Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Sandown, Leopardstown and Lingfield on Saturday. View selections below.
FOXROCK (3.40) rates a knocking each-way wager around 7-1 to upset Road To Riches in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
Ted Walsh’s gelding loves it around the Dublin track and was only denied close home by Carlingford Lough 12 months ago, with the winner given a typical never-say-die Tony McCoy ride. On his last Leopardstown visit Foxrock ran third to Don Poli in the Lexus Chase, beaten only a length, and the first-time blinkers applied that day are retained.
Road To Riches is an odds-on shot and his quality was there for all to see at Cheltenham in March when chasing home Coneygree and Djakadam in the Gold Cup and he made a satisfactory return over a shorter trip at Clonmel in November when accounting for Bright New Dawn.
Fields have cut up disappointingly at Sandown but a mouth-watering clash between BRISTOL DE MAI (2.25) and Tea For Two is in prospect in the Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase.
Bristol De Mai couldn’t get to grips with fast improver Ar Mad over course and distance in November but has mopped up his last two starts, at Haydock and Leicester, with little fuss. Nigel Twiston- Davies’ rising star handles soft ground and jumps well, and similar attributes are boasted by Tea For Two.
The mount of Lizzie Kelly for her stepfather Nock Williams, Tea For Two landed the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and was strikingly impressive on his chasing debut at Exeter earlier that month. The sight of these two starlets attacking the railway fences should be a joy to behold and Bristol De Mai’s class may carry the day.
Lanzarote Hurdle winner YALA ENKI (3.00) and third placed Ibis Du Rheu lock horns again in the Betfred-sponsored three-mile handicap hurdle. Yala Enki is 9lb worse off for just under four lengths but the extra three furlongs may suit him better as he was staying on powerfully at Kempton. At bigger odds, last year’s 20-1 winner Invicta Lake, fourth to improving Taj Badalandabad at Huntingdon last time, could go well off a similar rating.
The ‘old’ Unioniste would mop up the Betfred Masters Handicap Chase but he has shown nothing in both starts this term. Stablemate Black Thunder probably has better prospects for Paul Nicholls but a chance is taken on SEVENTH SKY (3.30) bouncing back to winning ways.
The assessor didn’t take kindly to his easy Haydock success in December and Seventh Sky was slightly out of his depth next time at Cheltenham and when fourth to Cloudy Too in the Peter Marsh Chase on his most recent run. He has been dropped 2lb and, more importantly, Seventh Sky looks the only natural front-runner in the field. He is hard to catch when let loose on the lead.
There is some cracking Polytrack action at Lingfield, with GRENDISAR (2.55) a worthy favourite to bag the Coral.co.uk Winter Derby Trial. Marco Botti’s gelding edged out Lamar last year and is 7lb better off with that consistent rival. He found one too good on two visits to the track before Christmas and is a real track specialist. Adam Kirby takes the mount and stall six is a reasonable berth.
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