Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Warwick, Wetherby and Lingfield. View selections below
Trainer Alan King has saddled the winner of today’s feature the marathon 3m 5f Betfred Classic Chase twice in the last six years at Warwick and the inform handler is doubly represented again with market leader Sego Success and former Cheltenham Festival winner Midnight Prayer (3.35) and the latter gets the each way vote.
Sego Success improved for the application of first time cheek-pieces at Doncaster last time and a 7lbs hike for that improved effort looks fair enough. Of more concern for his supporters, however, is that there are at least a couple of today’s field who also like to make the running and it will take another career best for the favourite to defy the steadier of 11st 12lbs.
Midnight Prayer has only raced twice since winning the 4mile NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2014, but ran a race full of promise when fourth at Newbury on his sole start this season back in November. He was a late absentee from the Welsh National and the forecast heavy ground is a concern, but he has stamina to burn and his useful conditional takes off a valuable 3lbs.
In the Edward Courage Cup Laser Hawk is interesting despite top weight for Evan Williams, although my two against the field are Walk In The Mille, whose yard are in much better form than when he disappointed last time, and Morning Reggie (1.15) with preference for the latter.
The selection jumped violently out to the left at Wincanton last time and, in the circumstances, it was an excellent run to be beaten only 12 lengths. His career record in now 0-8 going right-handed but 2-9 going anti-clockwise and the handicapper might have been lenient in dropping him a couple of pounds.
Ruby Walsh stays in Ireland to ride at Naas but Danny Mullins makes the trip across the Irish Sea to ride Black Hercules (1.50) for Willie Mullins and I am looking forward to watching his second start over fences. The 7-year-old is currently 8/1 jt fav with BetVictor for the 4m NH Chase at Cheltenham in March although I am convinced he has the necessary speed for today’s 3m trip and indeed the RSA Chase. The problem, however, is that the latter race looks like being a vintage renewal this year with More Of That and No More Heroes looking exceptional Novice staying chasers this term.
Thomas Hobson is likely to be all the rage in the 2m 5f Leamington Novices’ Hurdle for Mullins but Ballagh (3.00) finished runner up in the corresponding race last year, receives weight from all eight rivals and the opening tissue was 20/1. He won’t be anywhere near that price I’m afraid but at about 8/1 can reward each way support.
At Wetherby L’Ami Serge should enhance his Festival credentials in the Novices’ Chase running beyond the minimum trip for the first time. The yard believe he is a seriously good horse, but does the step up in trip suggest they might be favouring the JLT (2m 4f) at the Festival rather than the Arkle and, thus, bypass a meeting with Douvan who has looked quite exceptional in both starts over fences this term.
In the opener I am sweet on the chances of the hurdling newcomer Rolling Thunder (12.25) for Donald McCain; the selection has scope, is a winning point-to-pointer and finished a decent second at Sedgefield on his Rules debut in a Bumper. The winner (Tomngerry) bolted up at Catterick under a penalty earlier in the week and this is a race that is often won by a decent sort.
At Lingfield I like the look of Hold Tight (2.20) in the 6f handicap for Godolphin and excellent 3lb apprentice Alistair Rawlinson who is a young jockey we are going to hear an awful lot more of. The selection is dropping back in trip having led at this 6f trip when runner up over 7f here back in October.