Former Talksport presenter Charlie McCann marks your card for saturday’s racing at Chepstow (inc Welsh National), Wincanton and Sandown.
The rearranged Welsh National is today’s feature from Chepstow having failed to beat the freeze over Xmas. The lightly-raced Watamu Bay would be a confident selection if the race were run on a right-handed track but he did show a marked tendency to jump out to his right when beaten at the Welsh track earlier in the season and he is overlooked.
Preference is for Maktu (1.45) who shapes like a thorough stayer and has been targeted at the race for some time by trainer Pat Murphy who saddled the winner of the race ten years ago courtesy of Supreme Glory. There was much to like about his reappearance behind the progressive King Fontaine at Haydock and he is closely weighted with likely favourite Synchronised on previous Chepstow running over 3m. The extra distance will suit Maktu, but AP McCoy who rides Synchronised needs the Welsh version for a clean sweep of Grand National successes and Jonjo O’Neil’s charge looks a big danger.
Welsh National (ew 1/4 the first 4): Prices from StanJames.com
15-2 Dance Island
10 Watamu Bay
12 Dream Alliance
14 Silver By Nature
16 Exmoor Ranger
16 Arbor Supreme
18 Giles Cross
The Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle looks best left to Triumph Hurdle favourite Sam Winner (1.10) who has been very impressive in two starts at Cheltenham since joining Paul Nicholls. A word of caution about backing the horse for the Triumph, however, as his trainer has suggested that the four-year-old may run against his elders in the Supreme Novices’ in the Festival opener rather than wait to run against his peers on the Friday.
Voramar Two (12.35) didn’t jump as well as the other principles when runner up at Newbury last time but, dropped in grade, he can go one better in the Chepstow opener. The selection has yet to race on soft or heavy ground but he has a touch of class and if his fencing improves he can make his mark stepped back up in class between now and the end of the season.
According (1.15 Wincanton) looks to have been given a very attractive handicap mark given the grey was one time favourite for last season’s Triumph Hurdle. A winner over 1m 6f on the flat in France the selection must learn to settle during his race but if becoming more amenable to restraint he must go close for Nicky Henderson whose yard continue to churn out the winners.
The Minack (2.25) makes his chase debut at Wincanton and this winning point-to-pointer was unbeaten over hurdles going right-handed and should take this before going on to better things. He twice disappointed last season going left handed so it is possible he may wait for Punchestown rather than Cheltenham or Aintree if everything goes to plan.
If the rain and snow allows there’s a cracking card at Sandown with the feature being the 32Red Hurdle and the nod is given to Megastar (2.40) who lost little in defeat when failing to give 5lbs to Rock On Ruby at Newbury last time. One could argue that Paul Nicholls, who saddles likely favourite Toubab, should know where he stands with the selection given he also handles Rock On Ruby, but I’m not convinced that Toubab achieved a great deal at Haydock last time although visually very impressive.
Youngstown (2.05) was beaten 5l at Market Rasen back in November but the winner has subsequently followed up in a better race and the handicapper has kept Donald McCain’s charge on the same mark. His regular rider Jason Maguire can’t do 10st 4lbs so Brian Harding takes over this afternoon.Stan James are offering ¼ odds 5 places on tomorrow’s big betting race of the weekend the MCR Hurdle at Leopardstown. I was convinced I had seen the winner of the race when Prima Vista (2.25) turned what looked a competitive handicap into a procession here last time but he has been hit with a 15lb hike in the weights and has nothing in hand of runner up Tijuana Dancer on the revised terms. That said there ought to be more to come from the lightly-raced selection who could be better than a handicapper in time.
For all your sporting odds this weekend check out StanJames.com
Be lucky and stay warm