Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips on to follow on Saturday at Cheltenham and Lingfield. View selections below.
GRANDS CRUS (2.35) can underline his potential to take high rank among chasing’s elite this season by winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Martin Pipe, the 15-times champion trainer, mopped up this race on no fewer than eight occasions and son David wasted little time getting on the scoresheet with Great Endeavour 12 months ago. Grands Crus is a very worthy favourite given his excellent record at this fixture, beating Champion Court 10 lengths in the novices’ chase last November. Grands Crus also scored at the 2010 Paddy Power fixture, romping clear of For Non Stop in the 2m 5f handicap hurdle.
At level weights, he should have the measure of wide-margin Cheltenham festival scorer Hunt Ball, en route to the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. Course winner Calgary Bay, having switched to Mick Channon from Hen Knight, is the each-way alternative, trading around 25-1. Walkon, best caught fresh, will also have his supporters in a mouth-watering contest.
Nicky Henderson`s VASCO DU RONCERAY (12.45) made a big impression on his British debut at Hereford, beating the 109-rated Cool Hand Luke by more than 30 lengths, and will take all the beating in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial. The ex-French three-year-old could be a bit special.
On the all-weather at Lingfield, DANDY BOY (2.50) has the ability to overcome a potentially tricky draw in stall 10 in the Blue Square Golden Rose Stakes. David Marnane’s shock 33-1 Wokingham winner at Royal Ascot proved that was no fluke by running fourth to Society Rock in the G1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock. Jamie Spencer gets the leg up.
Blue Square also sponsor the 1m 2f Churchhill Stakes and lightly-campaigned CIRCUMVENT (2.15) may go one better than last year when pipped a short head by favourite Hunter`s Light.
In Sunday’s competitive Racing Post Hurdle at Cheltenham, David Pipe’s KAZLIAN (2.50) holds solid each-way claims. The four-year-old was sent clear coming down the hill in last season’s Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle but was a spent force up the hill, eventually fading into fourth. I suspect Tom Scudamore will ride him with a bit more restraint this time
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