Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Chepstow, Kempton, Newcastle and Fairyhouse. View selections below
The BetBright Chase has sixteen fascinating runners going to post and looks one of the most competitive handicap chases of the season thus far. Emma Lavelle’s Fox Appeal boasts excellent course form with the 8-y-o second to subsequent Ascot Chase winner Balder Success at the track last month and a beaten favourite behind the same horse on the corresponding card at Kempton last term.
If he stays, stepping up in trip to three miles, he must go close however preference lay with the relatively unexposed Ballinvarrig (3.50) for the team of Tom George and Paddy Brennan. The selection scored over course and distance two starts ago and was a massive eye-catcher when staying on last time over an inadequate trip last time out at Ascot and despite a 7lb rise at the weights, can reward each-way backers at a double figure price.
Nicky Henderson’s Days of Heaven (3.10) has won two competitive Novices’ Hurdles despite giving his rivals a start in both races and pulling hard in both successes at Ludlow and Doncaster. He demonstrated similar quirks when chasing home stablemate Different Gravy earlier this term at Newbury, and that form has worked out well with the winning landing a Listed Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon midweek. He must have an engine to have won his races in the manner that he has and as such is a confident selection under regular pilot Barry Geraghty.
The other feature handicap chase comes from Newcastle, with a maximum field of 18 runners going to post for the marathon 4m 1f contest. Last year’s winner Wyck Hill and last season’s Classic Chase hero Shotgun Paddy heading the weights for the David Bridgwater and Emma Lavelle stables respectively. In a race that is often turned into a slog a featherbed weight is handy and Tutchec (2.55) is given the nod for the red-hot pair of Nicky Richards and Brian Harding. The stable have enjoyed a spectacular season thus far and are operating at a 35% strike-rate in 2015. The selection couldn’t have been more impressive when scoring at the track last term and, after a few runs under his belt already, can go in again from just a pound higher mark.
Newcastle is Malcom Jefferson’s local track and his stable star Oscar Rock (4.40) looks potentially well-treated making his handicap chase debut from an opening mark of 132. The 7-y-o looks every inch a chaser and can shed the maiden tag over fences at the second attempt, with first-time cheek-pieces fancied to spark he, and regular partner Brian Hughes, into life.
You seldom see a reigning Champion Chase winner at Chepstow however Sire De Grugy (3.35) is South-Wales in a bid to bounce back from last month’s disappointing return in The Game Spirit Chase. He looked a tired horse when unseating jockey Jamie Moore three fences from home and was struggling to reel-in Mr Mole and AP McCoy. Gary Moore’s stable star bids to give upwards of 20lb to his three rivals but should remain a class apart and can win en-route to a defending his Championship Title at Prestbury Park next month; 6/1 (Non Runner No Bet) with BetVictor to claim back-to-back Queen Mother Champion Chase Titles.
Just five go to post for the feature G2 Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse, with last year’s winner On His Own narrowly denied success when attempting to follow-up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Jim Culloty’s Spring Heeled (2.05) is 100/1 (Non Runner No Bet) with BetVictor for jump racing’s blue riband however can use this afternoon’s race to set up a trip to Aintree instead. The selection landed a gamble when winning the Kim Muir last year’s Cheltenham Festival and finished a respectable fourth behind subsequent G1-winner Road to Riches when last seen in the Galway Plate in July. The selection boasts an excellent record fresh and can book his ticket to Liverpool with success this afternoon; 25/1 (EW ¼ 1-2-3-4-5) for the £1million Crabbies Grand National with BetVictor.