Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips for Saturday from Aintree, Sandown and Wolverhampton. View selections below
WITH an embarrassment of riches over the sticks this weekend, it may seem unusual to direct your attention to the sand dunes of Wolverhampton on a Saturday night for the nap selection.
However, SUGHERA (8.50) merits close scrutiny in the staying handicap, with Tony Martin booking Eddie Ahern to ride his rare Irish raider. The four-year-old filly has been a slow-burner, but the penny has dropped lately. Sughera scored over hurdles in October, only 11 days after finishing runner-up at Clonmel under Ruby Walsh.
She was then sent to Dundalk for her all-weather debut, but could never get competitive from a very wide draw over an inadequate 1m 4f. My selection was staying on steadily into fifth spot at the line and she meets some slowcoaches here off a very lowly mark. Top weight Spice Bar rates the danger, although Sir Mark Prescott’s unexposed filly Empyrean is worth noting in the market.
National Hunt aficiondos are in for a treat, with champion chaser SIZING EUROPE (3.05) reverting to the minimum trip in Sandown’s Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase. He was outpointed by the very smart Quito De La Roque over three miles at Down Royal in early November, but if running up to his Cheltenham form when licking Big Zeb he will be hard to beat. Paul Nicholls has mopped up the last SIX renewals and the pick of his two challengers is probably Tataniano. Philip Hobbs’ Wishfull Thinking dropped out tamely after blazing a trail in the Paddy Power Gold Cup but may find this test on the sharp side.
At Aintree, Nicholls saddles course specialist FRANKIE FIGG (3.20) in the the Betfred Grand Sefton Chase. ‘Frankie’ treated the Grand National fences with disdain when scoring here for previous trainer Howard Johnson and should be spot-on after his initial run at Sandown.
WYSE HILL TEABAGS (12.35) has been well looked after by Jim Goldie and remains open to improvement. His gelding ran very well in defeat at Aintree last season when finishing third to Russian War and again shaped with plenty of promise when beaten only half a length by 155-rated Any Given Day at Haydock.
It is best to catch MASTER OF THE HALL (2.45) when fresh and Nicky Henderson’s exciting chaser will be very hard to topple in the five-runner Listed event. The Lambourn work-watchers report him in great heart after impressing in a gallop on Thursday.
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