Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with nine to follow on Saturday at Warwick and Kempton. View selections below
Another fabulous weekend of racing and Don Pooleoni (12.45) can land Warwick’s handicap hurdle for Harry Fry with conditional jockey Martin McIntyre taking off a valuable 10lbs; the young jockey has ridden two winners from eight career rides but both those successes were in Bumpers and this would be a first winner over jumps. Let’s hope it’s the first of many!
Court Victory is a fascinating contender in the Novices’ Chase having his first start since finishing lame in the corresponding race two years ago! He receives 8lbs from his three rivals today but may have to give best to Black Thunder (1.20) who has looked a thorough stayer winning when winning all three chase starts so far this season.
The Leamington Novices’ Hurdle is a cracking renewal; Creepy’s hurdling deficiencies resurfaced at Newbury last time and this 2m 5f on heavy ground might just be too far for Martin Keighley’s 6-y-old and the vote goes to Irish raider Rathvinden (3.00) unbeaten under rules for Willie Mullins and, as the saying goes, could be anything.
Sixteen go to post for The Classic Chase including previous winner Hey Big Spender who is 10lb lower than winning this race two years ago but the vote goes to Royale Knight (3.35) despite being 3lbs out of the handicap. The selection ran away with the Borders National at Kelso last month and, whilst he may prefer better ground, he is taken to cope with this step up in class with Brendan Powell an excellent booking. At 12/1 with BetVictor he can reward each way support.
Vesper Bell is a horse I could be accused of following over a cliff but at 11/2 favourite I can let him run in what is a very competitive 16-runner handicap. Venetia Williams saddled the winner last year and Emperor’s Choice (14/1) is another to consider in a very good renewal.
At Kempton Toby Lerone (12.25) can return to winning ways having come down over the National fences in the Grand Sefton Chase last month; Ice “N” Easy is worth more than a passing glance for Charlie Longsdon as this 8-y-old has been well entered up in recent weeks and his 270-day absence should not be perceived as a negative.
The Tolworth Hurdle has been transferred from last weekend’s abandoned Sandown fixture; Ruby Walsh rides Upazo for Willie Mullins but the vote goes to The Liquidator (1.35) for David Pipe whose stable were back among the winners earlier in the week after something of a quiet spell. Winner of both starts over timber by an aggregate of 26 lengths Pipe expressed his concern earlier in the week that Kempton might not be a sufficient test but he gets the vote with Garde La Victoire considered the main danger.
Tolworth Hurdle: prices from BetVictor: EW ¼ odds 1, 2:
The liquidator 5/2
Josses Hill 9/2
Garde La Victoire 6/1
The WilliamHill.com Chase is a cracker with Irish raider Twinlight having stamina to prove over this extended 2m 4f and old adversaries Champion Court and Captain Chris (2.10) head the market with preference for the latter despite giving weight to four of his five rivals. Ghizao travelled best of all in the Peterborough Chase on his reappearance before, once again, folding tamely but at 10/1 with BetVictor he might be worth a saver although the Hobbs’ runner gets the vote.
Junction Fourteen did us a favour last time but has been raised 16lbs for that effort and the Lanzarote Hurdle is a much more competitive race; my two against the field are Saphir Du Rheu and River Maigue (2.40) with marginal preference for the latter for the same winning combination as last year Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson.
The handicapper has given the veteran Planet Of Sound a chance in the 3m Chase and he has gone well fresh in the past; it will be interesting to see if the market speaks in his favour from a mark 14lbs lower than when 3rd in the Racing Plus Chase of 2012.
The vote, however, goes to Relax (3.15) of Venetia Williams who will appreciate the return to a right-handed track and who will love the forecast soft ground.
From 9am Saturday 11th January Betvictor are betting Non Runner No Bet on all four Championship races at the Cheltenham Festival.