Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips on Saturday at Cheltenham and Lingfield. View selections below.
WALKON (2.30) returns to Cheltenham with solid claims in the feature Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup. Alan King’s seven-year-old chased home impressive Al Ferof in last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup over course and distance and the prevailing soft ground swings the vote in his favour, despite a 5lb higher mark and the suspicion he goes best when fresh. King reports Walkon in good nick and is a classy sort on his day.
David Pipe’s Notus De La Tour is the each-way alternative, trading around 10-1, on the strength of some smart novice form behind rising star Flemenstar and Blackstairsmountain at Leopardstown. Notus De La Tour got no further than the third fence here in the Byrne Group Plate but is another horse at home in the mud. Walkon thumped him at Exeter last season but the Pipe runner enjoys a 12lb pull for nine lengths. Ruby Walsh teams up with Down Royal winner Cristal Bonus, with soft ground definitely in his favour. However, Cristal Bonus’ record at Cheltenham is poor (pulled up in the Jewson Novices’ Chase on his latest visit).
Champion hurdler ROCK ON RUBY (3.05) reappears in the StanJames International Hurdle and will need to be at the top of his game to see off Zarkander and Grandouet. Having his first run for trainer Harry Fry, Rock On Ruby was ready to run in the abandoned Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and has scored on both seasonal starts in the past.
CONEYGREE (1.55) wins a confident shout in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. The five-year-old, given a typically enthusiastic ride from Mattie Batchelor, looked a staying hurdler to follow when powering up the Cheltenham hill to lift the 2m 5f Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Paddy Power fixture.
Two previous winners of the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival, OH CRICK (1.20) and Oiseau De Nuit, lock horns in the two-mile handicap chase and Alan King’s nine-year-old gets the nod after a fine second at Newbury earlier this month. There was no disgrace in finishing second to Paul Nicholls’ handicap snip Ulck Du Lin and Oh Crick seems a better handicapped horse than Colin Tizzard’s admirable top weight.
The ground is guaranteed to be heavy at Lingfield but TANERKO EMERY (1.10) handled similar conditions at Sandown last Friday when getting up close home in what appeared a stronger event. David Pipe has a progressive sort on his hands and Tanerko Emery can concede weight all round.
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