Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Cheltenham and Doncaster on Saturday. View selections below.
SMAD PLACE (1.50) can take full advantage of his weight concession to land the BetBright Chase on Cheltenham Trials Day. Alan King’s eight-year-old receives 8lbs from his principal rivals Dynaste, Many Clouds, The Giant Bolster and Black Thunder and this extended 3m 1f test on the New course is a serious examination which Smad Place should relish. He stayed on strongly when just denied by O’Faolains Boy in last season’s RSA Chase and will strip fitter for his run behind Many Clouds in the Hennessy at Newbury. Dynaste is the class act but this trip may stretch his reserves to breaking point. The Giant Bolster grabbed this valuable scalp 12 months ago and has always shown his very best form at Cheltenham. Many punters look no further than Paul Nicholls when assessing these big Saturday chases and Black Thunder boasts a verdict over Many Clouds at Haydock. Black Thunder came down in the RSA Chase but could prove the one to beat.
VALUE AT RISK (3.00) is my idea of the best bet on the card. Formerly a very smart bumper horse in Ireland for Philip Fenton, Value At Risk made a winning debut at Newbury for Dan Skelton, running out an emphatic 22-length victor. The Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle has attracted some smart young staying types but Value At Risk’s third to Shaneshill and Silver Concorde in the big Punchestown bumper in April marked him down as a potential star over obstacles. Colin Tizzard is doubly represented and Robinsfirth would be a viable each-way alternative.
NED STARK (1.15) will find the opposition in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase less onerous than his last task when finding Ptit Zig and company too strong here on New Year’s Day. Previously, Ned Stark had rattled off a hat-trick at Chepstow, Huntingdon and Newbury and, with only five runs under his belt, this late-maturing seven-year-old may have a little improvement still to come.
KIAMA BAY (4.10) could be the answer to an open-looking handicap hurdle. Jim Best’s gelding fell at the final flight with the race well and truly in the bag at Haydock and was denied some compensation on his return to the Lancashire track when collared on the run-in by Aso. The handicapper has dropped him 3lb and Barry Geraghty gets the leg-up, despite Nicky Henderson saddling top weight Royal Irish Hussar.
Feature event at Doncaster is the always competitive Skybet Chase over three miles and top weight MEDERMIT (3.15) will appreciate this easier grade after chasing home Sam Winner at Aintree and running with credit behind Silviniaco Conti in the Betfair Chase. Tom Bellamy takes off 5lb. If In Doubt is talented and relatively unexposed, but his jumping technique occasionally leaves something to be desired.
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