Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Haydock, Kempton and Carlisle on Saturday.
VIRAK (3.10) can bag another big Saturday prize for Paul Nicholls by defying top weight in the 888sport.com Handicap Chase at Haydock. The handicapper has dropped the gelding 3lb on the back of a fading third to Ainsi Fideles and Deputy Dan at Ascot in mid-February and Sean Bowen’s 5lb claim further reduces Virak’s burden. Although no match for subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree at Kempton on Boxing Day, Virak had earlier scooted home by 13 lengths at Doncaster and this represents a drop in grade.
The 3m 4f Tim Molony Chase also has the financial backing of 888sport and they could be paying out on ZIGA BOY (2.00). Alan King’s six-year-old has been a bit unlucky on a couple of occasions this season. Three weeks after landing the Silver Buck Chase at Wincanton in early December, Ziga Boy had just joined the front line at Newbury when unseating three out. He returned from a short break at Sandown and didn’t disgrace himself behind Financial Climate.
Kempton’s Betfred Queen’s Prize is a two-mile handicap steeped in tradition and LYCIDAS (5.10) seems sure to make a bold bid to follow up his recent four-length success over Yes Daddy at Wolverhampton. Charlie Fellowes’ six-year-old made all the running and the race was secure a long way from home. A 7lb rise may not be enough to stop Lycidas. Improving filly Taws was another wide-margin Wolverhampton scorer eight days ago and will not lack support in her hat-trick bid. Course and distance winner Castildo Del Diablo disappointed last time but remains dangerous in this less daunting company.
Betfred also sponsor the Class 2 mile handicap which has attracted a useful field headed in the betting by John Gosden’s unexposed Made With Love. An easy five-length course and distance maiden winner just before Christmas, the lightly-raced four-year-old has been handed a 90 rating by the assessor. That may be quite a stiff opening mark, especially as the runner-up has done nothing to frank the form, and the each-way alternative is Kevin Ryan’s REALIZE (3.25). The five-year-old was given a lot to do when anchored wide at Southwell and, in the circumstances, did very well to get within a length of Two Moons at the line. A dual Lingfield scorer over seven furlongs in February, Realize is holding his form nicely.
At Carlisle, NO DEAL (3.30) will take some stopping in the Totepool Handicap Chase. Although a nine-year-old, No Deal has had very little racing but he can make up for lost time by supplementing his easy Ayr victory over course specialist Silvertown in February. A 6lb rise looks lenient as No Deal won with plenty in hand.
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