Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five Saturday tips at Newcastle, Kempton & Lingfield. View selections below.
ONE trainer who has positively thrived throughout the winter deluge has been Venetia Williams and RELAX (2.55) can bag her another big Saturday pot by making a splash in the Betfred Eider Chase at Newcastle. With 16 runners declared for this war of attrition over 4m 1f on deep ground, there are four places available in the each-way market and Relax arrives on the back of a typically gutsy Sandown victory over Ardkilly Witness and Theatrical Star earlier this month. The nine-year-old also ploughed through the Ffos Las mud for another game success and Callum Whillans takes off a valuable 5lb.
Williams is also represented by lively outsider Niceonefrankie in the feature Betbright Chase at Kempton but a prominent showing from Relax would boost the prospects of ARDKILLY WITNESS (3.50). Dr Richard Newland places his horses with a surgeon’s precision and Ardkilly Witness is always at his best on right-handed tracks. The eight-year-old coped admirably with the clawing surface at Wincanton on Boxing Day, pulling clear down the straight for an emphatic triumph and although the gelding found the opposition a bit too hot behind classy Planet Of Sound at Sandown, life should be easier in this company. Favourite Bury Parade shoulders top weight and that’s a tough ask under these conditions. Midnight Appeal makes more appeal.
There is a fascinating head-to-head looming between IRVING (3.15) and First Mohican in the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle, with both starlets putting their strong Supreme Novices’ Hurdle credentials on the line. They each will have their loyal supporters but I’m firmly in the Irving camp given his proven form on a testing surface. Paul Nicholls has saddled the ex-German Flat performer to win all three career starts in Britain and victory here would be the perfect springboard to the traditional Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser.
FOX APPEAL (2.40) reverts to a more suitable distance of 2m 4f in the Betbright Pendil Novices’ Chase after finding Doncaster’s minimum trip patently on the sharp side. Emma Lavelle’s gelding was taken out of his comfort zone by free-going Irish raider Arnaud and eventual winner Valdez but knuckled down to run into third place. His jumping was less than fluent that day but he is another horse who prefers racing in a clockwise direction, as underlined by his 10-length demolition of useful Raya Star at Ascot over 2m 3f. Fox Appeal, also a course winner for good measure, just gets the nod over classy Balder Success. His trainer, Alan King, has some smart novice chasers again this season and this promises to be a stirring contest.
Lingfield has produced a mouth-watering card for lovers of the all-weather and Grandeur will be all the rage for the Coral Winter Derby Trial on the back of some sterling efforts last season, most notably when running the very useful Mukhadram to under a length in the Group 2 York Stakes. Ryan Moore is a great booking but his assistance will further cramp Grandeur’s odds, so the each-way option is CHOOKIE ROYALE (3.30). Keith Dalgleish is forging quite a name for himself and he has improved Chookie Royale leaps and bounds on the Polytrack. The six-year-old simply pulverised his rivals over nine furlongs at Wolverhampton 19 days ago and runner-up Star Links has since advertised the merits of that performance by winning off his highest rating. Chookie Royale earlier went down with all guns blazing to another sand specialist, Grey Mirage, and he could be hard to catch in this nine-runner field.
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