Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Uttoxeter and Kempton Park on Saturday. View selections below.
The Betfred Midlands Grand National is habitually run in a mudbath but SPOOKYDOOKY (3.35) will appreciate the forecast better ground at Uttoxeter.
Jonjo O’Neill also had Catching On entered but relies on Spookydooky, an excellent third in the Devon National at Exeter in February, and a horse that run fourth in this 4m 1f marathon 12 months ago.
Cogry finished one place in front of my selection that day but Spookydooky, who made a howler at the opening fence and found himself a little adrift, is 11lb better off.
Cogry has an obvious chance along with Mysteree, attempting to pocket the sponsors’ cash once again after landing the Betfred Eider Chase at Newcastle. That win came on deep ground but he is clearly in great heart. Portrait King was unluckily brought down at the first fence and stamina is his forte.
Chase The Spud is 13lb better off with Mysteree for a three-length beating at Haydock in November, while Paul Morgan’s Court Frontier is on a four-timer.
Goulanes won this event two years ago when trained by David Pipe but has been very lightly raced for Neil Mullholland.
A more enticing prospect could be Gonalston Cloud, chasing a big-race win for Nick Kent following a couple of second prizes at Catterick and Musselburgh.
AMERICAN (2.25) bypassed Cheltenham and looks capable of carrying top weight to victory in the Betfred TV Novices’ Handicap Chase.
This will be his sixth run for Harry Fry and he prefers a bit of juice underfoot. Hopefully the track hasn’t dried out too much for American, a winner at Exeter in November when accounting for Label Des Obeaux, and more recently at Warwick when defeating Champers On Ice.
There are some smart rivals in opposition, with dual Chepstow scorer Rock The Kasbah and Sue Smith’s bold front-runner Hainan well capable on their day.
Only 15 are declared for the handicap hurdle, which isn’t ideal for each-way wagers, but FORTUNATE GEORGE (3.00) looks a solid option.
Emma Lavelle’s gelding has produced a series of excellent efforts in tough handicaps since scoring at Wincanton last April. His third to Forthefunofit at Ascot in February reads well, as does his second to Lord Of The Island at Sandown on heavy ground.
Lucinda Russell does well at Uttoxeter with her Scottish raiders and Sky Khan is well treated if able to recapture last season’s excellent form. A tongue-tie is added to the usual cheek-pieces.
At Kempton’s ‘Cheltenham consolation’ meeting, a big field lines up for the Matchbook-sponsored Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle and GOLDEN SPEAR (2.40) has a terrific record under both codes for Tony Martin, running fifth in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket and producing a series of solid efforts over hurdles.
Golden Spear looked unlucky (third) in a 20-runner Leopardstown handicap hurdle in January, with Denis O’Regan encountering traffic problems as he attempted to pick his way through a maze of runners down on the rail.
On his last trip across the Irish Sea Golden Spear finished a creditable fourth to Brain Power at Ascot and he remains feasibly treated.
Top Tug should appreciate the step up to 2m 5f, while Duke Street was touched off by Aldreth (scored again on Thursday) at Chelmsford and has solid credentials over hurdles.
Ian Williams has string in rampant form and Byron Flyer should go well at a price.
The Matchbook Silver Bowl Handicap Chase can fall to the lightly-raced MAX WARD (3.15). Tom George hasn’t over-extended his eight-year-old and there looked more to come when he chased home Theatre Flame at Newbury in January, attempting to concede 9lb to the winner.
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