Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with five to follow on Saturday at Newcastle, Kempton and Chepstow. View selections below
Let’s hope the weekend turf racing survives the cold snap that is due to hit the country over the weekend; Kempton are due to stage a cracking card on Saturday and Phil Mickelson has decided to swerve the WGC World Matchplay in the snowy desert of Arizona but perhaps the horse of the same name can land the 1.30. Formerly trained by Noel Meade in Ireland Mickelson is now owned by Phil Tufnell who was known, amongst other less printable names, in the England dressing room as the Cat because of his ability to have a nap at any time. As long as the ground is decent he looks well treated on his best form, ran a cracker in an all-weather bumper last time and must go close if getting an uncontested lead.
The feature Racing Plus Chase is full of potential front-runners including favourite Wyck Hill was has been bought by leading owner JP McManus since beating the progressive Katenko at Ascot last time; at his best going right-handed he has been well supported for the Grand National later in the season (20/1 at BetVictor NRFB) and must go close.
It was nice to see the Philip Hobbs yard return to form in recent days and Duke Of Lucca has been one of the best backed horses this week but first time out might be the time to catch Quinz (3.50) the winner of the corresponding race two years ago off the same mark. The selection must go right-handed and it looks as if this race has been the target for some time despite the fact that he is returning from a long lay-off.
Richard Johnson takes the mount despite the fact that he also is the regular pilot of Duke Of Lucca who is half the price of his stablemate; a cracking renewal of this valuable Chase and Quinz gets the nod at 16/1.
I am going to give Vasco Du Ronceray (2.05) one more chance despite having been a beaten favourite on his last couple of starts; he refused to settle at Doncaster last time but the Henderson juvenile remains held in some regard in Lambourn and if more amenable to restraint can return to winning ways in a race often won by a leading juvenile including Champion Hurdlers Binocular and Punjabi in recent days.
The C4 cameras will also be at Newcastle for the Eider Chase where I like the look of Rapidolyte De Ladalka (2.55) at 14/1 (1/4 odds first 4) over the marathon 4m trip; Comply Or Die won this famous race off top-weight before going on to Aintree glory but there is nothing of his class this year although Pipe does saddle the likely top-weight in Master Overseer.
There is a cracking card in Ireland including the At The Races BobbyJo Chase one of the premier Grand National Trials won by Prince De Beauchene last year and the horse is currently 10/1 jt fav for Aintree with stablemate On His own who caused such a favourable impression earlier in the week when winning at Navan over timber.
Whitby Jack (3.55) travelled like the best handicapped horse in the valuable Ascot handicap last weekend and I, for one, am not surprised to see him drop back to the minimum trip at Chepstow; trainer Gary Moore has him in a couple of handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival and he would need to win to have any chance of getting into either race.BetVictor.com are going Non Runner No Bet on the Cheltenham Festival from 8pm on Friday evening