• Tue 23 Jul, 2024
  • 12:11 BST
  • 08:11 EST (BST-4)
  • 14:11 CEST (BST+2)

Five to follow on Saturday

Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Cheltenham and Doncaster on Saturday. View selections below.

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SANTINI (2.25) seemed ring-rusty on his return at Sandown in November but Nicky Henderson will have him suitably wound up to land the Paddy Power Cotswolds Chase on Trials Day at Cheltenham.

His gelding has shown a liking for Prestbury Park, running on into third from a poor position behind winner Kilbricken Storm in the 2018 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Last March Santini split very useful pair Topofthegame and Delta Work in the RSA Chase and is preferred to chief market rival Bristol De Mai.

Nigel Twiston-Davies ran the grey three times in 2019, with Bristol De Mai well held by Lostintranslation in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on his last outing. He excelled himself in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, running third to Al Boum Photo, but was a little flat the following month when only fourth to Kemboy at Aintree. He was sent off 7-4 favourite for the 2018 Cotswolds Chase but managed only third to Definitly Red on heavy ground.

PROTEKTORAT (3.00) has no easy task conceding weight all round in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle but he is a tough customer. After chasing home Mack The Man at Sandown, Dan Skelton’s gelding was involved in a controversial demotion after finishing first past the post at Cheltenham, just denying Imperial Alcazar.

King Roland, the likely favourite, found Son Of Camas just too strong at Newbury at the end of November but hacked up in more modest company next time at Exeter. Colin Tizzard’s Harry Senior appears to be improving and is another to consider.

AZZERTI (3.15) has been nibbled all week in the ante-post market and is worth an each-way punt in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster.

Second-season novices are always worth a second look and after scoring over 2m 4f at Newbury, Azzerti was staying on at the business end when sixth to Oldgrangewood and Kalashnikov at the same track. With the winner going in at again next time at Cheltenham, that piece of form is eye-catching.

Deep ground was all against Azzerti at Ascot and he will appreciate drying conditions on Town Moor. Alan King also saddles possible market leader Dingo Dollar but having bet him

to land this event 12 months ago, the memory of his dismal performance that day tempers enthusiasm. Calipto, placed last year, appreciates a sound surface and should again go well at a loud price.

Cases can be made for all five runners in the River Don Novices’ Hurdle, with slight preference for CHAMPAGNE WELL (2.05). Fergal O’Brien has sent him to Cheltenham for his last three starts, beating Braid Blue in October before twice walking off with second prizes behind Thyme Hill and Redford Road respectively. Boss Man Fred is unbeaten in three starts for the Skelton boys and his easy course and distance success at the end of December entitles him to plenty of respect.

LADY BUTTONS (2.40) will be a popular choice to emulate last year’s narrow victory in the Mares’ Hurdle. She had a neck to spare over Indefatigable 12 months ago and it is likely to be a tight affair once again, with comfortable Newbury winner Floressa receiving 4lb.

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