Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with eight to follow on Saturday at Newbury, Doncaster and Kelso. View selections below
Saturday’s card at Newbury is in aid of the excellent charity Greatwood, which supports the re-homing of racehorses once their careers have finished under rules and BetVictor are delighted to be associated with such a wonderful charity and sponsor the handicap chase later on the card. The feature handicap chase on the card sees eleven runners go to post and Phillip Hobbs’ Royal Regatta a likely favourite after his impressive success last month at Doncaster. After a fantastic start to the season the stable have had a quiet New Year and preference lay with Tom Symonds’ progressive mare Midnight Belle (3.25) under 3lb conditional Benjamin Poste. The selection has been a revelation since being sent over fences, winning her last two starts at Ludlow and Wetherby in impressive fashion and, despite a 7lb rise at the weights, is tough and teak and is sure to give another good account at a likely double-figure price.
Eight go to post for the BetVictor Supporting Greatwood Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase with Tom George’s O Maonlai (4.35) given another chance after disappointing last time out on bottomless ground at Ffos Las. The selection boasts strong form over hurdles in his native Ireland but has disappointed on all three starts over the larger obstacles during his tenure with Tom George thus far. Despite this, the 7-y-o has shown glimpses of his hurdles form and was well-supported last time out when failing to handle the testing conditions down in South Wales. Paddy Brennan keeps the ride and he is taken to justify each-way support and get the better of Lucy Wadham’s unexposed handicap debutant Road to Freedom and top-weight Cody Wyoming.
The Veterans’ Chasse on the card is a fascinating renewal with David Pipe’s Soll potentially well-treated after landing a gamble earlier this month at Exeter. The suspicion remains however that the 11-y-o prefers testing conditions and a chance is taken on Tranquil Sea (2.15) for the resurgent Warren Greatrex stable. The teenager has a tremendous record when fresh, should love the ground and looks well-handicapped to give another good account after winning a similar contest last term on Town Moor.
The Grimthorpe Chase is one of the highlights of the National Hunt season at Doncaster and Super Duty (3.45) well-fancied to run a big race on just his second start for the Ian Williams stable. The selection was a narrow second to the 151-rated Hadrians Approach when conceding 3lb to Nicky Henderson’s subsequent Bet365 Gold Cup winner 18 months ago and should be primed for a big run after a spin over hurdles last month at Wetherby and has to be competitive from a 4lb lower mark.
The #CatchAPMcCoy farewell tour is South Yorkshire bound this afternoon and despite being without a ride in the feature, the 19-time Champion Jockey has five excellent rides and Fort Worth (1.25) a confident selection for boss Jonjo O’Neill in the opener. He couldn’t have been more impressive when making a winning debut over timber earlier in the season at Wetherby and should be able to go in again under a penalty.
Clever Cookie landed last season’s G2 Premier Hurdle at Kelso en-route to a campaign on the flat thereafter and whilst perhaps unlikely to translate his form into that sphere, Nicky Richards’ Glingerburn (3.00) can land a nice pot en-route to a career over fences. The selection turned over Cheltenham Festival winner Hawk High in the Morebattle Hurdle over course and distance earlier in the month and can give weight and a beating to the pair of exciting juveniles Bristol De Mai and Intense Tango.
The Listed Chase on the card has generally been used as a Grand National Trial by many along the years, including Donald McCain’s Aintree hero Ballabriggs using the race to aid his Liverpool preparations in 2011. There’s no such prep for Cloudy Too (4.10) however who looks to have been well-placed by trainer Sue Smith and can land a nice pot for connections. The 8-y-o ran a blinder when conceding lumps of weight when last seen in a competitive handicap chase at Haydock but prior to that chased home Captain Chris in the G1 Ascot Chase and rated 157, sets an excellent standard.