Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Chepstow, Kempton and Lingfield on Saturday. View selections below.
BIVOUAC (2.35) wallows in the mud and Nicky Henderson’s progressive sort should go very close in the William Hill Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton.
After finding the track at Chepstow a little on the quick side over two miles in October, ex-French hurdler Bivouac scooted clear on soft ground at Huntingdon the following month when sent up in trip. The five-year- old boasts excellent course form, having finished third in the Adonis Hurdle following a previous success in a competitive juvenile hurdle. Ibis Du Rheu, another French recruit for Paul Nicholls, could be the main danger.
BALGARRY (12.50) can defy top weight in the William Hill Download The App Handicap Chase. David Pipe’s nine-year-old, a smart handicap hurdler, stumbled and lost his rider at the water jump when fancied at Newbury. Balgarry had earlier jumped well out in front to beat Barrakilla at Taunton and this track should suit his forcing tactics. Balgarry ran really well at Sandown 12 months ago when chasing home Rayvin Black (big-race winner last weekend) and this may be the time of year to catch him.
The Coral Welsh Grand National on bottomless ground is arguably the most gruelling staying chase on the calendar and there will be no hiding place should the track beat the elements. SHOTGUN PADDY (1.45) let the side down last year but there were excuses as he planted himself following a farcical false start. He never found his rhythm thereafter and an early blunder put paid to his chances.
Emma Lavelle’s nine-year-old made a most satisfactory return over 3m 4f at Cheltenham’s Open meeting in November, beaten less than four lengths into fifth behind Sausalito Sunrise. Shotgun Paddy has won twice and finished third on his other Chepstow visits and should give us a good each-way spin.
Last year’s winner Emperor’s Choice is up 10lb and Bonanza Boy (1989) was the last back-to-back winner. The 2014 winner, Mountainous, is preferred under optimum conditions.
SYKES (1.10) beat The Eaglehaslanded over course and distance before running third to Missed Approach at Newbury’s Hennessy fixture. Sykes was given a lot to do that day, making up his ground quickly in the straight before those exertions took their toll in the closing stages. Philip Hobbs has decided to take off 5lb, with Claran Gethings booked.
At Lingfield, MODERNISM (12.10) is fancied to follow up his recent course and distance success in the Coral Handicap. Richard Fahey’s seven-year-old has been nudged up 2lb for beating Giantstepahead and Modernism holds the first-time blinkered Aleator on their course run behind useful Super Kid. Sheila’s Buddy finished fourth in this event last year off a 2lb lower rating and should be involved.
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