Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Newbury, Newcastle and Doncaster. View selections below
The Hennessy Gold Cup is one of the big betting races of the jumps season and has been won in recent years by Gold Cup winners Denman and Bobs Worth and last year by the subsequent Grand National hero Many Clouds.
Bobs Worth is back for more this afternoon and is 7lbs lower than when landing the 2012 renewal and, after a barren spell, he looked more like his old self when beating stablemate Simonsig over timber earlier in the month. He was rated 180 when he failed to fire in the 2014 Gold Cup although he went off 6/4 favourite and was actually only beaten 4 lengths.
If there is a future Gold Cup winner in the field, however, it is surely top-weight Saphir Du Rheu (3.00) in the same Andy Stewart silks as the great Big Buck’s who was, arguably, unlucky not to land this prestigious and valuable prize back in 2008.
The selection is 7/2 at BetVictor but I think it will drift out to 4/1 or bigger tomorrow and the defection of Coneygree earlier in the week has certainly done the 6-year-old no favours. That said he looked a future star at Aintree back in the spring and at Carlisle on his reappearance although the runner up The Young Master will appreciate this step up in trip and will be better served returning to a left-handed track.
There is more rain forecast and if the ground turned heavy that would suit the out-and-out stayers down the foot of the weights with Ned Stark well supported this week.
The Limited Novices’ Handicap Chase is a wonderful puzzle to solve with chase debutant Laser Hawk and Aso of particular interest. That said I felt For Two (12.45) ran a race full of promise returning from an 18-month absence at Carlisle and gave the impression he would strip fitter for the outing. The drop back in trip should suit and he is 2lbs lower. There is plenty of pace in the race and it promises to be a terrific contest.
First time out might be the time to catch Mosspark (1.15) who makes his seasonal debut for Emma Lavelle with cheek-pieces replacing a visor he wore for his last two starts. He has always suggested that he could make up into a decent chaser in time and he has run well fresh in the past.
Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle is the Grade 1 action and the feature race of the jumps’ season at Gosforth Park. Seven go to post including two Irish raiders and Wicklow Brave (7/4 at BetVictor) gets the vote for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. The selection was a facile winner of the County Hurdle at Cheltenham back in the spring and finished third in the Morgiana Hurdle on bhis reappearance behind stablemates Nichols Canyon and Champion hurdler when jockey Patrick Mullins suggested he might have got closer with a more positive ride.
Having finished second in the Ebor and third in the Irish St Leger the selection has been on the go for some time but this looks an excellent opportunity for a first win at the top table.
The Donald McCain stable look as if they are finding their feet after a difficult period and Golden Investment (3.15) can land the finale having finished runner up on his rules’ debut at Aintree earlier in the month in a Bumper. Connections waste little time getting this winning pointer over obstacles and he is an exciting prospect.
At Doncaster Jack Steel (1.55) could be called the winner some way out at Ayr last time and a 12lbs rise may not be enough to prevent him following up especially if the ground remains no worse than good to soft.
Robins Reef (3.05) can make it two out of two over timber for Nicky Henderson although one slight concern would be all three career wins have come on right-handed tracks.
On Sunday do look out for Free Expression (2.40) in the Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse; the selection finished second on his chase debut but, everything that could go wrong did, and I’m convinced he can reverse the form with Outlander.
Please note that from today BetVictor will refund all losing bets (in cash and not as free bets) on British and Irish racing on horses who fail to give punters a run for their money and refuse or whip around at the start, fail to come out or lose all chance at the stalls.