le Bague Au Roi has always been held in the highest regard by Warren Greatrex and based on her two performances so far over hurdles, she’s just beginning to fulfil some of that potential, but at the same time, it’s arguable whether she’s done enough yet to justify being ahead of DUSKY LEGEND (best price 7-4) in the betting judged on pure form (and time figures) and for that reason, Alan King’s charge has to be the pick at the morning prices. Good enough to chase home the very classy mare Limini in the inaugural running of the Mares Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season, she began this campaign in the best possible fashion by beating a useful field with the minimum fuss over today’s C&D. The feature of that success and many previous other performances has been the way she travels and quickens in her races and with her main market rival likely to go out and try and make this a try test, one would imagine Wayne Hutchinson will adopt a stalking policy in behind the speed before using her turn of foot to pounce late on.
MYSTIFIABLE (best price 7-1) created a favourable impression on his seasonal reappearance at Exeter last year, so armed with the knowledge that he goes particularly well fresh, makes him a very interesting proposition first time up here. Not only did Fergal O’Brien’s inmate coast to victory that day, but he went on to repeat the dose over today’s C&D on his penultimate start and hailing from a yard that are going through a proper purple patch at present, the son of Kayf Tara makes plenty of appeal.
CROSSPARK (best price 15-2) shaped with plenty of encouragement on his two chase starts to date and he looks to be overpriced based on the overall form and time figures generated by both performances. In opening his account at the first time of asking at Southwell, Caroline Bailey’s charge easily turned away the useful Keltus and although he couldn’t quite manage to add to his win tally at Uttoxeter last time out, the numbers attached to that race at the Midland venue suggest it was a very useful one of its kind. In a very strongly run affair, the son of Midnight Legend stayed on really well in the closing stages to finish a never-nearer second to the progressive Pobbles Bay and a repeat of that sort of effort should ensure he isn’t too far away.
No matter which way you strip in down, NATIVE RIVER (best price 5-1) appears to have all the right credentials normally associated with many previous winners of this race and he can provide his genial handler with yet another big Saturday winner. Winner of three of his seven starts over fences, easily the pick of those performances came when he landed the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at the Aintree festival, staying on very strongly to seal the deal in the latter stages. Prior to that terrific conclusion to his campaign, Colin Tizzard’s charge had proven he had stamina in abundance with an excellent runner-up spot behind Minella Rocco in the four-miler at Cheltenham and those two pieces of form clearly make the ideal candidate for this gruelling early-season prize. Moreover, he has proven form around today’s track, and sure to be all the better for a recent spin over hurdles, the son of Indian River – who likes to race prominently – should be bang in the mix throughout.
SIX places with Sky Bet
DEFINITELY RED (best price 11-4) is an extremely likeable and honest galloper and he’s very much in the mould of a horse that should be well suited by the demands of this test. A smart novice last season, Brian Ellison’s inmate rounded off a stellar campaign by landing a listed chase on Ayr’s Scottish National card and even off his revised mark of 142, there looks to be scope for improvement based on the pick of his form and overall performance levels. Beginning this season with a nice pipe-opening win over hurdles at Carlisle, the Definite Article gelding arrives here in tip-top shape and, with this contest likely to develop into an attritional affair due to the stiff track and soft ground, he makes more appeal than most.
MYTHICAL MADNESS (best price 13-2) may have only won a claimer here last week, but the combination of a fast time and the fact David O’Meara saw enough to dip his hand in his pocket suggests he may have a chance of following up in this much stronger contest. Formerly with Charlie Appleby, the son of Dubawi has plenty of back class when racing for the boys in blue and after a 348-day break and a switch of stables, he proved much too good for his opposition seven days ago. The feature of that event was the strong pace throughout and having posted a circuit time of 1.34.8, that kind of number, if repeated, is good enough to drag him into the frame at the very least.