Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with nine to follow on Saturday at Aintree, Chepstow, Navan, Sandown and Wetherby. View selections below
Sprinter Sacre misses Saturday’s BetVictor Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park tomorrow and whilst the race is more interesting from a betting proposition it is a great shame that Nicky Henderson’s stable star, and that is saying something, cannot make his reappearance at the weekend.
Captain Conan was being prepared by Henderson for a handicap at Cheltenham next week but is unbeaten in three starts at Sandown and is much respected rerouted in the absence of the Champion Chaser. He finished 2L in front of Sire De Grugy on his Chase debut at Cheltenham last November and won four of his five starts over fences in his novice campaign. He is a tank of a horse but I felt he would need further than the minimum trip this term and I think Sire De Grugy (3.00) can reverse the form.
The other G1 on the card is the Henry VIII Novices Chase, won last year by Captain Conan, and the Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty combination can go in again with Grandouet (1.50) despite unseating at the track last month. The 6-y-o will be suited by the strong pace set from Balder Success and as previous seasons have shown us he will more than likely come on for the run; his form first time out reads 35F2UR, thereafter 31213BD111F6. Taquin De Seuil beat Oscar Whisky in a farce of a race over two and a half at Cheltenham but looks set to struggle against speedier rivals.
The handicapper could have taken a chance raising Alfie Spinner (3.35) by just 1lb after he ran a cracker behind Standing Ovation in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton last month; yes he did run his best race first time out last season and there is the possibility his form might tail off as it did last term but he has always suggested he had a big race in him and he can reward each way support. Alan King’s Scottish National winner Godsmejudge heads the weights with Robert Thornton in the plate and he is respected from top weight.
A magnificent card at Aintree with the National fences jumped twice; the feature Becher Chase over 3m 2f is mouth-watering with a very strong Irish challenge. On His Own has failed to complete in the last two Grand Nationals and he is overlooked in favour of Vesper Bell (2.05) who has the scope to cope with this unique test. No 7-year-old has won this event since Silver Birch in 2004 and he went on to win the National later in his career. At 16/1 the hope is he can reward each way support.
Peter Bowen’s Regal Diamond (12.00)disappointed when sixth on his return at Cheltenham before being found out at Chepstow on bottomless ground but he should be far better suited to Aintree. The 5-y-o was touted as a possible Cheltenham horse and should those aspirated have any claim, he should be winning the extended two mile novice hurdle in facile fashion.
Ruby Walsh misses riding either of Willie Mullins’ two to ride some highly touted novices at Navan; Faugheen (1.15)who was impressive on his debut over hurdles last month being backed for both the Neptune (10s from 16s) and the Albert Bartlett (14s from 20s) and he looks sure to run well again. Similarly Vautor (12.00) in the opening maiden hurdle and Felx Yunger (2.20) in the novices’ chase; although they are all set to be very skinny prices.
Imjoeking (1.40) runs at Wetherby and looks to have a bright future in staying handicap chases, but the 6-y-o should still be good enough to win the two mile handicap chase against older, more exposed animals. Lucinda Russell’s gelding was out-speeded by Sue Smith’s Mwalseshi but he has since gone on to frank the form behind the 143 rated hurdler Eduard at Carlisle.
Chepstow’s three mile handicap chase looks to be a Welsh National trial in everything bar name and with De La Bech, Hawkes Point, and Mountainous, all likely runners on the big day itself but preference for the Venetia Williams trained Quartz De Thaix (2.00) who looks sure to love the ground and has her horses firing on all cylinders at the minute.