Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with nine selections this weekend; four at Doncaster on Saturday and five at Ascot on Sunday. View selections below
Just a week to the greatest horse race in the world and BetVictor announced yesterday that they are betting each way six places on the Grand National with immediate effect. On Merseyside Derby Day Definitly Red I most certainly am not, but I think there will be a nationwide gamble on Brian Ellison’s horse and the suggestion is if you fancy the horse get on early – he is currently 10/1 joint favourite at BetVictor and I would be very surprised if he goes off a double-figure price next weekend.
The first leg of the Spring Double the Lincoln Handicap is the big betting race of the day and it is hard to get away from the chances of favourite Yuften (3.35) who is only 4lbs higher than when landing a valuable Ascot mile handicap back in October. The selection ran a cracker at Wolverhampton over a furlong shorter in listed company last month and must have a favourite’s chance (4/1 at BetVictor) despite the poor showing of market leaders in recent years.
At a bigger price, the enigmatic Gabrial (20/1 with BetVictor) bids to give trainer Richard Fahey a third win in the race in the last six years and at 20/1 he looks primed to go close with Adam McNamara excellent value for this 3lbs claim.
In the opener I am looking forward to seeing Birchwood (1.50) revert to sprinting, having been tried over a mile and seven furlongs as a three-year-old. William Buick is in the saddle in the Godolphin colours for Richard Fahey and the drying ground is no inconvenience.
Stormy Antarctic (3.00) would not want the ground to dry out too much but he did win first time out last season and the forecast good to soft ground looks ideal. The selection did run some good races on good ground including when runner up in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat back in July. Trainer Ed Walker has his string in good form and 3/1 looks a fair price at BetVictor.
National winning jockey Liam Tredwell rides Optimistic Bias (5.25) in the 3m Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter and the horse has run two good races since joining the stable of James Evans who had a winner at Southwell earlier in the week. The selection is still a maiden over fences but has been dropped 3lbs since his last run and will be a big price in a competitive three-mile chase.
At Ascot on Sunday, I hope to see the real Clondaw Cracker (2.00) in the opening maiden hurdle. The selection won a point in his native Ireland before landing a Warwick Bumper 12 months ago. He was backed as if defeat was out of the question for his hurdles debut but broke a blood vessel and was pulled up. He has been given five-months to get over those exertions and remains a horse of some potential.
Percy Street (2.30) finished a good sixth in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham last month and is taken to confirm Festival running with stablemate Domperignon Du Lys and Dolos on the revised terms. The selection will appreciate today’s underfoot conditions although I think Dolos will appreciate today’s track more than Cheltenham’s undulations.
The 2m 5f Novices’ Chase is a belter with marginal preference for Brother Tedd (3.05) who receives weight from his principle rivals. The selection missed the deep winter ground and should be fresher than most – he is taken to see of the challenge of Value At Risk and Present Man in a cracking contest.
Imperial Presence (3.40) did us a favour at a sunny Newbury last weekend and the hope is that he is as equally effective having to jump all the fences given the only had to leave the ground six times in two miles!
It is wonderful to see Puffin Billy back on track in the conditional jockey’s handicap hurdle after over 700 days on the sidelines. I’m going to take a chance on Westendorf (4.50) who looked ready for a step up to 3m when a staying on fifth over 2m 4f in a valuable Sandown event last time.