Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with eight to follow on Saturday at Newcastle, Kempton and Lingfield. View selections below
A terrific days racing and we start our preview at Newcastle where the feature race is the 4m Eider Chase with the last three winners of the race (no race in 2013) Portrait King (2012), Wyck Hill (2014) and Milborough (2015) all scheduled to face the tape in the 17-runner field.
The each way vote, however, goes to Rocking Blues (2.50) despite the fact that he has stamina, and the ability to handle a big field, to prove. That said the selection, who is 8/1 at BetVictor, is 9lbs well-in at the weights having been raised 15lbs for a facile Kelso success under today’s 10lbs claimer Lorcan Murtagh, although he will carry just a 6lbs penalty for that win today.
Trained by Rose Dobbin the gelding is 11-years-of-age but has been a revelation in recent outings and if his young, but talented, jockey can get him into a nice rhythm over the early fences he might have more to offer tackling 4m for the first time.
Wyck Hill hasn’t won since landing the corresponding race off the same mark a couple of years and was an early casualty in this race 12 months ago; any overnight rain would help.
Draytonian (2.20) met the third last wrong at Kempton on his handicap debut but he was well supported on that occasion and he has bits of novice hurdle form which suggest he could be well handicapped off his current mark. He will jump a fence in time but this is a valuable prize and he travels all the way up from Minehead for Philip Hobbs.
Hobbs saddles the penalised Shambougg in the Bumper but preference is for Lambourn raider Boudry (5.05) who has shaped well in both starts to date and represents a yard (Warren Greatrex) with a particularly good record in this type of event.
A disappointing turn-out for the Pendil Novices’ Chase at Kempton where I hope to see an improved show from The Saint James (2.35) stepped up to a more suitable trip for Jonjo O’Neill. Barry Geraghty takes the ride and with the yard in better form the 5-y-old can take advantage of the weight he receives from his four rivals.
Geraghty can double up with the unbeaten Winter Escape (3.05) in the Dovecote Hurdle; the selection has won both starts at Doncaster in the manner of a decent novice and is currently 20/1 for the Supreme at next month’s Festival. It wouldn’t surprise me if he were to avoid Cheltenham and head to Aintree although he must first pass today’s test.
The Betbright Chase is a very competitive heat and let’s hope all 16 stand their ground for each way purposes. I’m long forward to seeing Champagne West stepping up to 3m for the first time this season and Hadrian’s Approach make a belated seasonal reappearance. The former is far too short in the betting (5/1) however and the latter is entitled to come on for his first run in 392 days.
Ruben Cotter (3.35) is 16/1 at BetVictor but has a great record fresh, will appreciate the drying ground and was a winner over 2m 4f last season on the only other time he was partnered by Nick Schofield. He can reward each way support for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
I’m glad to see Alan King persevere with conditional Jamie Insole who rode McCabe Creek (4.10) to victory at Doncaster earlier in the month from an 8lbs lower mark despite losing his irons. Another for whom the drying ground is a plus and the slight step up in trip should also suit.
Winter Derby Day at Lingfield and Festive Fare (3.20) can reverse recent C&D form with Grendisar for Charlie Appleby who saddled the winner of the corresponding race 12 months ago with Tryster.
The selection has half a length to find with Grendisar but has a cracking draw in stall three, Andrea Atzeni takes over in the plate and 11/4 with BetVictor looks a decent price. Battalion would be a big danger but stall ten of ten tempers confidence.
Be lucky Charlie