Paul Ferguson has one selection for us on Friday; Makari in the Southwell 6.50. Compare odds and bet.
The opening day of the Scottish Grand National meeting sees several interesting races taking place, none more so than the novice hurdle and bumper that bookend the card, but the ground is expected to be very testing up at Ayr, so it could pay to tread carefully ahead of Saturday’s high-class card.
Flat fans will be looking to Newbury for pointers for later in the campaign, but arguably the most interesting betting opportunity of the day is Makari (6:50) who makes his handicap debut at Southwell this evening.
A useful bumper performer, he made a winning debut for Nicky Henderson at Fakenham in October, before seemingly outstayed by course specialist Robbie, who followed up again next time, here the following month.
The six-year-old needs a tight track and decent ground, so pay close attention to the weather as any rain will detract from his chance. Should it remain dry, an opening mark of 113 looks more than fair and, despite top-weight, he could be a class apart in this grade.
Should the rain arrive but you’re still keen to place a bet on the day, this looks a good time to take a look at Makari’s stable-mate Hadrian’s Approach for the Bet365 Gold Cup in 8 days time.
Nicky Henderson’s novice was most recently seen finishing third behind Lord Windermere in the RSA Chase and looks on a fair mark of 147. Given that he skips the Scottish Grand National and that he could have run in the novice chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday, it is assumed that this is his end of season target and he has plenty in his favour.
Firstly, the fact we are likely to get better ground will help his cause, as will racing right-handed having won both races under rules at Ascot. The six-year-old also finished runner-up to Dynaste when racing this way around in the Feltham on Boxing Day, when his stable-mate Molotof was a further 7½ lengths away in fourth. He came out and won a Warwick handicap off 143 next time, which again points to Hadrian’s Approach being on a fair mark.
Finally, the way he has finished his last couple of races off, when pushing Unioniste (earlier won a Cheltenham handicap off 143) all the way to the line at Newbury and when staying on in the RSA, suggests the step up in trip will suit. Earlier in the season, he also fell when going well in a very warm race at Newbury, won by Harry Topper, with Jewson winner Benefficient in second.
With those two engaged at Punchestown next week along with the main protagonists from the RSA Chase, Hadrian’s Approach’s form could well have been boosted considerably by the time of next weekend’s big race and the 12/1 currently on offer will be no more.
6:50 Southwell: Makari (9/4 Skybet)
Ante-Post (Bet365 Gold Cup) Hadrian’s Approach
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Last Year’s Book Results – Leading Prospects:
- SPRINTER SACRE – Unbeaten – winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- SIMONSIG – Winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- CINDERS AND ASHES – 10/1 winner of Supreme Novices Hurdle
- BOBS WORTH – 9/2 winner of the RSA Chase
- MENORAH & SILVINIACO CONTI – Both Aintree Winners
- SIR DES CHAMPS – Unbeaten inc 3/1 Jewson Cheltenham Winner
- FINGAL BAY – Won 4 times inc Challow Hurdle
- RAYA STAR – 10/3 winner at Wetherby, 12/1 Ladbroke Hurdle winner, 15/2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner
- AMBION WOOD – 14/1 EBF Final Sandown winner
- CHAMPION COURT – 6/1 G2 Dipper Novices Chase winner
- PALACE JESTER – 14/1 winner at FFos Las
- SWINCOMBE FLAME – Hat-trick winner inc Lanzarote Hurdle at 9/2
- TEAFOR THREE – 5/1 NH Cheltenham Chase winner (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)