Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Cheltenham and Doncaster on Saturday. View selections below.
Four-time World Hurdle hero Big Buck’s takes centre stage on Cheltenham’s fascinating Trials Day but the best bet on the card comes over the bigger obstacles in the shape of ROCKY CREEK (2.25) in the Argento Chase. Rocky Creek faces six rivals and can go one better than in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury when just unable to resist Triolo D’Alene in the final 100 yards. Paul Nicholls mopped up a couple of big prizes last weekend and consistent Rocky Creek can overcome his lack of Cheltenham course form to see off Houblon Des Obeaux and 2012 Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster.
Punters who want to take on Big Buck’s in the Cleeve Hurdle after a 420-day absence will probably flit between last year’s winner Reve De Sivola and At Fishers Cross but I’m keeping a watching brief. The money will be down elsewhere on RATHVINDEN (3.00) in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle. There were agonised groans from his backers when he exited at Warwick in the race won by Deputy Dan but Willie Mullins’ six-year-old had arrived on these shores with a tall reputation following two easy wins at Cork before Christmas. Red Sherlock has hacked up in weaker company and this will be a serious examination of his future big-race credentials.
Hat-trick seeking DOUBLE ROSS (1.50) boasts some terrific course and distance form this season and an 8lb rise for his most recent success at the New Year fixture may not anchor him. Top weight Wishfull Thinking also thrives at Prestbury Park and may emerge as the principal threat.
On a strong Doncaster card, NIGHT IN MILAN (3.15) looks sure to go well in another competitive renewal of the Sky Bet Chase. It usually pays to swerve the higher-weighted horses in this event and nicely-treated Night In Milan spread-eagled his field over course and distance in mid-December when his bold, attacking fencing technique had most of his rivals toiling a long way from home. Third-placed Mart Lane franked the form a couple of weeks later and should also run well.
Former Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby bids to further advance his new career over fences when lining up in the Racing Post Lightning Novices’ Chase. He was solid rather than spectacular at Plumpton and Emma Lavelle’s FOX APPEAL (12.55) could hardly have been more impressive when despatching Raya Star at Ascot and gets the nod. Valdez has looked a natural over fences for Alan King, whose string are now emerging from a self-imposed shutdown. It will be intriguing to see how the King horses perform in the next few weeks, with time running out before the Cheltenham Festival.
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