HORSE RACING: Leading pundit Charlie McCann gives his latest weekend racing preview. This week the former Talksport tipster focuses on the cards at Sandown, Haydock and Ripon
The Bet 365 Gold Cup (3.05) at Sandown Park is the big betting race of the weekend but it looks a pretty ordinary renewal of what was once one of the big handicaps of the jumps season.
The weights are headed by teenager Monkerhostin who won the corresponding prize in 2008 and it would be a wonderful story if he could follow up for Philip Hobbs who has saddled the winner twice in the last four years. Marginal preference is for last year’s Scottish National winner Hello Bud who can go well at a decent price.
Fifth in the Aintree Grand National at the beginning of the month it is possible that a fortnight is not a sufficient period of recuperation but he is taken to crown a wonderful end of season for the Twiston-Davies yard. At his best he is an excellent jumper of a fence and his young partner got a great tune out of him over the unique Aintree fences.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls was out of luck in Punchestown earlier in the week with Twist Magic refusing to race and Denman jumping violently out to the left but the former is given the opportunity to redeem his tarnished reputation at his favourite track this afternoon in the Celebration Chase at 2.30.
A three-time course winner Twist Magic could easily give Champion trainer another big winner on the final day of the 2009-10 jumps season, but having planted himself at the start in Ireland he makes no appeal as a betting proposition. For information the 2010-11 jumps season starts tomorrow at Wetherby & Ludlow!
Paco Boy gave weight and a beating to his rivals in last year’s Bet 365 Mile (3.40) but despite winning a Group 1 race last summer he escapes a penalty for this afternoon’s race and must take the beating although at the time of writing it is suggested he is not certain to take his chance.
That said the unbeaten Prince Of Dance is the apple of trainer Tom Dascombe’s eye and if he learns to settle in his races he could become a top-class animal over a mile this summer.
Local trainer Eric Alston likes to have winners at Haydock Park and Diman Waters can go one better than last time when finishing runner up at Musselburgh.
Talking of Scotland I have spent the last few days in Perth at the StanJames.com Festival and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Keep an eye out for Caulkin who looked a most progressive sort in the weeks to come.
The Only Boss (2.15) won two of three juvenile starts for William Haggas and Jamie Spencer travels to Ripon for just one booked mount (also rides at Haydock this evening). I suggest we take the hint given the jockey rode the colt when he broke his maiden at Newcastle back in September. He merits the nap of the weekend. I am still coming to terms with how last week’s nap Nikos Extra (11/4 from 7s) failed to land the gamble at Ayr.
The StanJames.com Guineas festival is next weekend’s highlight and the midweek confirmation that Kieren Fallon would partner Seta (6/1 from 9/1) and not the Nell Gwyn winner Music Show had the 1000 Guineas market in meltdown. St Nicholas Abbey remains 13/8 favourite to give Aidan O’Brien a sixth winner of the 2000 Guineas and the vibes coming out of Ballydoyle suggest he could be something quite special.