Betfred Cambridgeshire Tips

betfred-cambridgeshire-tips

Johnny Murtagh’s Eddystone Rock is expected to run a big race on Saturday.


Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap 1m1f Newmarket Saturday – With four of the last ten renewals going to the classic generation, the top rated of this year’s 3yo entries, Tony Curtis is worth a second look. Richard Hannon’s Rock of Gibraltar colt won two of his four juvenile starts ( including at listed level) and made a satisfactory return to action when finishing fourth in a Group3 over the course in April. Taking a very strong hold he tried to make all, and not surprisingly was headed a furlong out, but kept on well to finish a respectable fourth. Not seen for another 15 weeks, he again ran well to finish 5th in a Goodwood Group3, and thirteen days later finished 4th, again at Group3 level, where he was less than 2L behind Saturday’s opponent, Master The World, who finished 2nd. Upped to 10f last time he didn’t stay but back to what looks his ideal distance he is worth considering off his mark of 105.

Johnny Murtagh won this as a jockey on Educate (runs again on Saturday) three years ago, and must now fancy his chances of saddling the winner with his rapidly improving 4yo Eddystone Rock. Trained in France, with a conspicuous lack of success, for his first eleven races, he was sold for £28,350 at Tattersalls Autumn “horses in training” sales last year, and joined the Murtagh operation. He failed to win on his first three runs for the new connections, but the penny dropped on his fourth outing, a lowly Wexford maiden in May. (9 1/2f yielding). Since then progress has been relentless, with a facile victory in a Navan handicap off 80, and an even more impressive, close second next time, off a mark of 92, to an animal who next time out very nearly defied a 12lbs higher mark in a most competitive heat. Two months later, 30 days ago, he demonstrated in impressive fashion that progress had been maintained when winning a conditions race very easily from the 104 rated filly Laganore, giving her 9lbs. Laganore certainly upheld the form when going down by the minimum distance in a competitive Gowran Park Group3 next time out. Eddystone Rock looks well treated on a mark of 101 and combined with his proven ability to stay further is one for the short list.

Read the Oddsguru’s 2015 Cambridgeshire Handicap Tips.

It is 46 years since Prince de Galles won back to back Cambridgeshire’s, and Richard Fahey’s 4yo Third Time Lucky is the latest in a long line since, attempting this elusive double. It would not come as any great surprise if his shrewd trainer pulled it off, as he gets in on Saturday off a mark only 5 lbs higher than last year, thanks largely to having only contested three races since his dramatic Short head victory in last year’s renewal. Certainly his last run, 37 days ago, in a York handicap, where despite trouble in running he was beaten less than 2L off Saturday’s mark of 100 strongly suggests that he will be a danger to all.

A nose in front of Third Time Lucky in that York handicap, was Brian Meehan’s 5yo son of Dylan Thomas, Spark Plug. He has failed to catch the judge’s eye since May 2015 but has put up some decent performances in defeat, not least when finishing a close second to the very useful Ayrad in a listed Sandown contest in July. Spark Plug seems to have regained his confidence since his traumatic fall in the 2015 Hunt Cup, and handles most ground, so with his very able trainer hitting some form is another worth considering.

John Gosden, who has won this on two previous occasions, runs the very lightly raced 5yo Sacred Act. The son of Oasis Dream was making only his fifth racecourse appearance when winning a Class3 Sandown handicap 15 days ago off a mark of 89

In his first race for 16 months. There seemed to have been a bit of over reaction on the part of the bookmaking fraternity who immediately installed him as favourite for this, but it is worth remembering, that the Sandown  victory guaranteed the lowly weighted Gosden runner a place in the line up, and looks to me like a very shrewd piece of forward planning. Come Saturday evening Sacred Act may have looked a very well handicapped horse.

Sir Mark Prescott won the Cambridgeshire three times between 1988 and 2003 but has drawn a blank since. However his 4yo colt Celestial Path, 5th in last years 2000gns would have a serious shout at improving the Prescott c.v. If only slightly improving on his good run in a York handicap in July. Badly drawn and attempting to give the winner 15lbs he could be considered an unlucky loser in that strongly run heat, and is only 2lbs higher at the weekend. As excuses can be made for his two subsequent lapses he is definitely one to consider.

The James Fanshawe trained 6yo Knight Owl, running off Saturday’s mark of 92 ran a great race at Ripon last time. He was having his first run for over two months but was only beaten a Shd by course specialist Treasury Notes. This tough and rugged competitor, who is a course and distance winner wouldn’t need to improve much to be competitive and is considered.

Selection:   Sacred Act

E.W.      :    Knight Owl     Eddystone Rock

Temple Stakes Betting Tips

Temple Stakes Betting Tips 5f Group2 Haydock Saturday.

I hope you were on last week’s selection, Belardo, the 8/1 winner of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. Slowly out of the gate, he went left and was soon behind. However Andrea Atzeni always had the field covered, and when he pressed the button inside the final furlong the response was immediate, and he took the lead in the style of a top class animal. This was reminiscent of his victory in the Group1 Dewhurst as a 2yo, when Atzeni was also on top, and he does seem to have an excellent rapport with the horse. Belardo’s action does require some give in the surface for him to perform to his optimum, and given such conditions on the first day of Royal Ascot, he would definitely appeal in the opening heat, The Queen Anne Stakes.

Mecca’s Angel is another animal who loves to get her toe in, and I’m sure connections would love to see the heavens open in advance of Saturday’s Temple Stakes at Haydock. Last year she made her seasonal debut in a Longchamp Group3, winning comfortably on easy ground. She was found out ten weeks later at the Curragh on good ground, going down by a neck to the useful Stepper Point, but next time, back on good-soft ground she covered herself in glory winning the Group1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York in some style. The flying American 2yo filly, Acapulco, who had earlier won the Queen Mary Stakes at the Royal, meeting was sent off the 13/8 favourite, but even in receipt of 24lbs she couldn’t resist Mecca’s Angel’s devastating late burst inside the last 100 yards and was beaten 2L. She didn’t run in the Prix D’Labbaye because of the fast ground and was put away for the season. Having won in the Spring in all three of her campaigns, and indeed finished in front first time out for the last two seasons, she is clearly a mare who comes to hand early, so with plenty of wet weather forecast, she has to be fancied and it may be worth availing of the 3/1 currently on offer.

Top trainer of sprinters, Robert Cowell, is mob handed with five entered at the time of writing. They include the 2013 winner Kingsgate Native and it would be wonderful to see this 11yo veteran do it again, but realistically his best chance lies with the 7yo Oasis Dream gelding, Goldream. Another proverbial “Fine Wine” he didn’t try his hand at group class until last May when he won the Group3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket. Better was to come with two Group1 victories, in the Kings Stand at Royal Ascot, and The Prix D’ Labbaye at Longchamp. He has been disappointing in his two outings so far this term, both in Dubai in March, but his trainer now reports him back to his best. However he is another who is ground dependant, needing a fast surface to show his best and the current forecast is not in his favour. Also he has a Group1 penalty to carry so perhaps he is one for later in the season.

Clive Cox’s 4yo Invincible Spirit colt, Profitable demonstrated that he is a sprinter on the “up” last time when winning the Palace House Stakes in taking fashion where he stayed on strongly to get the better of Jungle Cat, and Waady. As the Cox horse drifted from 16/1 to 20/1 and Waady was backed in to 9/2 favourite it is reasonable to suppose that Profitable has the greater scope for improvement and is likely to confirm the form. Partnered again by Adam Kirby, who has been in the plate for all three of his victories he is well worth considering.

Edward Lynam’s super old warrior Sole Power won this five years ago and judging by his run at Meydan at the beginning of March it wouldn’t come as a great surprise to see him do it again. As always held up he came with a great run and only failed by a nose and a short head to get up to beat Fityaan and Jungle Cat. Both subsequent efforts have been less encouraging but given good ground you ignore this 5f specialist and winner of over £2,000,000 in prize money at your peril.

The 7yo entire, Pearl Secret, having been second to Hot Streak in this in 2014, he took the main prize last year. He failed to hit the back of the net in his next six races but put in some great efforts in defeat, not least when finishing 4th in the Prix D’Labbaye at Longchamp in October. Drawn out with the washing in stall fifteen jockey Atzeni had little choice but to drop him in and he travelled in last place until approaching the final furlong where he finished well to finish fourth. Oisin Murphy is in the plate at the weekend and his chance is respected but it is worth noting that this is his first run of the season and his previous win and second in the event were preceded by a race. Is he match fit?

Selection : Mecca’s Angel

E.W.      :  Profitable

Ayr Gold Cup 6f Saturday

Peter CH

Peter Chappell-Hyam’s 5yo Buckstay has been campaigned at 7f and further but it certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented for an animal with such credentials to win.

It was most disappointing that last week’s selection in the St Leger, Order Of St George, was re routed to the Irish equivalent because of concerns with the going at Doncaster. It seems to this observer that good ground was highly likely at the Yorkshire track, and indeed the Doncaster race was run on ground very similar to the one that prevailed at the Curragh where the O’Brien horse won in a hack canter.

There can be little doubt that he would have won at Doncaster and yet again, scant consideration was afforded to ante post punters. However our next best, Bondi Beach,(after a prolonged inquiry) did collect, so upwards and onwards. Saturday’s Ayr Gold Cup, with twenty five runners theoretically handicapped to cross the finishing line together, looks a much trickier puzzle to solve. Happily there are a few strong trends which may help in finding a solution. All of the last ten winners were rated at least 97, and with only two exceptions, carried at least 9st. Only two managed a burden of more than 9st4lbs. Another very relevant stat is the fact that only two of the last ten winners had managed to cross the line in front in more than one race that season, probably highlighting connections desire to minimise the amount of weight carried. It is one of the toughest sprint handicaps of the year, run over a demanding course, with the weather often playing a hand, so stamina is most important. A proven ability over the trip is essential, and the stamina to stay further is a definite asset.

Having won all of his four starts, the Richard Fahey trained 3yo Dutch Art gelding, and current favourite, Don’t Touch is on a real roll. Tackling a Class2 handicap for the first time, he showed maturity beyond his years, when taking the Great St Wilfred at Ripon last time out. Backed in to 4/1 favourite in an admittedly depleted thirteen runner field, he ran on strongly when the penny dropped inside the final furlong, to win by a head off a mark of 96. He is sure to have learnt a lot at Ripon, and although 3yo’s have a poor recent record (thirteen years since one won) he looks well treated off a mark of 101 giving him a nice racing weight of 9st1lb and is shortlisted.

Kevin Ryan, who has won the race three times, (twice in the last four years) has an interesting contender with his 4yo gelding, Lexington Abbey. He went down by a short head at Nottingham eight weeks ago off a mark of 95 and was put up 2lbs, almost guaranteeing him a place in Saturday’s field. Given ground no worse than good-soft, he is worth a second look at a big price particularly as Irish ace Pat Smullen has been booked.

The Andrew Balding trained 7yo Highland Colori won this two years ago off a mark of 104 and gets into this years renewal off a mark 1lb lower. Having raced prominently he faded to finish eighth last time, in his first run for twelve weeks, but previously had shown the engine was still there when beaten less than a length in a Class2 7f Newmarket handicap. He seems to be suited by plenty of give these days, and there is little doubt that his shrewd trainer will have him primed for a repeat of his 2013 performance.

David O’Meara’s 4yo Highland Acclaim got going too late in last weeks 5 1/2f Portland handicap at Doncaster, but came home in grand style finishing 5th off a mark of 98. Bound to be well suited by the extra 1/2f at the weekend, and again racing off 98 O’Meara must have strong prospects of repeating last years success with Louis The Pious.

Marco Botti’s 4yo Golden Steps showed that he was on an upward curve when taking a Class2 handicap at Goodwood last time off a mark of 96. Dettori, who has ridden the winner twice in the past six years has been booked, so although up 7lbs since Goodwood must be considered.

Peter Chappell-Hyam’s 5yo Buckstay has been campaigned at 7f and further but it certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented for an animal with such credentials to win. Indeed three of the last ten winners had won over further than six furlongs and the above mentioned Highland Colori boasted success over a mile. Buckstay won his last race, a 7f Class2 handicap at headquarters off a mark of 97 and races at the weekend off a 4lb higher mark. He probably handles most conditions, so it’s unlikely his uber shrewd trainer is travelling north without serious ambition.

Selection: Buckstay.

E.W. : Highland Colori.

Kodi Bear Fancied For Celebration Mile

Goodwood

Kodi Bear is a rapidly improving animal and has a terrific chance in the Celebration Mile.

Inaugurated as a Group3 event in 1967, it was elevated to it’s present status in 1977 and features most of the top milers of the last four and a half decades, including the mighty Brigadier Gerard, Mark of Esteem, and Ravens Pass on its roll of honour. The classic generation have been the most successful age group, collecting in thirty two of the fourty seven renewals since its inception. Of Saturday’s trainers, only John Gosden has previously hit the back of the net, (Mutathir, 1998 and Ravens Pass, 2008) but Roger Charlton,represented by Captain Cat at the weekend, has had two placed from only three runners in the past decade. David Simcock,s only runner over the same period was placed, and James Fanshawe has had one placed from four attempts.

The Gosden runner this time is the 3yo Richard Pankhurst, and he will be trying to emulate his sire Ravens Pass. On only his second racecourse appearance, at Royal Ascot in June last year, he looked an outstanding prospect, when beating the very useful Toscanini by nearly four lengths, earning a rating of 116. He hasn’t been seen since, but coming from this yard, a fourteen months absence may be no bar to success. However with the weekends weather outlook in mind, it is worth remembering that his sires offspring much prefer top of the ground conditions, and a waiting brief is advised.

The patriarch of the Hills clan, Barry, won the race three times in the eighties and nineties, is unrepresented in this years renewal, but son Charles, who is having such an outstanding season, holds a strong hand with the 3yo Dutch Art colt, Dutch Connection, and the 4yo Cable Bay. Both have strong course form so the idiosyncratic track shouldn’t pose a problem to either, but soft ground would probably be a negative for the three year old. As the ground, at the time of writing is soft and the meteorological forecast is changeable, the stables best chance may lie with Cable Bay. He was probably given too much to do when held up in midfield in the 7f Hungerford Stakes three weeks ago, and finished fourth, but a reproduction of his run in the 1m Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May would make him a serious contender. Held up out the back by Jamie Spencer, he ran on well in the final furlong, finishing fifth about a length and a half behind the top class Night Of Thunder. One for the shortlist!

Another trainer enjoying a good season is Clive Cox, and his 3yo colt Kodi Bear is a rapidly improving animal. Having finished second in the Group1 Dewhurst Stakes in his last race as a 2yo, he was all the rage on his belated reappearance in a listed race at Windsor at the end of June, but had to work quite hard to collect on the good to firm ground. Thrown in at the deep end in a Gp1 at Chantilly a fortnight later, he was well beaten, but may have found the race coming too soon. Given a four and a half week break, he destroyed a decent field in a Sailsbury Gp3 three weeks ago. This progressive colt will handle soft conditions at the weekend and looks the one to beat.

Olly Stevens’ 4yo colt, Lightning Spear is by pivotal so will appreciate any easing of conditions on Saturday, a point emphasised by his staying on fourth in a Gp1 in testing conditions at Deauville three weeks ago. Only his fourth start on turf, he stayed on well going down by 1 1/2L, 1 1/2L, Nse, to Esoterique, Territories, and Wild Chief. He is another on an upward curve, and given holding ground at the weekend could well be in the mix.

Selection: Kodi Bear.

E.W. : Lightning Spear.

Northumberland Plate Betting Preview 2m Newcastle Saturday

Totalize

Brian Ellison’s Totalize ticks many boxes for Saturday’s Northumberland Plate.

It was very disappointing to see last week’s selection in the Wokingham Handicap, Huntsmans Close, having to be withdrawn after getting loose in the preliminaries. Trained to the minute, and judging from the dispirited look on his trainers face, I’m sure we would have got a good run for our money. However there will be plenty more days in the sun for Huntsmans Close, and his very able trainer Roger Charlton could very well land a large pot in the big one at Newcastle on Saturday, with his talented stayer Quest for More, to restore his spirits.

Twice a winner over 1m4f, and once over 2m (Ascot), he made a most encouraging reappearance when going down by a hd to Astronereus at Newmarket (3 May 1m4f) with the subsequent impressive Royal Ascot winner Arab Dawn, 11/2L back in third. He confirmed his progress when winning a Goodwood handicap ( 1m6f Gd) off a six pounds higher mark thirteen days later, beating Oasis Fantasy by 1/2L. He won comfortably at the Sussex track, so the 1lb turn around with the runner up should prove surmountable. While definitely going the right way I just wonder if 1m6f might prove his optimum trip as last years Ascot win over 2m was a hard fought affair in a slow time. However it was a brave win as he was carrying 10st and held on well. Certainly if he maintains his progress over Saturday’s trip he must have fair prospects of defying a rise of 8lbs and is considered.

Richard Fahey, trainer of last years winner, Angel Gabrial, is triple handed, with last years hero accompanied by two more Gabrials, King and Star. Having finished in close proximity to the gold cup winner, Trip to Paris, on two occasions this year, Gabrials king is perhaps the more interesting. Despite being trapped on the inner until approaching the final furlong, he was beaten a rapidly reducing 3 3/4L when receiving only 2lbs from Trip to Paris at Ripon on his reappearance. It was a case of more of the same in the Chester Cup twelve days later, when again Franny Norton couldn’t mount a challenge until too late and again finished three lengths behind the Gold Cup hero. He was slightly disappointing in his last race, a slowly run affair (Haydock 2m good May 23rd), where held up off a pedestrian pace, he kept on well to get within 6 1/2L of the winner Seamour. Set to meet the winner on 11lbs better terms on Saturday, and mindful of his form with the Gold Cup winner, he has to be on the shortlist.

Marco Botti’s 2014 Chester Cup winner, Suegioo, ran a fine race in last years renewal, when finishing second to Angel Gabrial, but hadn’t shown much in his four subsequent outings, until last time, when despite an awkward head carriage, he buckled down to the job in hand, and got to within 2 3/4L of Seamour at Haydock. He meets Seamour on 4lbs better terms on Saturday, and is also 6lbs better off with his conquerer, Angel Gabrial, in last years race, so looks quite well handicapped. A slight reservation would be his poor win to race ratio (2 from 22 starts), but in the hands of his very able handler, is seriously considered.

Eleven 4yo’s have won since 1985, but only one, Tominator, has been successful in the last seven years, so perhaps local man Brian Ellison’s best chance of landing this long sought after prize, lies not with his 4yo, and current favourite Seamour, but with one of his other three runners, and his 6yo Totalize ticks many boxes. Only seventh in the race last year, he meets Angel Gabrial on 3lbs better terms, but more importantly, looks as if he has been laid out for this. He had only the one run after this last year, (York August 20 2m) when ridden by a 7lb claimer he finished 8L behind the second horse that day, Quest for More, with whom ( excluding the claimers allowance), he is now 16lbs better off. He ran a great race on his reappearance, going down by 1 3/4L to his stablemate Seamour. Sure to come on a lot for the run and 5lbs better off with Seamour, in what is bound to be a Truely run race,his chance is obvious.

It has to be said that stepped up to 2m for the first time at Haydock, the very lightly raced Seamour’s performance was full of merit, and if continuing to progress at the trip, it will be no surprise to see him involved at the business end .

Selection: Totalize

E.W. : Gabrials King

Achilles Stakes Betting Tips 5f 3.10

Muthmir

William Haggas’s 5yo Invincible Spirit gelding Muthmir will be hoping for Group1 glory at Royal Ascot in the Kings Stand Stakes in three weeks time, and must have serious prospects of taking this en route.

Our E.W. Suggestion, Pretend, for last weeks Temple Stakes, didn’t make it to the start due to the forecast soft ground, and ironically the going may not have been such an issue as the winner Pearl Secret came home in a time just 1.86 seconds slower than standard. However He is entered again on Saturday, and if this very progressive horse transfers his A.W. Ability to turf, He is going to be a very potent force indeed. One for the short list if turning up.

William Haggas’s 5yo Invincible Spirit gelding Muthmir will be hoping for Group1 glory at Royal Ascot in the Kings Stand Stakes in three weeks time, and must have serious prospects of taking this en route. He was certainly most impressive in last years Portland Handicap, when despite stumbling badly, He absolutely hacked up off a mark of 100, clearly marking him out as a Group horse. He reappeared in the Group2 Duke of York Stakes over 6f, and despite running far too freely, was only 1L adrift, in 5th, at the line. Indeed He was less than 1/2L behind Jack Dexter, who ran such a fine race ( Btn nk) in last weeks Temple Stakes, so reverting to Saturday’s more suitable trip, his prospects look bright.

David O’Meara’s 6yo Exceed and Excel gelding, Out Do has finished behind Muthmir both times they’ve met, but it does appear that the O’Meara runner has improved since their last encounter. He won a Pontefract handicap off 98 in April, and put up an improved performance twenty four days later when taking a York handicap off a mark of 104. In the hands of this Superb trainer, it would be no surprise to see further progress at the weekend.

Selection:Muthmir

Danger:Pretend

Temple Stakes Betting Tips 5f Group 2 Haydock Park Saturday

Hot Streak trainer Kevin Ryan.

Hot Streak won this for top handler Kevin Ryan, last year, and a repeat would come as no surprise. He reappeared last year in the Palace House Stakes, finishing third before taking this.

Unfortunately, our 10/1 E.W. Suggestion, Toormore, in last week’s Lockinge Stakes, couldn’t quite get past his stable companion Night of Thunder, but going down by a fast diminishing neck, he covered himself in glory. He seemed to get slightly unbalanced when pressure was applied, but once straightened, ran on with great resolution, so hopefully our selection for Haydock on Saturday will enjoy a more trouble free passage.

Heading the market at 4/1 is Edward Lynam’s evergreen 8yo, Sole Power. He demonstrated his well being when winning a Group1 at Meydan on March 28th, bringing his career winnings to a staggering £1,924,956. Two reservations about his prospects at the weekend would be ground conditions, and the man doing the steering on top. While He handles most surfaces, He has never won with the word soft in the ground description, so with the weather unsettled, a waiting brief is advised. Jamie Spencer takes over riding duties from Richard Hughes, who knows the horse so well, and who has given this “hold up” animal some magnificent rides, not least last time out at Meydan. Certainly the way Hughes produced him to win last years Group1 Nunthorpe, will live long in the memory. However Spencer himself is no mug when riding a hold up horse, so given decent ground at the weekend Sole Power must have strong prospects of bringing up the £2,000,000 in winnings.

That very talented handler of sprinters, Robin Cowell, runs two, the 6yo Oasis Dream gelding, Gold Dream, and the 10yo veteran Kingsgate Native. They both ran in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket, three weeks ago, with Gold Dream winning, and Kingsgate Native finishing third. Gold Dream, if coming on for the Newmarket race, would certainly be on my shortlist but he is another who likes good ground. He may also be better suited by a stiffer track when racing over the minimum trip.

Hot Streak won this for top handler Kevin Ryan, last year, and a repeat would come as no surprise. He reappeared last year in the Palace House Stakes, finishing third before taking this. This year he reappeared in a Longchamp Group3, acquitting himself well, finishing third. Bound to improve for the run, Hot Streak who is not ground dependant, has to be on the shortlist.

Charlie Appleby’s 4yo Invincible Spirit gelding Pretend looks interesting. Campaigned almost exclusively over five and six furlongs on the all weather, He has been eye catchingly successful, .winning six of his nine races. Equally effective at five or six He took a big step forward in his last two races, where showing an impressive turn of foot easily accounted for Alben Star on both occasions. If this rapidly improving animal transfers his ability to turf, they can all look out on Saturday.

David Barron saddles last years runner up, Pearl Secret, and 8lbs better off for the 1/2L He was behind Hot Streak, you would have to fancy his chances in this years renewal. However the 8lbs was the weight for age allowance ( Hot Streak was only three) so the more pertinent piece of form is perhaps that Group3 at Longchamp two weeks ago when the Barron horse was well behind Hot Streak, who indeed will be 2lbs better off on Saturday.

If the ground does come up soft at the weekend, Evanna Mc Cutcheon’s 8yo gelding Maarek would be worth considering. Winner of the Prix de L’Abbe in 2013, He ran well in Hot Streak’s recent Longchamp race, finishing 3/4L behind the Kevin Ryan runner. However He had had the benefit of a run, so on 2lbs worse terms it may be wise to stick with Hot Streak.

Selection: Hot Streak.

E.W. Pretend.

Racing Betting Tips Irish Grand National 3m 5f Fairyhouse Easter Monday

Irish Grand National 3m5f Fairyhouse Easter Monday

Willie Mullins, (who has never won the race, although his father Paddy was three times successful), tries with his National Hunt Chase 4th Perfect Gentleman,and looks to have a serious chance.

First run in 1870 over a distance of 3m4f, the trip was increased to 3m5f in1991. Historically it had been something of a Dreaper family benefit, with the legendary Tom (trained Arkle) winning nine renewals, including with the great horse in 1964. Tom actually won the race on an unprecedented seven consecutive times between 1961 and 1966, and son Jim continued the good work with four victories, that included a hat trick between 1974 and 1976. Alas, the last time the winner was led up by a Dreaper was back in 1978, when Brown Lad won with an impost of 12st2lbs on his back.

Perhaps this unhappy state of affairs can be rectified this year by Jim’s live contender, Los Amigos. Weight has been most important, with only three winners carrying more than 11st, to victory, since the immortal Desert Orchid won with 12st on his back in 1990. Unusually for such a competitive race, relatively inexperienced animals have thrived, with none of the last ten winners having had more than a dozen runs over the larger obstacles. Indeed, counting the 6yo Garoupe in 1970, nineteen novices, including last years winner Shutthefrontdoor, have hit the back of the net. So what of this years renewal?

Willie Mullins, ( who has never won the race, although his father Paddy was three times successful ), tries with his National Hunt Chase 4th Perfect Gentleman,and looks to have a serious chance. Jumping soundly in the four mile test at Cheltenham, he took it up at the 16th, and only faded into fourth place, when not quite seeing out the trip. He enjoys a 6lbs turn around with the National Hunt Chase winner Cause of Causes, so this lightly raced 10yo, with less than 11st on his back, must have serious prospects of correcting a serious gap in the Mullins C.V.

The previously mentioned Los Amigos is Definitley one to consider. On only his third outing over fences, in last years Thystes Chase, he ran a fine race to finish runner up to the subsequent shd Gold Cup second On his Own, off a mark of 126. He then ran the useful Gallant Oscar ( rec 11lbs) to 3 1/4L when finishing 3rd at Naas (3m sft March 2014). We didn’t see him again until his reappearance at Fairyhouse at the end of January, where he proved his wellbeing, beating the 134 rated Lion Na Bearni (2m5 1/2F sft-hvy). Bred to be a stayer, Jim Dreapers Overbury gelding looks well treated off a mark of 138, and is one for the short list.

Another Lightly raced animal to be interested in is the Ted Walsh trained Champagne James. A very well backed favourite for the 3m2f Kim Muir at the Festival, he wasn’t the recipient of one of Katie Walsh’s best rides. Always behind when held up out the back, he was never in a position to challenge, but did run on through beaten horses to finish 7th. Perhaps the faster ground at Cheltenham was against him, as he does seem well suited by plenty of give, well demonstrated by his run at Naas in Febuary (2m4f sft-hvy), when despite losing a shoe, he was a closing second to Empire of Dirt,(rec 6lbs) who was rated 125. His style of racing strongly suggests that staying is his game, and given easy conditions at the weekend, he is one to consider.

Lucy Wadham’s 7yo La Reve, has won three of his twelve starts over fences, and off Monday’s Mark of 147 is likely to carry more than 11st, but still makes some appeal. He does love racing right handed, and has won five, and been placed four times, from his twelve clockwise starts, so Saturday’s track should be ideal. A reproduction of his run at Sandown at the end of January (3m1/2f sft) where he won very easily from that good yardstick Theatrical Star, would put him firmly in the mix.

Michael Hourigan’s 7yo The Job Is Right is another who may be well suited by Monday’s test. He finished third in The National Hunt Chase (5L ahead of Perfect Gentleman), where he led at the last ( normally the 2nd last) and was only run out of it in the last 100yds, finishing 3rd, (1 1/2L and 5L) behind Cause of Causes, and Broadway Buffalo. Reservations for Monday would be his very hard race at Cheltenham, and his less than fluent jumping.

Selection: Perfect Gentleman.

E.W. : Los Amigos.

The John Smith Novices Handicap Chase (Cl 2) 2m5 1/2f Kelso Sat 3.25

Leading trainer at the Scottish track over the last five years, Cheshire based handler Donald McCain is represented by the 6yo gelding Degooch.

Leading trainer at the Scottish track over the last five years, Cheshire based handler Donald McCain is represented by the 6yo gelding Degooch.

Leading trainer at the Scottish track over the last five years, Cheshire based handler Donald McCain is represented by the 6yo gelding Degooch. He has been plying his trade at Cl 4 level and Saturday’s task represents a considerable step up in class, but he did win very comfortably at Sedgfield last time ( 2m4f soft handicap chase ). He has only been raised 4lbs for Saturday giving him a nice racing weight of 10st 7lbs, so with these connections, it would be no great surprise to see this progressive young chaser bridge that class divide.

Having won a Cl1 bumper and a Cl3 chase, Malcolm Jefferson’s joint top weight Oscar Rock is the class act of the race. He was quite impressive last time out ( 21 Feb Newcastle 2m4f gd/sft Cl3 handicap chase ) where having raced prominently, he made smooth headway to lead at the last, and despite idling in front won comfortably. As this was only his second start over the larger obstacles plenty of progress can be anticipated, making his 6lbs rise look less than onerous. In his only other chase ( Kelso 7 Dec 2m7 1/2f soft ), when finishing second, he didn’t seem to get home over the trip,suggesting that Saturday’s distance may prove ideal.

Having won on four of his seven course appearances, the thouroughly genuine Philip Kirby trained Stopped Out has to be of interest. He has combined a hurdling and chasing career to such good effect that he has won ten and been placed eleven times from his fourty three starts. It has to be said that only two of these successes have been acheived over the larger obstacles, but one of them was last time out in a Cl3 Novice chase ( 2m6 1/2f Market Rasen ) where he beat Minella Forfitness and the 2/5 favourite Close Touch. Can he be improving as a chaser at the age of ten? Time will tell, but he is of some interest racing off a mark 4lbs lower than his hurdles rating on a track he clearly enjoys.

Selection: Degooch.

Danger: Oscar Rock.

Betfred Grand National Trial 3m4f Chase Haydock Saturday

David Pipe’s Broadway Buffalo

Twice a course winner, David Pipe’s Broadway Buffalo certainly seems to enjoy the Lancashire air. He looked the finished article when trotting up over the course ( 3m hvy ) in December, off a mark of 129, only to disappoint six days later at Wetherby.

As a pointer to the winner of the big one at Aintree, Saturday’s race has been something of an irrelevance as none of the last ten winners of this have been involved at the business end of the National. Indeed with this years renewal being run before the weights for the big race have even been published, one has to assume that Aintree in April will not be uppermost in connections minds.

However it is a very valuable and competitive affair which certainly stands on it’s own merits. As would be expected at Haydock this time of the year, with the surface invariably testing, Saturday’s trial is going to put a huge emphasis on stamina. All previous winners had winning form over at least three miles. Weight is also significant with only two, Silver by Nature, ( 2011 ) and Miko de Beauchene , ( 2008 ) managing to carry more than 11st to victory over the past decade. Both carried 11st12lbs. Lucinda Russell has been the most successful handler, scoring twice with Silver by Nature over the same period. Age has been no bar to success, with two eleven year olds and a ten year old winning in the last ten years, but significantly these older animals had been relatively lightly raced, contesting less than fourteen chases.

Paul Nicholls who won with Shotgun Willy in 2003, is represented by the current favourite, (5/1) and top weight Benvolio (11st 10lbs). He ran a super race in the Wesh National, where having disputed the lead for the entire distance (3m 5 1/2f), in stamina sapping conditions, he was just run out of it in the final stride, going down by a shd to Emperors Choice, with Saturday’s opponent Glenquest 2 1/2l back in third. Now 6lbs higher and 4lbs worse of with Glenquest, he has his work cut out on Saturday. However he has been given a six week break to recover from his Chepstow exertions and coming from this yard is hard to dismiss.

Nigel Twiston-Davies trains the lightly raced 10yo Benbens, who has had only nine races over fences and certainly looks interesting. He ran Saturday’s opponent, Samstown, to a nk over the course four weeks ago, ( 3m1f chase ) and meets that rival on 9lbs ( including Ryan Hatch’s 5lbs claim ) better terms on Saturday. He finished like a train to make up 5l from the last on the winner, and while some would argue that Samstown was idling in front, a 9lb pull looks significant and he is shortlisted. Samstown on the other hand, has no record of carrying big weights in handicaps and with a welter weight of 11st11lbs this out and out stayer is reluctantly passed over.

Having finished fourth in both the Hennessy and the Welsh National Michael Scudamore’s Monbeg Dude deserves consideration . He is 8lbs better off with Benvolio for the 8 3/4L he was behind him at Chepstow, and this sometimes careless jumper, might well be suited by Haydocks less demanding obstacles. A winner of the Welsh National on heavy ground two years ago he certainly should’nt fail on the stamina front, but is another burdened with 11st11lbs.

Twice a course winner, David Pipe’s Broadway Buffalo certainly seems to enjoy the Lancashire air. He looked the finished article when trotting up over the course ( 3m hvy ) in December, off a mark of 129, only to disappoint six days later at Wetherby. He can easily be forgiven this lapse as in all probability the race came too soon. Being by a son of Theatrical, out of a Le Bavard mare, he is bred to stay all day, so returned to his favourite track ( two wins from two outings ) he is another for the shortlist.

Lucinda Russell runs the relatively lightly raced 11yo, Lie for It, who has raced eleven times over fences. He put up a strong staying performance at Kelso last time, ( 3m2f hvy ) beating a rejuvenated Harry the Viking by 2L. Both animals will appreciate the extra two furlongs at the weekend, particularly Sandy Thomson’s 10yo, who boasts a second in the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Certainly if the weather stays dry Harry the Viking on 5lbs better terms must have prospects of reversing the Kelso form.

Only 1lb higher than when finishing a close third in last years Scottish National, Tim Easterby’s Trustan Times looks well treated. A winner of the Cl 1 Gd3 fixed brush hurdle over the course a couple of seasons ago, ( £45,000. To the winner ) he hasn’t shown much in his three outings since his fine third in the Scottish race. However the stable has been badly out of form since October, and only recently has shown signs of a revival. Indeed the horse himself showed some promise last time at Musselburgh, so it would be no great surprise to see a prominent performance at the weekend.

Alpha Victor is an out and out stayer who has a 100 0/0 record over the course. He finished second off a mark of 138 in a 3m1f hurdle and races on Saturday off 133, giving him a nice racing weight of 11st. He thrives on heavy ground, so if conditions deteriorate,he would be well worth considering.

Gas Line Boy looked progressive when winning twice in November. He won off a mark of 128 at the beginning of November, and 18 days later hosed up by 13L from the subsequent Welsh National winner Emperors Choice over the course ( 3m5f ) off a mark of 132. He was pulled up in the Welsh National, possibly because of the attritional conditions, off a mark of 147, so doesn’t appear too badly treated off 142 on Saturday. Given decent ground at the weekend, another worth a second look.

Selection: Broadway Buffalo

E.W. :Benbens