Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Cheltenham and Lingfield on Saturday. View selections below.
AS DE MEE (2.25) looks nicely treated in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham and Paul Nicholls’ gelding enjoys a big weight pull over favourite More Of That of their running in the novices’ chase at this meeting 12 months ago.
As De Mee attempted to make all that day but was caught up the run-in by More Of That. They were meeting on level terms but As De Mee enjoys a significant 15lb turnaround for just over two lengths, so his chance has to be taken seriously.
He was entitled to win a beginners’ chase on his seasonal return at Fontwell last month and duly did the business with little fuss.
More Of That boasts a brilliant Cheltenham record and is a formidable opponent.
Having taken the scalp of Annie Power in the World Hurdle, More Of That quickly made his mark over fences by beating As De Mee in the aforementioned novices’ chase. Jonjo O’Neill’s eight-year-old was turned out again at Cheltenham a month later to mop up another novices’ chase and his third to Blaklion in the 2015 RSA Chase was another rock-solid run.
The race is littered with course specialists. Annacotty bids to retain his crown having won this race last year off a 9lb lower mark. He could manage only sixth the following month when Village Vic’s aggressive front-running style demolished his rivals in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (Buywise fourth and Art Mauresque seventh). Village Vic is 19lb higher now but goes well fresh.
Nicholls saddles four runners, including last Saturday’s Wincanton scorer Frodon under a 5lb penalty. This is a tough assignment for a four-year-old but he is clearly progressive.
It is a big day for Colin Tizzard as Thistlecrack continues his education over fences in the novices’ chase but at much bigger odds stablemate VALHALLA (3.00) is worth an interest in the 3m 1f handicap hurdle.
The six-year-old is still relatively short on experience (seventh run here) but he jumped like an old hand when chasing home Midnight Shot here over 2m 5f at the October fixture. Valhalla was building on a solid third to useful The Romford Pele at Newton Abbot a fortnight earlier.
Philip Hobbs’ course winner Fingal Bay is a battle-hardened handicapper and looks sure to give another good account under a big weight.
A prominent showing from Valhalla will underline the chance of MIDNIGHT SHOT (3.35) in the 2m 5f handicap.
Charlie Longsdon’s six-year-old has been a revelation since adopting front-running tactics, so rewarding at Fontwell before that latest Cheltenham success over this trip.
There is some competitive all-weather action at Lingfield where KIMBERELLA (12.50) can find due recompense for some excellent efforts in recent weeks.
Following a fine fifth to Brando in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup, Kimberella scored a couple of weeks later at Ripon. Since then Dandy Nicholls’ six-year-old has competed at a high level. He was a bit short of room at a crucial stage when third to Growl at Doncaster last Saturday and looks sure to go close if adapting to the synthetic surface. Stall three is a good perch.
Lord Of The Land showed an electric burst of speed to tack over and lead from a wide draw over seven furlongs here last time. David O’Meara’s charge kept up a relentless gallop to score readily but may not get his own way out in front over this shorter trip against some seasoned sprinters.
GRENDISAR (2.00) boasts a formidable record around Lingfield’s tight turns and returns from a 232-day lay-off in the Betway Churchill Stakes.
Marco Botti’s entire found only Godolphin’s hot favourite Let’s Go too strong in this race 12 months ago and he is closely matched with Energia Davos on previous form over course and distance.
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