Former Talksport presenter Charlie McCann marks your card for Saturday’s racing at Ascot, Haydock, Wincanton and Leopardstown (Sun).
Today’s feature is the Victor Chandler Chase from Ascot although it is a modest renewal of this Grade 1 contest. Former Champion Chaser Master Minded won the corresponding race a couple of years ago and has looked back to his best with wide-margin victories at Ascot and Cheltenham so far this term. AP McCoy won the Tingle Creek on the Paul Nicholls-trained 8-y-o back in 2008 and the current Sports Personality of the Year takes the ride again this afternoon.
Petit Robin has finished runner up in the last couple of renewals of the race but he is a better horse going left-handed and Somersby is taken to chase the favourite home having ran on well in the Tingle Creek behind Master Minded last month.
The big betting race of the day is the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock. This valuable and prestigious prize has been won by some of the great northern chasers of the past including Gold Cup winners Bregawn, Little Owl and Jodami but no Irish horse, to date, has ever won the prize.
Noel Glynn crosses the Irish Sea with the progressive Becauseicouldntsee who finished runner up in the 4m National Hunt Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. Nina Carberry takes the ride and his excellent jumping will be a great asset at the Lancashire track, but I hope Maktu (3.15) settles a bit better than he did at Chepstow where he ran a cracker in the circumstances to finish fifth in the Welsh National a fortnight ago. It is quite possible that he is not yet over those exertions but I believe he is the best handicapped horse in the race and he is given the nod.
There is a disappointing turnout for the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial with Peddlers Cross likely to go off about 1/6 to retain his unbeaten record in a four-runner race. The Novice Chase, however, sees only five to post but it is an absolute cracker with Wymott (2.40) in receipt of weight from the others just given the vote for the formidable combination of owner Trevor Hemmings and trainer Donald McCain. The recommendation would prefer another half mile but jockey Jason Maguire can dictate his own pace out in front and hopefully take the finishing kick out of the talented quartet who oppose.
Wincanton must pass an 8.30 inspection this morning but if racing goes ahead Promising Anshan (2.10) can indeed fulfill the “promise” he showed on his penultimate start at Newbury for Paul Nicholls. A winning point-to-pointer he has yet to race right-handed under rules but gave every indication that this trip would be well within his compass when staying on dourly for pressure last time.
Venetia Williams has her string in good heart and Tenor Nivernais (1.40) could have been let in lightly for his British debut having won both starts over timber when trained in France by Guillaume Macaire.
Weather permitting there is an excellent card at Leopardstown tomorrow with Hurricane Fly (2.45) looking to cement his Champion Hurdle claims in the Irish equivalent. Solwhit was not given the best of rides when the pair last met over Xmas but the Willie Mullins 7-y-o is taken to confirm his superiority and head to the Festival unbeaten over hurdles this term.
Hidden Cyclone (3.20) will appreciate stepping up in trip to 2m 4f for the first time having lost nothing in defeat in Grade 1 company last time. He will not be seen to best effect until he goes over fences next season but there are more races to be won this term and he merits the weekend nap.
For all your sporting odds this weekend check out StanJames.com
Be lucky and stay warm