Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Newbury and Kelso on Saturday. View selections below.
HITHERJACQUES LADY (3.00) can trump a hatful of in-form mares in the National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Finale at Newbury.
With 17 runners declared there is plenty of each-way action available and Hitherjacques Lady is chasing a hat-trick having landed the odds at Lingfield and Wincanton last month. Both tracks were riding deep but she handled better ground at Ludlow when third to Tara View and Wizard’s Sliabh before Christmas.
All three mares renew rivalry, with little separating them on the book, but Oliver Sherwood likes to target this race, having won back-to-back finals a few years ago with Jaunty Flight and Argento Luna.
It will be interesting to see how top weight Tara View performs away from her beloved Ludlow, while Fergal O’Brien puts first-time cheekpieces on Wizard’s Sliabh.
No trainer has a better record in this event than Nicky Henderson who relies on Theatre Territory, the mount of Sam Waley-Cohen. She was beaten 20 lengths when fourth of five behind Colin’s Sister at Sandown last month but her third to Coillte Lass and Dusky Legend at Taunton at December was a better effort.
Philip Hobbs’ Copper Kay warmed up with a bloodless victory over inferior opposition at Doncaster following good placed efforts behind classy sorts La Bague Au Roi and Dusky Legend.
Snow Leopardess was behind Copper Kay at Newbury and has since disappointed slightly when a one-paced third at Doncaster when sent off a warm favourite.
Miss Tongabezi, an eight-length Ludlow scorer under her 10lb claimer, is clearly improving, a remark which also applies to Venetia Williams’ frontrunner Grand Torina.
SHOTAVODKA (1.50) seems to come alive at Newbury and bounced back to form with a course and distance third to Just A Par and No Duffer in a veterans’ event three weeks ago. He won that event the previous year, beating Pete The Feat by 11 lengths, and they reoppose on similar terms.
Call Me Vic is at home on good ground/flat track and has been given a nice break by Tom George since beating Baileys Concerto at Aintree in December.
Dawson City was left clear three out and came home by a wide margin at Wincanton on heavy ground. It is difficult to evaluate the strength of that form.
Similarly, Coolking has been bossing less talented horses in the mud around Plumpton and Lingfield, but is in great shape for Gary Moore.
Killala Quay pipped Saint Are and Ericht in a thrilling veteran’s handicap at Doncaster, while Pete The Feat had Cloudy Too well in arrears when landing a similar event at Sandown in January.
Philip Hobbs tries cheekpieces on the disappointing Vieux Lille.
DON BERSY (3.35) goes from strength to strength and can notch another victory in the juvenile handicap hurdle.
After beating useful Dino Velvet at Warwick and Coeur De Lion at Sandown, Don Bersy met slightly sterner opposition in the Victor Ludorum at Haydock but proved too strong for Zalvados.
At Kelso, local trainer Sandy Thomson has prospects of saddling a double with SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT (2.40) and SELDOM INN (3.15).
Seeyouatmidnight needs little introduction, having acquitted himself at a high level over fences in recent seasons. He beat Bristol de Mai by 12 lengths in a match at Carlisle back in November and hasn’t been seen since pulling up behind Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Seeyouatmidnight reverts to hurdles for the first time since running seventh to Cole Harden in the 2015 World Hurdle at Cheltenham but he will be well at home on the anticipated testing ground. On his only previous visit to Kelso he whipped Silsol, last year’s winner of this race, by 13 lengths in a novices’ chase and then beat subsequent RSA Chase winner Blaklion at Cheltenham.
There is little to choose between recent Ayr protagonists Isaacstown Lad and Shades Of Midnight, so take your pick.
Like many of Venetia Williams’ horses, Eminent Poet revelled in a Lingfield bog earlier this month and the six-year-old’s career is on an upwards curve.
Lucinda Russell’s Big River boasts winning course form and should go well from the foot of the handicap.
SELDOM INN smashed up his rivals here earlier in the month, inflicting a wide-margin defeat on Tenor Nivernais and Le Mercurey. It is difficult picking holes in his form around Kelso which include a 21-length victory over Ballybroker Breeze and a maiden hurdle success.
Baywing looks a threat, despite top weight. Nicky Richards’ gelding was a 33-1 rag when spread-eagling some decent sorts at Wetherby and Ryan Day’s 5lb claim comes in very handy. Baywing reeled off four straight wins on heavy last season, so conditions will suit.
Yala Enki, an impressive winner of the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock, has been let down by some sloppy jumping of late, albeit in better company, but is useful on his day.
Silver Tassie beat Courtown Oscar at Ayr two weeks ago in the manner of an improved chaser.
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