Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Sandown and Wolverhampton on Saturday. View selections below.
PINE CREEK (3.15) can boost the betting bank for next week’s Cheltenham jamboree by landing the Paddy Power Imperial Cup at Sandown.
John Ferguson has got the knack of snapping up Shiekh Mohammed’s Darley Stud cast-offs down to a fine art and Pine Creek has made a good start to his hurdling career after a solid, if unspectacular, Flat career in France. The five-year-old floundered in desperate ground at Folkestone on his UK debut but quickly made amends by justifying favouritism at Leicester and Doncaster, beating a useful sort of Oliver Sherwood’s, Ubaldo Des Menhies, at the latter track (pair well clear). Tony McCoy gets the leg-up on warm market leader Mr Mole, who toyed with Home Run at Taunton last time, having been turned over at 2/7 previously at Wincanton. Mr Mole has bags of potential but may struggle to concede 8lb to the unexposed Pine Creek.
Nicky Henderson can also bolster funds in the 2m 4f novices’ handicap hurdle with CLOSE TOUCH (2.05). Owned and bred by The Queen, Close Touch arrived on the racetrack with a tall reputation and duly mopped up his first three starts, all at odds-on. He had his colours lowered by African Gold at Doncaster but that was no disgrace and Barry Geraghty prefers him to stablemates Whisper and Golden Hoof.
Alan King hasn’t got the heavy ammunition of past seasons to go to war with at Cheltenham but he has picked up a nice mare from Ireland, OUR POLLYANNA (3.50), who has her first run for the stable in the Listed bumper on an interesting Sandown card. Our Pollyanna scored at Punchestown on New Year’s eve for Prunella Dobbs, making all the running.
William Hill sponsor a tricky programme at Wolverhampton and STRICTLY SILVER (2.55) can land the Lincoln Trial for in-form trainer Alan Bailey. This will be Strictly Silver’s first venture here but he has shown good form on the Polytrack, hunting up subsequent winner Robin Hoods Bay at Lingfield. Crack apprentice Robert Tart is great value for his 7lb claim.
Newmarket handler Stuart Williams has worked the oracle with TAROOQ (4.05), who attempts to rack up a five-timer in the six-furlong handicap. The course and distance winner is up only 3lb for denying Piscean at Lingfield last month and has drawn the plum inside box.
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