Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with five to follow on Saturday at Haydock, Kempton and Meydan. View selections below
Something for everyone this weekend with top quality jump racing from Haydock Park, the rearranged first leg of the spring double the William Hill Lincoln Handicap from Doncaster and the richest horserace in the world the Dubai World Cup from Meydan in the early evening.
I shall be at Haydock where BetVictor are sponsoring the card including the feature Chase over two-and-a-half miles which sees Pepite Rose try and put behind her Newbury fall when she looked to be coming with a strong challenge only to over-jump and come a cropper.
The ground is currently good to soft at Haydock, with no rain forecast, although a heavy frost is due on Friday night; if the ground is as described she has a leading chance, but there must be the possibility that the ground will ride slower than forecast and the nod goes to Triptico (3.15) representing Welsh handler Evan Williams. The selection is improving nicely over the larger obstacles and lost nothing in defeat at Chepstow last time; the handicapper hasn’t exactly been kind with a 4lb rise but there looks more to come from the 7-y-old.
Owner Trevor Hemmings loves to have winners at his local track and Balinroab (3.50) impressed at Leicester last time whilst jockey AP McCoy won a 20th Lester at the Jockey’s Awards Ceremony on Thursday night; the selection has been raised 10lbs for that latest success but this wining Irish point-to-pointer has always suggested he would be a better chaser than hurdler and he can go in again.
We are also sponsoring at Kempton where I hope Miblish (2.20) can go one better in the Listed Magnolia Stakes; the recommendation was a late withdrawal from the Winter Derby a couple of weeks ago but has obviously been pleasing trainer Clive Brittain and the form of his second to World Cup hope Planteur looks very good in this class.
Robin Hoods Bay and Cai Shen are closely matched on Lingfield form and the latter has been a revelation this winter improving at a rate of knots including winning a decent handicap over today’s C&D at the beginning of the month.
Sixteen go to post in the Roseberry the other feature event on the card and I am going to side with those drawn low and favour the progressive Buckland (2.55) drawn one over Spifer in draw two; yes the race is over 11 furlongs, but I consider a low draw a big advantage in such a competitive field and favour Buckland whose trainer (Hans Adielsson four winners from his last five runners) and jockey Nicole Nordblad (last four rides all winners) are in such lethal form. This represents another step up in grade for the horse (and jockey?) but he has been a revelation since being stepped up in trip and gets the nod in a terrific race.
If the draw is important at Kempton it is also the case out in Meydan where I am desperately disappointed to see Animal Kingdom get drawn out in stall 12 of 13; last year’s Kentucky Derby winner was, arguably, unlucky when runner up to Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Mile where he had such high-class European runners as Excelebration and Moonlight Cloud behind.
I am loath to desert him but he is overlooked in favour of Hunter’s Light (6.05); I remember making the presentation to connections at Haydock last summer when the horse won the Talk To Victor Rose Of Lancaster Stakes and I’m convinced even the winning jockey would have said I was raving mad had I said he would go off as a leading fancy for the Dubai World Cup in the spring.
We are betting ¼ odds 6 places on next weekend’s John Smith’s Grand National and Non Runner No bet so no reason to leave your bets to the last minute; it remains the greatest horserace in the world and I, for one, cannot wait.