Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up six tips on Saturday at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Southwell. View selections below.
COLOUR SQUADRON (2.25) gets the green light to continue Philip Hobbs’ red-hot renaissance in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham. The stable endured a pretty desperate time last season but the ‘master trainer’ is back in his old groove, with Colour Squadron running a cracker behind Johns Spirit in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. Colour Squadron lost momentum when slightly hampered two out and he can take his revenge, despite a slightly worrying career record of six second prizes. David Pipe’s Festival scorer Salut Flo hasn’t been spotted for 639 days, Attaglance is better over hurdles, Kapga De Cersey’s four UK wins have all come at Sandown, and the handicapper has probably got Grandioso in his pocket. Colour Squadron and Johns Spirit could well fight out the finish once again.
The New One (3.00) shares ante-post Champion Hurdle favouritism with My Tent Or Yours and he really ought to beat Zarkandar in the International Hurdle if the market has got it right. Zarkandar, sporting first-time blinkers, beat The New One in the Aintree Hurdle in April but there is a groundswell of opinion that this will be The New One’s season.
Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are locked in a titanic duel for the champion trainer crown (what’s new?) and they provide the principals in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial. Both are ex-French recruits and Henderson’s Kentucky Hyden scored by 33 lengths on his British debut at Sandown last month. However, Vicenzo Mio (12.10) may have the edge on Gallic form and gets the nod.
Nicholls’ Saint Roque was an expensive failure at Sandown when chasing a five-timer and although quicker ground conditions will be in his favour, he may get a rear view of the Pipe runner, KINGS PALACE (1.50), in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. There will be no hiding place in this stamina test over three miles and Kings Palace beat Creepy by an easy 18 lengths over slightly further here at the October fixture. Jonjo O’Neill’s ex-Irish bumper winner Milan Bound has won both his UK starts, at Carlisle and Uttoxeter, and is ready for this step up in class.
At Doncaster, BEAR’S AFFAIR (3.15) can fly the Henderson flag in the BetVictor Handicap Chase. After hunting up useful types Wonderful Charm and Le Bec on his first two starts over fences, Bear’s Affair made no mistake when winning at Kempton with something in reserve. Hobbs’ Carrigmorna King, runner-up to Tatenen at Newbury’s Hennessy fixture, and recent Wetherby scorer De Boitron provide stern opposition.
At Southwell, MEDITERRANEAN SEA (3.30) is a five-time winner on the Fibresand and will be all the straighter for his recent third to Honoured. Course winner Dynastic will help to make the market.
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