Randox Health Grand National Handicap 4m2 1/2f Aintree Saturday

In the forty renewals of the great race, between 1958, when the Co Wicklow trained Mr What came home in front, and 1997, Irish yards only collected the prize on one other occasion, (the Dan Moore trained L’Escargot in 1975) but in the twenty runnings since, stables from across the Irish Sea have been responsible for more than a third of the winners, (Bobbyjo 1999, papillon 2000 Monty’s Pass2003, Hedgehunter 2005, Number Six Valverde2006 Silver Birch 2007, and Rule The World two years ago. This is clearly a very significant trend so any contenders from The Emerald Isle need to be treated with plenty of respect, perhaps none more so than current market leader, Total Recall.

Trained in Co Carlow by master handler, Willie Mullins, (who won with Hedgehunter in 2005) the 9yo son of Westerner certainly has plenty to recommend him. He was campaigned until this season mainly around 2 1/2m, with only limited success, (a single victory from his first six races over fences). It is only since he started tackling longer distances last October, that Total Recall’s career has really taken off, culminating in a superb victory in The Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury, ( The Hennessy Handicap until 2017 ) last December. Having won his previous race, a 3m Limerick Handicap very easily from Alpha Des Obeaux off a mark of 129, he was sent off the well backed 9/2 favourite in the 20 runner field for the Newbury classic. Racing off an eighteen pounds higher mark for the 3m2f contest, he duly obliged in the style of a real stayer, keeping on strongly from the last to collar the talented Whisper on the line. Reverting to hurdles two months later, he won a Leopardstown 3m Handicap easily prior to his latest race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sent off a 14/1 chance, he was responding to pressure from pilot, David Mullins, to go into 6th place with four to jump, but unfortunately came down at the third last. We will never know what might have happened had he stood up, but there was still petrol left in the tank and I suppose the fall saved him from having too hard a race. He had only fallen once before, (his first race over fences) so this progressive staying chaser, although 9lbs higher than for the Ladbroke Trophy, with 11-4 on his back on Saturday doesn’t look overburdened, and could just make it number two for Willie.

One who did have a hard race at the Cheltenham Festival was the gallant 8yo Shantou Flyer. Runner up in his three previous races, he looked as if he might break the sequence under a good ride from the excellent young James Bowen ( and would have done so in another few strides) when mugged by Coo Star Sivola in The Ultima Handicap. He was pulled up in last year’s National as a 7yo when trained by Rebecca Curtis, but is a much stronger and more mature animal now, and he was staying on stoutly in the 3m1f Ultima on dreadful ground on the first day of The Cheltenham Festival. His pedigree, (by Shantou out of the Bob Back mare Carrigmona Flyer) shouts stamina, and having had thirty two days to get over his Festival effort, he looks nicely handicapped racing off the same mark, giving him a racing weight of 11-1 and at current odds around 40/1 this veteran of 24 chases, who has only ever fallen once, looks one to be interested in.

The Gordon Elliot trained Ucello Conti was going well enough in mid division when unseating at Beechers on the second circuit last year, and runs this time off a 2lbs lower mark, giving him a nice racing weight of 10-9. His Uber shrewd trainer has only given him the two runs since last year’s effort, finishing second to Saturday’s opponent Anibale Fly at Leopardstown in December, and pulled up on heavy ground in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park the following month. He is owned by one of the most successful partnerships on the National Hunt scene, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede and it would come as no surprise to see the 10yo involved on Saturday.

The above mentioned Anibale Fly did best of the Irish contenders in the Gold Cup, finishing third, 8 1/2L behind Native River. While he couldn’t go the pace of the first two, Tony Martins 8yo stayed on well to hold on to third place. Given a revised rating of 168 following that Gold Cup effort he gets to race off his previous mark of 159 in this early closing contest giving him 11-7 to carry. His sire Assessor is a big influence for stamina and his legendary owner J.P. McManus would love to bag a second Grand National.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Blaklion ran a marvellous race in last year’s renewal finishing in 4th place. He looked the most likely winner approaching the 2nd from home but took a bump, and was headed between the last two. Slightly hampered at the last he stayed on but lost third place near the line. He ran another fine race over the National fences when winning The Becher Chase, (3m2f) on heavy ground last December, beating The Last Samurai by 9L. Unfortunately this has led to a 9lbs rise in his rating to 161 giving him a racing weight of 11-9 at the weekend, a burden only carried once successfully (by Many Clouds three years ago) since the immortal Red Rum won with 12-0 on his back in 1974. That said his top trainer has won the great race twice before, with Earth Summit in 1998 and Bindaree four years later, so certainly knows what is required, and Blaklion is undoubtedly an improved performer this term.

The David Pipe trained 9yo Vieux Lion Rouge has an enviable record over the big Aintree fences having completed in all four attempts. He was 6th in last year’s National, 7th the year before, finished 7th behind Blaklion in the Beecher Chase last December and won the previous year’s renewal of that same contest. Presumably with the National in mind he has only had one run since early December, finishing a respectable 4th in an Ascot Handicap (17Feb 3mSoft). He will strip a fresh horse on Saturday and off a 2lbs lower mark than last year it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see the prize go back to Pond House in Somerset for a third time. (Miinnehoma 1994 Comply Or Die 2008).

Selection: Total Recall

E.W. : Shantou Flyer and Ucello Conti

John Gray

Liz Adam Memorial Handicap Chase 3m 2f Kelso Saturday

With the big Aintree Jamboree scheduled for next week it’s not surprising that this Saturday’s fare is of a fairly low order, but lovely Kelso, in The Scottish Borders, does host their biggest meeting of the year, so let’s hope the awful weather relents, and allows this interesting card to go ahead. The most valuable heat of the day is the Liz Adam Memorial Handicap Chase over 3m2f, and with heavy ground a near certainty, stamina is going to be the order of the day.

One who will love the conditions is last year’s winner, Yala Enki (pictured). In a small field of only seven runners, he won by 7L from the re-opposing Seldom Inn. yala-enki-oddsguruHowever, it was all downhill for the Venetia Williams trained 8yo in his next five races, until getting his act together at the sixth time of asking, he came home 54L clear of Blaklion on atrocious ground in a Haydock Grade3 Chase, (3m4 1/2f Heavy) in February. He also ran well enough last time, finishing 6th of eighteen runners behind Coo Star Sivola at The Cheltenham Festival. There is plenty in his favour but it’s worth noting that his win in last year’s renewal was achieved off a relatively light campaign, (only one run in the previous three months) whereas this time he has had four tough races on attritional winter ground in the same timespan, and he is racing off a 6lbs higher mark.

With three wins, and three places from seven starts at Kelso, the course record of last year’s runner up, the Sandy Thomson trained Seldom Inn, speaks for itself. He has been mostly campaigned at around three miles but did show in last year’s contest, and more recently, when finishing a close 2nd in a Kelso 3m2f Hurdle on heavy ground that Saturday’s trip is within his compass. Off a 6lbs lower mark, (12lbs better off with Yala Enki), he has a good chance of keeping the prize in Scotland.

The Nicky Richards (pictured) trained Baywing could only manage 4th in last year’s renewal, finishing 11L behind Yala Enki off a mark of 147. Put away for the season, he failed to shine in any of his first four races this term, but, dropped to a mark of 140 last time, he looked much more the finished article when winning the valuable Eider Chase by 4L from West Of The Edge at Newcastle. Nicky-Richards-oddsguruThe handicapper has done him no favours, raising him to a mark of 149, but this will be partially offset by regular partner, Ryan Day’s 3lbs claim. He looked a more assured jumper in the Eider, and as a horse who has had the pace to win over hurdles at 2 1/2m, the drop back in trip shouldn’t be a problem. Looks one for the shortlist!

The Donald McCain trained mare, Lastbutnotleast, has got quite a progressive look about her. The 8yo has won a PTP, a Bumper, and all three of her races over hurdles including at Class1 level over 3m1/2f (Doncaster Soft). Her three races over fences have been a mixed bag, pulled up in her first, winning her second by 36L and trailing in last in her third. Both defeats can be relatively easily explained, as the first of them was her first run for nearly ten months, and the second followed in a race, where in all probability she hadn’t recovered from her win on truly attritional ground only 24 days earlier, ( despite her winning margin of 36L, she finished legless ). She has had a nice 74 days break since, and looks quite well treated on a mark of 135 giving her a racing weight of 10-9 for this her handicap debut. A slight concern would be Saturday’s trip as her dam, the useful Lakill Princess was best at around 2m on soft/heavy ground. However her sire, Flemensfirth is a strong influence for stamina.

As well as Baywing, Nicky Richards also has the 9yo Takingrisks entered here, and if taking up the engagement, (also entered in the 3m2f Hurdle race on the card) would have to be of interest. With two wins, both on heavy ground, from three Kelso appearances, he clearly likes the venue, and added to his appeal last time when staying on strongly to beat Saturday’s opponent, Indy Five, by 2 1/4L. (Ayr 3mHeavy) four weeks ago off a mark of 127. He is only 4lbs higher on Saturday giving him the nice racing weight of 10-4, and although he has never won beyond 3m1f the way he put that Ayr contest to bed would strongly suggest that the step up in trip will suit.

The ex French trained Chic Name put in a great performance that certainly belied his odds of 100/1 when finishing 5th in the sixteen runner 3m6f Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.He was still there with a shout at the second last but could only stay on at the one pace. Mild heat stress was diagnosed post race making his effort even more commendable, and it may well be that the 6yo’s future career lies over staying trips. With only 10-4 on his back, and ace 3lbs claimer, James Bowen booked, he’s definitely worth a second look.

Selection : Baywing

E.W. : Chic Name

John Gray

Racing Tips Betfred Ebor Handicap 1m6f York Saturday

First run in 1843 The Ebor Handicap is now the richest race of it’s type run anywhere in Europe, and this year carries a guaranteed prize fund of £285,000. The legendary Lester Piggott (pictured) won the race five times, but the closest any rider has come to matching

“The Long Fellow’s” record in recent years, is Jamie Spencer, with two victories. Any contenders from the yards of Sir Michael Stoute or Luca Cumani, who share the training honours with three victories apiece, are worth noting, as are any travellers from across The Irish Sea, as Four of the last eight winners have been trained in The Emerald Isle. The market in recent years has been a poor guide with only the one “Jolly” obliging in the last decade, and indeed, only two of those winners were returned at odds shorter than 10/1. Good recent form has been paramount with eight of the last nine victors recording a first or second placing in one of their last two races. Weight as ever, has had it’s say, with none of the last nine winners carrying more than 9-04, and indeed, only two horses have won with a bigger burden since 1945. However it is worth pointing out that in more recent renewals the handicap has become much more compressed, leaving a much narrower weight range, and consequently the higher weighted animals have less poundage to concede, so it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise to see the 9-04 barrier broken.

Sir Mlchael Stoute’s representative, the 4yo filly Dubka, is certainly bred for the job on Saturday, as she is by the brilliant Dubawi out of the Sakhee mare Rosika, who herself finished second in the 2010 running of the Ebor. Four times a winner over 12f, Dubka, seemed to take her form to a new level when stepped up in trip to 14f, when she was only beaten a hard fought neck in a Goodwood Group3 last time. Having had a far from clear passage, she was ridden to lead a furlong out, and hard pressed, she battled hard, and only conceded in the shadow of the post. With 9-02 to carry on Saturday it won’t come as any great surprise if she manages to go one better than her dam, and give Sir Michael a fourth win in the famous old handicap.

Sir Mark Prescott trains the market leader, Flymetothestars, and this 4yo son of Sea The Stars, has only had five runs, all on the AW. He won the first of his two races this term, a 2m1/2f Newcastle handicap off a mark of 91 very comfortably, and six weeks later, racing off a 9lbs higher mark, was sent off the 11/4fav for The Northumberland Plate. In a slowly run race, he seemed to get outpaced, but finished with a flourish, and was only beaten 1/2L and a neck. Clearly progressive, this lightly raced animal, if transferring his ability to turf is going to be a danger to all.

Since being stepped up in trip to 12f, the Richard Hannon trained Danehill Kodiac has made significant progress and the manner of his win in a Newmarket handicap by 3 1/2L a week ago , off a mark of 97 on soft ground, strongly suggests that Saturday’s extra two furlongs should suit. Only 4lbs higher he is certainly worth a second look.

Mark Johnston won The Ebor with Quick Ransom twenty five years ago and the way his hardy campaigner, Soldier In Action, defied a mark of 106 in a 14f Goodwood handicap three weeks ago, suggests that he has a serious chance of landing another. A close fifth entering the final furlong, he quickened impressively to lead in the final stride, and even off a four pounds higher mark, burdening him with the steadier of 9-10 at the weekend it is not too hard to envisage this 4yo son of Soldier Of Fortune repeating the effort.

Following a disappointing campaign over hurdles, the Alan King trained Top Tug looked an improved animal back on the flat when finishing second, off a mark of 97 to the talented Frontiersman over 12f at Newmarket in May, and he confirmed that good impression when taking a 14f Goodwood handicap three weeks later off a 2lbs higher mark. He probably found the trip too short in the 12f Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at The Royal Meeting next time, but still acquitted himself well, finishing fourth, a neck behind Saturday’s opponent Star Storm. He meets Star Storm on a pound better terms on Saturday and sure to be suited by the step back up in trip, and freshened up with a nice nine week break since Royal Ascot, Top Tug looks one for the short list.

There is nothing Yorkshireman Willie Haggas enjoys more than a win on The Knavesmire and he must be harbouring serious hopes of landing his first Ebor with the classy 4yo

Dal Harraild. Having won a listed contest over course and distance in May on his only course appearance, he ran another solid race when finishing sixth, four lengths behind the winner Idaho, in the Group2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. Despite his burden of 9-11, this son of Champs Elysee has a touch of class and bearing his 100% course record in mind is worth considering.

Selection : Top Tug

E.W. : Dubka

John Gray

Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Tips

Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Swinton Hurdle) 1m 7 1/2f Haydock Saturday

Last week’s selection in the 1000gns, Lumiere, ran no sort of race, and looked as if she didn’t stay, but fortunately, our E.W. selection, Alice Springs ran a super race to finish 3rd at odds of 16/1. She has grown into a big impressive looking filly and with her pedigree is certainly one to keep in mind when tackling further. (The Irish Oaks?)

We are back over the sticks this week with a look at the Swinton Hurdle and it looks a wide open contest.

Philip Hobbs, who has won the race twice before, (including last year) has three entries and at the time of writing the two to concentrate on are last year’s hero, War Sound, and Wait For Me. The former took last year’s renewal off a mark of 140 when a well supported 6/1 chance but is now 8lbs higher, and hasn’t run since finishing down the field at Newbury on heavy ground in mid February. Saturday’s ground should be much more suitable, and it is a race where previous winners have performed well on their return, so his chance is respected.

Wait For Me ran a fine race in The County Hurdle at the Festival for a novice, having only his fourth run over the smaller obstacles. Backed in to 7/1 joint favourite from 11/1 on the day, he was held up towards the rear, crept into the contest, and stayed on to finish 4th. The hurly burly of Saturday’s contest should hold no fears for him, and off the same mark as Cheltenham, has a lot to recommend him.

Welsh maestro, Evan Williams has also trained the winner twice, in 2014 and 2013, and indeed his 2013 winner Barizan was placed 2nd last year. It would seem that Williams targets the race so his contender John Constable is of special interest. This decent flat racer, (rated92) put up an eye catching performance on only his third run over hurdles at Newbury last November. In a Class1 handicap he finished 2nd to Sternrubin and had Saturday’s opponent, and likely favourite Ch’tibello five lengths back in third. John Constable has disappointed in his two subsequent races but the yard has been badly out of form. He now meets Ch’tibello on 3lbs better terms than Newbury, and as the stable has had a winner this Tuesday he’s one to keep on the right side of.

The Paul Webber trained 5yo novice Gwafa was taking a huge step up in class when contesting the Grade1 novice hurdle at Aintree but was badly hampered at the 4th and unseated his rider. He had won his two previous races very easily at Fakenham and Huntingdon,so this 92 rated flat racer may have got in lightly off a mark of 137 and is worth a second look.

Paul Nicholls has never won the race but seems to be making a serious attempt with three runners this year. His 5yo, All Yours, probably represents his best chance of correcting this particular blot on the Nicholls C.V. The winner of the Grade1 novices event at last years Aintree festival, (April 2015) he has had a very easy time of it since, running only twice. He was a well beaten 5th behind stablemate Irving at Wincanton in November, and wasn’t seen again until running in the County Hurdle in March where he ran better than his finishing place of 12th would indicate. Well suited by a flat track and reasonably treated off a mark of 145 it will come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end.

Robert Stephen’s 5yo Beltor has attracted some interest in the market and actually beat All Yours easily on only his second race over hurdles, at Kempton 14 months ago. His two subsequent efforts, in the 2015 Triumph Hurdle, and the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle last November, have been disappointing and I just wonder does he need to go right handed.

The other trainer who can boast two previous wins is Nicky Henderson and his 7yo Cardinal Walter, despite failing to hit the back of the net for 14 months is interesting. His win in a novice hurdle at Doncaster in Febuary 2015 was achieved with consummate ease and his 3rd to Saturday’s opponent Shrewd at Musselburgh this Febuary was a pretty decent effort. He meets the winner on 14lbs (excluding Shane Shortalls 5lbs claim on the winner) for the 2 3/4L beating and as his jumping wasn’t the most fluent things could be a lot closer between them on Saturday.

Dan Skelton runs his Scottish Champion Hurdle winner, Ch’tibello and he must have a serious chance off just a 6lbs higher mark. At Ayr he showed a great change of gears between the bypassed third, and second last flights, and despite a mistake at the last the result was never in doubt. This was his first run for five months so further improvement can be expected, and with Saturday’s ground likely to be even more suitable he has an awful lot going for him.

Selection : Ch’tibello

E.W. : All Yours

Racing Betting Tips Bet 365 Gold Cup 3m5 1/2f Sandown Saturday

Warren Greatrex

Warren Greatrex’s prolific scoring hunter chaser, Paint The Clouds will think he’s loose with just 10st on his back, having been used to humping around 12st and more in the amateur division.

The race was first run as the Whitbread Gold Cup in 1957 at the instigation of the Brewers chairman, Colonel Bill Whitbread, who as an amateur had ridden in two Grand Nationals. The first commercial sponsorship in British sport, the race continued under the Whitbread banner until 2002. The race’s roll of honour boasts six Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Pas Seul (1961), Arkle (1965), What a Myth (1966), Mill House (1967), The Dikler (1974), and Desert Orchid (1988). Alas the Wonderful grey was the last Cheltenham hero to collect at Sandown, but perhaps the 2013 Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth may have something to say about that on Saturday. It is highly unlikely that the legendary Fulke Walwyns record of seven victories in the contest will ever be equalled, but Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, and Philip Hobbs, with two wins each, have certainly got a record to be proud of.

Henderson, who won last years renewal with the 7yo, Hadrians Approach, is represented on Saturday by his 2013 Gold Cup Winner, Bobs Worth, and has been given a real chance by the handicapper. Rated as high as 180 in the past, He races off a mark of 159 at the weekend. He has been very disappointing since his win in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December 2013, but it is worth noting that the last time He ran on good ground, (2014 Gold Cup) He did run a decent race, beaten only 4L. It is interesting that his highly talented trainer is persevering with him, so perhaps Saturday’s less demanding test may bring about a revival.

Market leader, (9/1) at the time of writing, is the Emma Lavelle trained 7yo Milan gelding, Le Reve, and he does seem to have a lot going for him. Particularly well suited by going right handed, (5 wins 4 places from 12 runs) He has an enviable record at Sandown, where He has won twice, and been placed twice from six course appearances. He ran a fine race at Ascot in December, finishing 4L behind the very progressive The Young Master, and then beat that good yardstick Theatrical Star easily over the course six weeks later, off a mark of 139. Second to the talented Rocky Creek, (with whom he is 8lbs better off on Saturday) he was put away with the weekend contest in mind. He has never won on good ground, (only 2 runs) but his sires offspring like it, so it shouldn’t be an issue. A slight reservation would be the stables lack of form but with jockey of the moment Leighton Aspell in the plate He is definitely one for the short list.

With his exceptional record in the race, Philip Hobbs’s Duke of Lucca is worth a second look. This is certainly his time of year, with his last four wins having come in either March or April, and he will be well suited by Saturday’s forecast good ground. He stayed on with great reseloution two weeks ago over the Mildmay course at the aintree festival to deny Your Busy, and the Nicholls trained Wonderful Charm, by a nk and a nk. He meets Wonderful Charm on the same terms on Saturday, so if fully recovered from his Liverpool exertions, with only a featherweight of 10st. To carry (He is 1lb overweight) is worth considering.

Warren Greatrex’s prolific scoring hunter chaser, Paint The Clouds will think he’s loose with just 10st on his back, having been used to humping around 12st and more in the amateur division. He ran well in the Fox Hunters at the Cheltenham festival finishing third to the runaway winner On The Fringe. He couldn’t match Nora Carberry’s mount for speed from the last, but as the winner repeated the dose at Liverpool, it was certainly no disgrace. He is another animal who reserves his best for the Spring and Early Summer, (9 wins from March to June) likes good ground, and stays forever, so with his nice racing weight is another for the short list.

Henry de Bromhead’s 7yo Grand Jesture belied his odds of 25/1 when running the hugely progressive The Druids Nephew to 3 3/4L at the Cheltenham festival, off a mark of 143, on only his 7th start over fences. He ran like an improving stayer at Prestbury park, so off a mark only 4lbs higher and ridden by the very promising 3lb claimer JJ Burke He is well worth considering.

Selection: Le Reve.

E.W. : Paint The Clouds.

Betting Preview Betfair Hurdle Newbury Saturday

Betting Preview Betfair Hurdle Newbury Saturday

The winner of his last three races, and trained by the Welsh maestro Evan Williams, the 7yo On Tour, is definitely of interest.

Known as the Schweppes Hurdle since it’s inception in 1963 until 1986, it’s early years were dominated by the legendary Captain Ryan Price, and his equally famous jockey Josh Gifford, who won four of the first five runnings.

Historically weight has been a serious issue, with only ten contestants since 1980 managing to carry more than 11st. While Persian War lumped 11st13lbs in 1970 to victory, only Make a Stand, ( 1997 ) the subsequent Champion Hurdle winner, and Copeland ( 2002 ) have managed to win carrying 11st7lbs.

However it is worth noting that two of the last three winners,Zarkandar ( 2012 ) and My Tent Or Yours, (2013 ) did break the 11st barrier. Age has also been significant with eight of the last ten renewals going to a 5yo or 6yo. Gary Moore has been the most successful trainer over the past ten runnings, with two wins, Heathcote 2007, and Wingman 2008. Messrs Twiston-Davies, Henderson , Nicholls, Quinn, and O’Neill, have hit the target once, and the Irish have collected twice. Good recent form is important with four of the last six winners having won their previous race. The other two were placed.

Top weight Sign of a Victory, from the Henderson yard, looked a world beater, when cruising home at Ascot in November of a mark of 139, but then flopped in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, trailing in 31L behind the brilliant Faugheen. While excuses can be made, (first run for eight weeks) it is difficult to envisage him being the first since the great Persian War, to carry top weight to victory on Saturday. Hendersons second string Vasco de Ronceray looked a progressive type when winning easily at Haydock in November off a mark of 135. Raised to a mark of 143 on Saturday he is set to carry a challenging looking 11st 6lbs, but in the care of N Henderson, is worth a second look.

The winner of his last three races, and trained by the Welsh maestro Evan Williams, the 7yo On Tour, is definitely of interest. A winner of a small handicap at Stratford in October ( 2ml 3f ) off a mark of 122, he had no trouble defying a 9lbs rise at Haydock ( 2ml 4f ) in a much better race four weeks later. Raised another 7lbs for Saturday, giving him a racing weight of 11st 1lb he looks well handicapped. His ability to stay beyond Saturday’s distance is a further plus. One for the shortlist!

The Paul Nicholls trained 5yo Calipto, is favourite at the time of writing, but to date has been dissappointing. There have been valid excuses, as in the Triumph Hurdle, he did seem to be travelling best of all, when his stirrup leather broke at the second last, and he finished fourth, 8 3/4L behind Tiger Roll. Despite starting favourite at Aintree three weeks later, he finished third, 4L behind the Triumph 3rd Guitar Pete. He again failed on his reappearance, beaten 1/2L by Tiger Roll, from whom he was receiving 8lbs. Diagnosed with a breathing problem, he has had surgery, so it remains to be seen if this solves the problem, and elicits some improvement. The jury is out!

Winner of last year’ss Adonis Hurdle at Kempton Park, the Harry Fry trained 5yo Activial, has many of the requisite credentials for this. He ran a fine race in the highly competitive 18 runner Ladbroke at Ascot before Christmas, where despite stumbling, and losing his momentum at the second last, he got himself together, and only went down by a couple of lengths. He has been raised another 6lbs for Saturday, giving him a weighty looking 11st 6lbs to shoulder, but coming from this yard, must be seriously considered.

Dan Skelton’s lightly raced 7yo Fascino Rustico was in the process of running a very promising race of a mark of 126 at Ayr last April, only to tip over at the second last. Not seen again until January this year, he has won both his races, novice’s hurdles, at Bangor and Newcastle, with his head in his chest. Confidence fully restored, now racing off 135, it would be no surprise to see him involved on Saturday.

David pipe’s pair of 8yo’s Balgarry and Swing Bowler are worth a second look. Having only his second run for nearly 34 months, Balgarry ran with great credit to finish a good second in a cl2 Sandown handicap off a mark of 132, four weeks ago. Raised just 5lbs for Saturday, this very lightly raced animal has plenty more improvement in him, and looks well handicapped on 11st. Having finished third to My Tent Or Yours in 2013 and fifth to Splash of Ginge last year, Pipes very useful mare is clearly well equipped for the demands of the race, and with a nice racing weight of 10st 12lbs is considered.

If getting a run,( needs a few to drop out above him in the handicap at the time of writing ) Garry Moore’s Violet Dancer, who was second in a Lingfield A.W. handicap two weeks ago, would be worth a second look.

Selection: On Tour.

E.W. Balgarry.

Racing Betting Preview BetBright Cup Chase

Racing Betting Preview BetBright Cup Chase. 3m1 1/2f Cheltenham Saturday

Oliver Sherwood’s 8yo Many Clouds made a highly satisfactory reappearance at Carlisle at the beginning of November when defeating the talented Eduard and Holywell in a class 1 chase, and then ran the race of his life when winning the Hennessy at Newbury four weeks later.

As only three winners of this, Kim Bailey’s Master Oats in 1995, Paul Nicholl’s See More Business in 1999, and Noel Chance’s Looks like Trouble in 2000, have gone on to victory in the Gold Cup itself it hasn’t been the greatest guide to success in March. However if all eight turn out on Saturday this years renewal looks the strongest for some years, and certainly contains some potential Gold Cup winners.

With three 9yos, four 10yos, and an 11yo veteran collecting in the last ten runnings experience obviously counts. Paul Nicholls has won the race twice over the same period, with Colin Tizzard, David Bridgwater , Jonjo O’Neill, and Nigel Twiston- Davis getting their name on the scoresheet once. While David Pipe and Alan King have failed to win, they have both had two runners placed, King being of particular interest, as he has had only two runners over the period. Course form is important with eight of the last ten winners having previously been successful at the track. ( The other two had strong place form ). The market has been a poor guide with none of the last nine Jollys obliging .

Despite failing to win over the course, Smad Place’s Cheltenham record is exemplary. Having been placed in two World Hurdles he ran the race of his career in last years R.S.A. Chase. There, in a race run nearly three seconds faster than standard, he took it up before two out, and hard pressed by the winner O’Faolain’s Boy from the last, in an epic struggle, he only gave best in the last stride. Put away for the rest of the season, he made his reappearance in the Hennessy at Newbury where he started a well fancied 6/1 shot. Although making some progress after the 17th he was never really in the hunt and finished tired, 20l behind Saturday’s opponent Many Clouds. His excellent trainer Alan King blamed himself for the poor showing, feeling that in retrospect, the horse would have benefited from a previous race before such a competitive event as the Hennessy. With very positive vibes now coming from the stable, and with a pull of 12lbs with Many Clouds, his chance is obvious on Saturday.

Twice placed, and three times a winner ( including this race last year ) over the course, David Bridgwater’s 10yo The Giant Bolster’s chance must be respected. After his heroics in last years Gold Cup ( 3rd btn 3/4l ) he reappeared at Wetherby at the beginning of November, and ran abysmally finishing tailed off last. He ran with more enthusiasm at Haydock three weeks later finishing 15l 5th to Silviniaco Conti. While further progress can be anticipated back at his favourite track, he is carrying the maximum penalty and has to concede weight to classy animals like Smad Place and Holywell, so perhaps a place is the best that can be hoped for.

Another set to shoulder the maximum penalty is Many Clouds, and few would argue that he is the animal with most potential in the field. Oliver Sherwood’s 8yo made a highly satisfactory reappearance at Carlisle at the beginning of November when defeating the talented Eduard and Holywell in a class 1 chase, and then ran the race of his life when winning the Hennessy at Newbury four weeks later. He ran out a most convincing winner staying on with great gusto from the last, to win by 3 3/4l from Houblon des Obeaux off a mark of 151, and went into many note books as a potential Gold Cup winner. He is a relentless galloper who stays extremely well and thrives in testing conditions, so should have conditions to suit on Saturday. The slight caveat would be his lack of course form, but he has only run at the track twice, and was going well enough when brought down at the 14th in the R.S.A. Chase. He has shown his versatility on a variety of tracks and I don’t envisage the course being a problem.

Paul Nicholls, who has been relentlessly firing in the Saturday winners, saddles the 8yo Black Thunder, an animal who has been slowly getting his act together. A faller in the R.S.A. Chase, he disappointed on his reappearance at Newton Abbot in October but ran well in a cl1 chase at Ascot ( Nov1 ) when a close 2nd off a mark of 149. He then trotted up in a four runner affair when odds on at Sandown. He is another burdened with the maximum penalty on Saturday so perhaps this winner of four of his eight chases may find Saturday’s test beyond him.

David Pipes’ 9yo Dynaste stayed on well in the King George V1 chase at Kempton to take 2nd behind his nemesis Silviniaco Conti, giving some encouragement to the view that he has more reserves of stamina than appeared to be the case previously. If this is true last years Ryan Air Chase winner would be a serious contender on Saturday as he ran on so well up that daunting hill in March.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Holywell impressed when winning a handicap at the festival of a mark of 145, and progressed again when taking the gd1 novices chase at Aintree by 10l from the very useful Don Cossack, a performance that led to talk of “Gold Cups” by some good judges. However his performances this season have been disappointing, unseating in his last race. Jonjo was badly out of form at the time, so it is far too early to write off this very promising animal. It would be no surprise to see a much improved performance on Saturday.

Selection: Many Clouds.

Danger: Smad Place.

Racing Betting Tips Betfred Classic Chase At Warwick

Shotgun Paddy

Last years winner, Shotgun Paddy is only 4lbs higher this time round so must be seriously considered.

First run as the Classic Chase in 2004, it originally was called the Warwick National Chase. With 3m 5f to travel and 22 of Warwicks tricky fences to negotiate it is not a race for the faint hearted and is a contest on the schedule of many Grand National aspirants. Interestingly no horse has managed the double to date. Weight has been no bar to success with four winners shouldering more than 11st in the past decade. There have been no winners younger than seven and the 11yo D’Argent has been the oldest animal to win in the same timespan. Alan King and Paul Nicholls have both trained two winners, with Colin Tizzard, Emma Lavelle, and Venetia Williams on the scoresheet once. Experience while desirable, is not essential. Baron Windrush and Eurotrek, winners in 2005 and 2006 had only competed in ten chases between them, and last years winner, Shotgun Paddy, was having only his fourth outing over the larger obstacles.

Philip Hobbs’s Return Spring with only three runs in chases has a somewhat similar profile in this years renewal, and at the time of writing heads the market at 5/1. A latecomer to chasing, he has performed with credit in his last two races. Last time he ran third to the highly promising Kings Palace and his own stable companion Sausalito Sunrise at Cheltenham in December, having previously got the better of Highland Retreat in a 3ml novices chase on heavy ground at Exeter. However both races were four runner affairs, so it remains to be seen how he copes with Saturday’s large field. On the plus side judging from his breeding ( by Vinnie Roe out of a Supreme Leader mare ) and his racecourse appearances, he is all about stamina, so should be well served by Saturday’s likely conditions.

Last years winner, Shotgun Paddy is only 4lbs higher this time round so must be seriously considered. In last years renewal he beat that hardy old warrior Carruthers, ( 11lbs better off this year ) by 6l and went on to run a marvellous race in the 4ml amateur chase at the Cheltenham festival going down by a hd to Midnight Prayer. Brought along slowly by his excellent trainer, Emma Lavelle, he was having only his second run since Cheltenham, when nearly capsizing at the 2nd in the Welsh National. He was pulled up five fences later, and in view of the awful ground this may well have been a blessing in disguise. Definitley one for the short list!

Martin Keighley’s Benbane Head ran a fine race four weeks ago. The evergreen 11yo stayed on strongly up the Cheltenham hill to draw clear of the well backed favourite The Ould Lad to win by 9l off a mark of 127. He is up a quite severe looking 8lbs on Saturday, but will have the benefit of Conor Shoemarks 3lbs claim. While he did win a bumper on heavy ground, testing conditions, one feels would be against him.

Oliver Sherwood’s Global Power has a nice racing weight of 10st7lbs and looks well treated. Having his first run for 12 months, and probably needing it he was beaten 7l by Ballyoliver at Carlisle. He is 6lbs better off on Saturday so must have good prospects of reversing the form, particularly as he improved again to run Theatrical Star to a nk at Fontwell despite making a mistake at the last. Given testing conditions at the weekend he is well worth considering.

Alan Kings 2011 winner, the 13yo West End Rocker is another defying old Father Time. He showed that he still has what it takes when winning a veterans race when ploughing through the mud at Lingfield in December off a mark of 135. Despite a 4lb rise he is only 6lbs higher than 2011 and as his trainer reports him to be in top condition he is another to consider.

Venetia William’s 10yo Rigadin de Beauchene has to defy a 21lbs higher mark than when successful in 2013. He has not run for nearly nine months but did win a cl1 gd3 chase at Haydock last Febuary very easily off a mark of131 after a similar break. He is obviously an animal that goes well fresh but having been pulled up in four of his last races and now racing off 143 he is hard to recommend. Perhaps the stables best chance is with their other runner Ballyoliver.

Selection: Shotgun Paddy.

E.W : Global Power.

Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle Betting Tips Ascot

Nick Henderson race horse trainer.

Our racing guru fancies Nicky Henderson’s Sign of a Victory to go close in Saturday’s Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle.

Since its inception in 2001 there have been only nine renewals of this highly competitive race at its Ascot venue. It was abandoned in 2009 and 2010 due to snow, and was run elsewhere in 2004 and 2005 due to course redevelopment. Nicky Henderson has been the most successful trainer with three wins. Five year olds have been the winning most age group with five successes. Two six year olds, one seven year old, and one four year old have also hit the back of the net. This stat may be a little misleading as four year olds have been very much to the fore in recent runnings. The market hasn’t been a great guide with only one favourite (Henderson’s Jack The Giant 2007) obliging, and two 25/1 shots winning.

Harry Fry’s 4yo Activial leads the market at 5/1 having been backed in from twice these odds since last weekend. He was a convincing winner of the Adonis hurdle at Newbury last Febuary, but then disappointed in his next engagement at Aintree in April where he was probably unsuited by the sharp track. However the Newbury form has worked out well with the runner up Commissioned ( beaten 3 1/2L ) winning twice this season, achieving a rating of 140, making Activial’s Mark of 137 on Saturday, look rather generous. His lack of a recent pipe opener and indeed experience ( has had only 3 hurdle races), may count against him, but with the very talented Mr Fry in charge and carrying the nice racing weight of 10st10lbs he is short listed.

With his three previous winners Nicky Henderson certainly knows what is required, so his very promising 5yo Sign of a Victory is worth serious consideration. In only his fifth race over hurdles ( Ascot 2ml. Nov1 ) he came home on the bridle in what was a truly run race,of a mark of 139. He has been raised what appears a quite harsh 11lbs to 150 but it will be no surprise if he ends the season racing off a considerably higher mark. Ground conditions on Saturday are a concern as he had been an intended runner in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle but was taken out because of the soft ground. However I can’t see Saturday’s likely gd/sft being a problem for this son of Kayf Tara out of a Bob Back mare, and unless conditions really deteriorate should have every chance.

Having performed with credit in a number of top handicaps Gordon Elliott’s 5yo Bayan is already a seasoned campaigner. He ran a great race to be third in the Coral Cup at the Festival, and improved again,coming second in the Galway Hurdle. However the handicapper has had his say and he is now 8lbs higher than Cheltenham. He probably needs testing conditions at two miles so if it does come up soft he is well worth a second look.

Dan Skelton’s 5yo Galileo gelding Shelford has won his last two races and is another who wouldn’t mind it testing on Saturday. Rated 89 on the flat he has made a highly successful transition to the winter game and was quite impressive in his first handicap ( 2 1/2 mls sft Chepstow ) at the end of October, where off a mark of 127 he made all and kept on very gamely to beat Aubusson by 3/4L. As the runner up went on to win the £80,000. Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock, Shelford’s 7lbs rise seems more than fair. He travels well in his races so it would be no surprise to see him leading the field over the last on Saturday.

Garde La Victoire and Clondaw Warrior are closely matched on Cheltenham form in November and the progressive Hobbs horse is fancied to come out on top again. Clondaw Warrior is 3lb better of for the 2L he was beaten but Garde La Victoire has the more progressive profile and indeed must have every chance of being involved at the business end.

Tony Martins 4yo Pyromaniac finished a well beaten 3rd at Cheltenham in November but had shown considerable potential in his previous two runs at Listowel and Killarney. Coming from this stable, this very lightly raced and unexposed animal could easily spring a surprise.

Jonjo O’Neill’s good flat horse Goodwood Mirage showed he was getting his act together when winning at Wetherby in October. Quietly fancied for the Triumph hurdle, he was brought down at the second and is definitely one to note if there is any market confidence.

Selection. Sign of a Victory.

E.W. Shelford.

Best Bets For Badger Ales Trophy Wincanton

Horseracing Tips Badger Ales Trophy Wincanton

Best Bets For Badger Ales Trophy Wincanton

One who should be taken very seriously indeed is Neil Mulholland’s progressive chaser The Young Master.

Always very competitive this 3ml 1 1/2f handicap chase has been dominated in recent years by the Nicholls and Pipe stables, who between them have won eight of the last ten runnings.

Paul Nicholls is represented this year by the two second season chasers, Just A Par, and Benvolio. The former would seem to be his best chance of adding to his previous successes. If Just A Par could reproduce the form he showed when beating First Intention at Newbury by 14l last November he would look well treated here off a mark of 143. However he disappointed in his next three races, particularly the last of them where he finished 52l behind Holywell at Aintree in April. He does seem to be suited by testing conditions so coming from this stable, particularly if conditions deteriorate , it would come as no surprise to see him involved at the sharp end on Saturday.

Last year’s winner Standing Ovation, represents the Pipe stable and comes here off a promising first run of the season at Cheltenham three weeks ago. Considered to be a better animal going right handed his second to Roalco de Farges at left handed Cheltenham was very encouraging. He is racing off a mark 11lbs higher than last year but still has a nice racing weight of 10st 13lbs. One reservation about his chance on Saturday would be a lot of rain, as both his previous record and his breeding ( by Presenting ) would suggest that top of the ground conditions are preferred. Given a dry week he must have a very serious chance.

Another of Saturday’s contenders who definitley needs it to stay dry is Alan Kings Pantxoa. He has been running well all summer and looked very reseloute when stepping up to 3ml 3f two weeks ago where over the course he won off a mark of 139. If it stays dry he is worth considering of a mark of 143 on Saturday.

Emma Lavelle’s Court by Surprise ran a nice trial for this when beating According to Trev very easily at Exeter seventeen days ago. He has been raised a severe looking 9lbs for Saturday, but having performed so well in last years renewal, when finishing third, he is still considered.

Harry Fry who is in such scintillating form runs Opening Batsman whom, if recapturing his form of Febuary 2013 would look very well treated indeed. Any strong market moves should be noted, but perhaps a watching brief for the moment is the best advice.

One who should be taken very seriously indeed is Neil Mulholland’s progressive chaser The Young Master. This 5yo won his first chase, a cl4 at Worcester at the end of September by 27l from Master of Milan,and then upped in class,he took a competitive looking amateur handicap at Cheltenham three weeks ago by 4 1/2L from Charwingworth with that good yardstick Balbriggan, a further 4L back in third. Raised 9lbs for Saturday, this highly progressive horse to whom all ground comes alike looks well treated and is one for the short list.

Colin Tizzard’s Golden Chieftain would be well suited by plenty of rain.

He ran with plenty of promise in the same race as Standing Ovation at Cheltenham on his reappearance three weeks ago where he finished 12L behind him. He was still in contention until tiring between the last two fences and is bound to have come on for the race. If the ground does come up soft it is not hard to envisage him being involved.

Tim Vaughan’s Ackertac is an interesting runner. In a twenty three runner handicap at the Cheltenham festival he finished 2L behind Standing Ovation to whom he was giving 11lbs. He made a satisfactory reappearance three weeks ago over an inadequate 2 1/2ml and is now 6lbs better off with Standing Ovation for the 2L at the festival. Another worth considering!

Win Selection. The Young Master and E.W. Ackertac .