Every week we bring you tips of the weeks best horse racing. The tips run every Saturday – hence the name – and cover every race that’s televised on live TV in the UK. Normally there are six or seven races shown on ITV4, although this can vary slightly throughout the year. Tips are added each Friday afternoon.
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ITV Racing Tips for 20th February 2021 (Ascot, Haydock & Wincanton)
There is a feast of racing to enjoy this weekend with potential future stars of Cheltenham and the Grand National on show at several different tracks. What’s more, for the first time in what seems like a long time, it looks we should even have a full day of racing unaffected by the weather … unless we just jinxed it!
On Saturday, the best of the action takes place at Ascot and Haydock while Wincanton also hosts what should be an informative Kingwell Hurdle. As ever, the best races are being covered live by ITV Racing and we’ve gone through each of them to pick out the best Saturday racing tips below.
1:50 Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase
Grade 2, 3m
The Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase is a race that has long played an important role in the pre-Cheltenham build up. Its star has been on the wane a little bit in recent years and this year’s renewal has cut up with only six runners out of a possible 16 heading to Ascot for a crack at the 3m contest.
The withdrawal of some well fancied runners such as The Big Breakaway presents a good chance for Sevarano to return to winning ways. The eight-year-old’s start to life as a chaser could hardly have gone any better with a pair of wins but he made an early error when looking to bag a hat-trick last time out at Newbury. His jumping did slowly improve as he made his way around in that 2m6½ contest and connections are clearly hopeful that stepping up to 3m will bring out even more from him. Remastered is a tempting option at 5/1 but Sevarano could well prove to be the best of these and is a solid pick at decent odds of 3/1.
2:05 William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle
Grade 2, 3m½f
It has been a frustrating season so far for connections of Itchy Feet. After finishing third when sent off as the favourite on his reappearance at Aintree, he has found one too good in consecutive small field races at Ascot. There is no shame in losing to Imperial Aura and Dashel Drasher as he did though, and Olly Murphy’s seven-year-old has been backed into favouritism as he makes a return to the hurdling sphere.
The problem for Itchy Feet is that he always looked to be a better chaser than a hurdler. The same may not be true of Emitom who has failed to justify favouritism on both his starts over the bigger obstacles to date but is taken to follow up on his good fourth place in the Stayers’ Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festivals with a winning run at Haydock where Warren Greatrex’s seven-year-old can be backed at 9/2.
2:25 ‘My Oddsboost’ On Betfair Swinley Chase
Ascot is a tricky course. Many horses find it difficult to jump as they go down the hill and then the climb from Swinley Bottom up towards the finishing straight is very tough, so a number of horses who have otherwise jumped very well often make mistakes right at the end out of sheer exhaustion.
There will be some very tired horses come the end of the Swinley Chase but top weight Regal Encore can be trusted to get home despite his heavy load. Anthony Honeyball’s 13-year-old is a reliable sort who really comes alive at Ascot so his chances of at least hitting the frame must be respected at 10/1.
2:40 William Hill Grand National Trial Handicap Chase
Grade 3, 3m4½f
The weights for the Grand National were announced this week raising the anticipation levels for the big race at Aintree in April. A number of those in the field for this Grand National Trial have genuine chances of making an impact in the spring including Notachance, who became just the fourth seven-year-old winner of the Classic Chase at Warwick last month.
Notachance is a worthy favourite for this contest and absolutely does have a chance but it certainly look a very competitive affair with any of the nine runners in with a shot of winning. Therefore, it could well pay to try and take the favourite on with Lord Du Mesnil who is a 15/2 shot for Richard Hobson and Paul O’Brien. The best of his form is up there with any of his competitors but what really makes him stand out is his Haydock record. He won on both of his first two appearances here and can raise hopes of another big run on Merseyside with a win in this one.
3:00 Betfair Cheltenham Free Bet Pot Builder Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m3½f
Arrivederci made an excellent return in October when beating 17 rivals on soft ground at Wetherby. He travelled very well that day and then had enough in the tank to kick on when asked for his effort in the closing stages. That ability to finish strongly nearly saw him land Grade 3 success last time out at Ascot but he just ran into a horse who was too well treated on the day.
It has not been all plain sailing for Jonjo O’Neill’s six-year-old but there is no doubt that he is a horse on the up. The market certainly thinks so as he is the 6/1 favourite for this 16-runner handicap. There are a couple who make good each way appeal such as Albert’s Back (12/1) and Keppage (14/1) but we have a worthy favourite who should get the job done.
3:18 Betway Kingwell Hurdle
Grade 2, 1m7½f
The Kingwell Hurdle is more than big enough a contest to warrant ITV Racing turning their attentions to Wincanton on Saturday if only briefly. Much of that attention will be specifically targeted towards Goshen, the very highly rated five-year-old who has run incredibly poorly this season after unseating his rider when he had the Triumph Hurdle all but sewn up at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Gary Moore gave Goshen two starts on the flat in the autumn to see if that would spark him to life. It didn’t work with a couple of performances that were a long way from the best of his hurdle form from last season. His return to jumps racing was just as disappointing as his challenge tailed off worrying quickly in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham.
However, we are prepared to forgive him for all those poor runs. He was reported to have a fibrillating heart that day, a problem which has reportedly subsequently healed. If Goshen is fit and in the right frame of mind, he should prove too good for the competition and get his career back on track at 11/4.
3:35 Betfair Ascot Chase
Grade 1, 2m5f
It is very much a case of saving the best for last when it comes to this Saturday’s racing. The Ascot Chase is the sold Grade 1 of the day. It is a highly prestigious race and always involves some well fancied horses for the Cheltenham Festival but rather sadly only five are set to compete in this year’s edition.
That two of the horses are trained by Paul Nicholls is being seen as a big advantage for the number one runner from Ditcheat, Cyrname. Despite his disappointing run in the King George, there is no higher rated chaser currently in training than Cyrname and he is being backed as though defeat is almost out of the question, with 4/5 the best price available. For all Cyrname’s class, that is surely too short about a horse who has reliability concerns.
The tactics of the race are another concern for Cyrname backers. Nicholls said that he will return to the front-running approach that saw him win the Charlie Hall Chase but he is just one of three in the race who like to make the pace. His stablemate, Master Tommytucker is one of those front runners. Daryl Jacob knows he is on the second string Nicholls runner but Master Tommytucker won’t know the script and could just run the legs out of the rest of the field to score a big win at the far more attractive odds of 3/1.
- ITV Racing Tips for 13th February 2021 (Lingfield & Naas)
- ITV Racing Tips for 6th February 2021 (Sandown, Musselburgh & Leopardstown)
- ITV Racing Tips for 30th January 2021 (Doncaster & Lingfield)
- ITV Racing Tips for 23rd January 2021 (Ascot, Haydock & Taunton)
- ITV Racing Tips for 16th January 2021 (Warwick & Market Rasen)
- ITV Racing Tips for 9th January 2021 (Kempton, Wincanton & Chepstow)
- ITV Racing Tips for 2nd January 2021 (Sandown & Ayr)
- ITV Racing Tips for 26 December 2020 (Kempton & Wetherby)
- ITV Racing Tips for 19th December 2020 (Ascot & Haydock)
- ITV Racing Tips for 12th December 2020 (Cheltenham & Doncaster)
Saturday Racing Highlights
The hope for many of the owners in racing is that their horse is able to progress up the handicap ratings so they get a run in one of the big Saturday handicaps that take place all year round. Big field handicaps play an important role on the best Saturday meetings on the flat and over jumps as do prestigious Graded and Group level races.
Saturday usually brings the best racing of the week but not all Saturdays are equal. There are some real highlights in the horse racing calendar which we have detailed for you below. There is huge variety in terms of what we see, with the most famous NH contest in the world, Saturday at Royal Ascot and a number of Classics. Saturday racing highlights also include certain trials days, as well as standalone contests that may not have quite the same global appeal as, say, the Grand National, but are really big fixtures in the UK none the less.
Major Saturday Meetings
As you can see from this table, there is a great variety of races and meetings on Saturday for racing fans and punters to get their teeth stuck into. What’s more, with big meetings taking place every single month of the year, the wait for exciting racing should never be too hard to bear!
|Festival Trials Day||Cheltenham||January|
|Clarence House Chase||Ascot||January|
|Ascot Chase Day||Ascot||February|
|The Grand National||Aintree||April|
|Scottish Grand National||Ayr||April|
|Jumps Finale||Sandown Park||April|
|The Derby||Epsom Downs||June|
|King George Weekend||Ascot||July|
|Sprint Cup||Haydock Park||September|
|Ayr Gold Cup||Ayr||September|
|British Champions Day||Ascot||October|
|Vertem Futurity Trophy||Doncaster||October|
|The November Meeting||Cheltenham||November|
|Fighting Fifth Hurdle||Newcastle||November|
|Tingle Creek Chase||Sandown Park||December|
Festival Trials Day, Cheltenham
The biggest and most prestigious NH festival in the world takes place Tuesday to Friday in March but Cheltenham Trials Day is a major stepping stone towards the big one. This really marks the countdown to the Festival and sees a cracking day of racing.
It is also a great day to keep your racing notebook handy. In 2019, for example, Frodon, Paisley Park and Siruh Du Lac all delivered the goods on Trials Day before doubling up on the third day of the Festival a couple of months later. The card is full of interesting contests but the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial, the Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle, the Cleeve Hurdle and the feature, the Cotswold Chase, are the main highlights.
Clarence House Chase, Ascot
As well as its huge flat meeting later in the year, Ascot hosts some top notch NH racing at the start of the year and Clarence House Chase Day is certainly a brilliant Saturday of jumps horseracing. The feature is the 2m1f Grade 1 that lends its name to the day and is a great indication of who to look out for in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham. Seven horses have doubled up, including Sprinter Sacre and Altior.
Of course, the rest of the day’s card doesn’t quite live up to that, but the Mares’ Hurdle, a relatively recent addition and a Grade 2, and the Grade 3 Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle are the main supporting cast.
Ascot Chase Day, Ascot
The Ascot Chase is the last of three Grade 1 jumps contests held at the Berkshire course each year. Won by Kauto Star and twice by Cue Card, this is a really classy affair, with winners of this also often taking big prizes at Cheltenham the following month.
As well as the eponymous race, this Saturday, typically in mid-February, hosts a number of other really interesting races as well. The Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase, a Grade 2 run over three miles, is a key contest for those hoping to thrive in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. Also, look out for the Swinley Chase, a handicap that is always a great betting heat.
Winter Derby, Lingfield
The Winter Derby is one of the highlights of the year at Lingfield in Surrey. A Group 3, it is run on Lingfield’s all-weather surface and is one of the biggest winter contests for racing fans who like their action on the flat. Run over 1m2f, it was established in 1998 and is one of a very limited number of Group class races not to take place on turf.
Frankie Dettori has won the day’s feature race a record four times and he also has a win in the day’s other major race, the Hever Sprint Stakes. The Italian won that aboard No Time in 2004.
The Grand National, Aintree
The Grand National is the biggest race in all of British horseracing. It is the one race of the year that does more than any other to draw the attention of fans outside of racing to the sport. It is the feature race of the Grand National Festival at Aintree and comes on the final of the three days, always a Saturday.
It isn’t just about the big one though and other big races of the day include three Grade 1s – the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, the Maghull Novices’ Chase and the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle. It’s the marathon four mile two and a half furlong Grand National that draws the fans to the Merseyside track and sees millions tune from around the world though.
Scottish Grand National, Ayr
The Grand National at Aintree isn’t the only prestigious, long distance handicap of the year that takes place on a Saturday. The Scottish Grand National at Ayr follows its equivalent on Merseyside by just a few weeks. Several horses who ran at Aintree also contest the Scottish Grand National but the legendary Red Rum is the only horse to complete the double.
The Scottish Grand National features around 30 horses, all of which have to slog it around the 4 mile 1 furlong circuit (or as far as they can go before falling or being pulled up). It is always a fascinating watch and a race full of each way opportunities for punters.
Jumps Finale, Sandown Park
By the time April rolls around spring is very much in the air, which means racing fans are starting to turn their attention from jumps to the flat. The two-day Jumps Finale meeting at Sandown is a great way to celebrate the National Hunt season with some very big races taking place on Saturday including the Celebration Chase, the Gold Cup and the Select Hurdle.
Big name trainers like to send some of their top string to Sandown for one last hurrah before taking a break over the summer, but the Jumps Finale is also a chance for some improving sorts to lay down a marker for next season.
2,000 Guineas, Newmarket
The build-up to and early stages of the new Flat racing season always revolve around Newmarket in May for the first Classics of the season. The 2,000 Guineas is that first Classic, featuring a selection of the best three-year-old colts in training. Run over 1 mile, this historic race has been won by some of the best horses of all time since its inauguration all the way back in 1809.
The 2,000 Guineas always takes place on a Saturday in May and is followed by the fillies’ equivalent, the 1,000 Guineas, the next day. The day’s racing also includes the Palace House Stakes (a Group 3 sprint) and the Dahlia Fillies’ States (a Group 2 held over 1 mile 2 furlongs).
Lockinge Day, Newbury
The Lockinge is one of the major highlights at Newbury, a Group 1 of around a mile that includes the likes of Brigadier Gerard, Cape Cross and Frankel on the roll of honour. Held in mid-May, this is the clear highlight of the day and is the course’s only top level race on the calendar.
The Group 3 Aston Park Stakes is another one to watch out for on the day though, the one and a half mile race won back to back in 2018 and 2019 by Crystal Ocean. With a nice mix of other contests, including a couple of listed races, this is definitely a great Saturday to make a trip to Newbury.
The Derby, Epsom
The Derby is the second colts’ Classic of the season. Like the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby is open only to three-year-olds but is a markedly different race. For a start, the Derby takes place over 1½ miles so is a significantly tougher test of stamina. Then there are the severe undulations at Epsom that make life all the more challenging for the horses. Having the speed and early season fitness for the 2000 Guineas and then following that up with the stamina to win the Derby is the mark of an absolute star.
The Derby is arguably the most prestigious flat race in the entire world. It is certainly a contest that all owners, trainers and breeders want to have on their CV so it often sees international entries. Each of the jockeys competing in the Derby dream of winning it but they’re also enthused by some of the other races on the June card at Epsom including the Princess Elizabeth Stakes, the Diomed Stakes and the fillies’ Classic, the Oaks, which takes place the following day.
Royal Ascot, Ascot
There is no Flat racing meeting quite like Royal Ascot. It is Britain’s most valuable meeting by far, with over £7 million of prize money given out across its five days. The final day falls on Saturday and is massively popular with the racegoing public and those who prefer to watch on from the comfort of their own homes.
The organisers at Ascot like will often make changes to the schedule of the five days but they always ensure that there are several top class races to bring the curtain down on Saturday. The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Coronation Stakes and Wokingham Handicap have all played key roles on the final day of Royal Ascot in recent years but whatever the exact lineup, it is always a cracker.
Northumberland Plate, Newcastle
When Newcastle Racecourse decided to rip up its flat turf course and replace it with an all-weather layout there were more than a handful of dissenting voices. It is fair to say the decision has proven to be a wise one though as Newcastle now hosts a string of excellent all-weather contests whilst important historical races such as the Northumberland Plate have been given a new lease of life.
The Northumberland Plate is one of the richest 2 mile handicaps in Flat racing. It is always a hugely entertaining race and the betting is incredibly competitive. That has remained the case with the race taking place on the new Tapeta surface, even if it wasn’t one of those races threatened by unsuitable ground, taking place as it does in either late June or early July.
Eclipse Stakes, Sandown Park
Sandown Park hosts some top class Flat and National Hunt racing. When it comes to the summer months there is no bigger race at Sandown than the Eclipse Stakes (also known as the Coral-Eclipse). Named after one of racing’s early superstars from the 18th century, the Eclipse is a prestigious Group 1 race that takes place over the exact distance of 1 mile 1 furlong and 209 yards. It always hosts a high class field and is supported by a good card including the Coral Charge, Coral Distaff and some valuable handicaps.
Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Sadler’s Wells and Sea The Stars are just some of the equine legends to have landed the Eclipse in its long history. With a handsome purse up for grabs a top class field is guaranteed so this really is an excellent Saturday of racing.
July Festival, Newmarket
The July Festival isn’t at the same level as Royal Ascot but it is still a very important fixture on the Flat racing calendar. It was originally a midweek fixture but has been moved later in the week so that it now ends on a Saturday. The highlight on Saturday for many is the July Cup, a Group 1 sprint which can often throw up a surprise result. Those who prefer the opportunities presented by big field handicaps are also well catered for, with the Bunbury Cup the standout in that regard.
King George Weekend, Ascot
Top level racing makes a quick return to Ascot after the Royal meeting with King George Weekend which is held every July. As the name suggests, the headline of the meeting is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Run over a mile and a half, the Group 1 race is up there with the very best middle distance contests for older horses in Europe, on a par with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France.
The calibre of horses competing in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is always of the highest level. Every winner of this race is one of the best horses around but there is a special place for horses like Enable and Galileo who were able to serve it up to their elders in the July of their three-year-old campaign.
Glorious Goodwood, Goodwood
Like Royal Ascot and the Newmarket July Festival, Glorious Goodwoood is one of the jewels in the crown of the Flat racing season. Set in the picturesque course in the Sussex Downs, Glorious Goodwood is a huge draw for racing fans and includes more than enough high class racing to keep punters busy throughout the five days of superb action which culminate on a Saturday.
The pick of the races on Glorious Goodwood’s Saturday is the Stewards’ Cup, a sprint handicap in which a large field of over 20 horses compete in a mad dash for the line over 6 furlongs. A true cavalry charge, not only is the Stewards’ Cup one of the racing spectacles of the year, it’s also one of the most active betting markets.
Ebor Handicap, York
For many racing fans, the Ebor Festival at York is better than any of the prestigious meetings taking place at Ascot, Goodwood or Newmarket. York Racecourse has a passionate group of fans who always make the trip to the Saturday of the Ebor Festival which includes its feature race, the Ebor Handicap.
For some trainers and owners, the entire season is targeted around the Ebor Handicap. There are few staying handicaps with as much prestige or as big a prize fund as this 1 mile 5 furlong 188 yard contest. With its scheduling in mid-August, the weather even sometimes plays ball, making for a truly brilliant Saturday of racing in North Yorkshire.
Sprint Cup, Haydock
Jumps racing fans know Haydock as a haven for mudlarks. The ground at Haydock quickly becomes incredibly demanding if the rain falls. That doesn’t only happen in the winter months though as the going can often be testing for the Sprint Cup which takes place at Haydock in September. For that reason, this Group 1 sprint can often be won by an outsider, even though top class sprinters regularly head to Haydock for a race that awards the best part of £150,000 to the winner.
Ayr Gold Cup, Ayr
The Ayr Gold Cup is another huge prize in the Flat racing season. It’s an incredibly competitive six furlong handicap which attracts a big field to Scotland for one of Ayr’s most important Saturdays. Competition for a place is such that only horses with a high handicap rating get in which ensures that there are several horses with a realistic chance of winning once the race gets underway.
As if it wasn’t already a tough enough puzzle for punters to piece together, there are always hard luck stories in running in this frantic race. It really is a contest that often demands bravery on behalf of the winning jockey to take advantage of a space as soon as it opens up, so experience and skill in the saddle are a must.
Cambridgeshire Handicap, Newmarket
By the time the Cambridgeshire Handicap comes around in late September the vast majority of the Flat racing season is behind us and thoughts are beginning to turn to the jumps. Oftentimes that means more inclement weather and softer ground, so horses who haven’t had much success over the summer months can often roar back to form. That is, of course, providing that they’ve done well enough to maintain an official rating high enough to get into this 1m1f race which takes place on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.
British Champions Day, Ascot
The anticipation and excitement about certain horses at the start of the Flat racing season doesn’t always translate into success during it. Some horses simply fail to fire as expected whilst others improve seemingly out of nowhere to win massive races. So it is that the stars of British Champions Day at Ascot always include horses who had rather modest ambitions in the spring.
British Champions Day was introduced in 2011 as a way to celebrate the success of the season and create another top class card. There are four Group 1 races during the day – the British Champions Sprint Stakes, British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes – and a Group 2, the British Champions Long Distance Cup; as well as the Balmoral Handicap to round the meeting off.
Vertem Futurity Trophy, Doncaster
The Vertem Futurity Trophy is the final Group 1 of the Flat racing season. Many racing fans may still call it the Racing Post Trophy, so long was it known by that moniker. Whatever you call it, it is a race for top class two-year-olds to show what they are capable of over 1 mile and has produced a number of top class winners over the years. No fewer than five winners of the Vertem Futurity Trophy have gone on to win the Derby, whilst 2019 winner, Kameko, followed up with victory in the 2,000 Guineas as well.
Kameko’s win also created history as it was the first Group 1 to be held on an all-weather track in Britain after the race was switched to Newcastle after the course at the usual host, Doncaster, was waterlogged. Abandonment of the final day of the Autumn Afternoon Meeting at Doncaster is rare but soft ground certainly is not at this time of year.
The November Meeting, Cheltenham
The November Meeting (formerly known as the Open Meeting) at Cheltenham is the first major meeting of the British jumps season. In many ways this is the start of the winter season of racing and in others it’s a precursor for the Cheltenham Festival.
There are some key differences between this and the Festival in March though. For one, the November Meeting takes place over the weekend from Friday to Sunday. Saturday’s card features many of the highlights of the November Meeting including the BetVictor Gold Cup, a 2½ mile, Grade 3 steeplechase.
Betfair Chase, Haydock
The Betfair Chase is the highlight of the racing calendar at Haydock and this November slog is the course’s only Grade 1. It has been won four times by Kauto Star, with Cue Card successful thrice. Run over more than three miles, it is the first Grade 1 of the NH season and has at times been part of a £1m scheme for any horse that could land it as well as enjoy success in other races.
The Betfair Million has changed format over the years and is now known as the Stayers’ Chase Triple Crown. This contest is the first leg, with success in the King George VI and Cheltenham Golden Cup needed for connections to scoop the million. Aside from this potentially lucrative chase, the Saturday’s racing action also includes the Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle, a Grade 3.
Fighting Fifth Hurdle, Newcastle
It isn’t just chasing that has its Triple Crown and the hurdling equivalent kicks off with the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle at the end of November or start of December. Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham complete the £1m set, the brilliant Buveur d’Air claiming the bonus in 2017/18 as part of a streak of five consecutive Triple Crown titles.
As well as the eponymous Grade 1, Newcastle’s biggest Saturday of racing also typically hosts six other races, with an early start before midday. There is a nice mix of hurdles and chase action, with novices, maidens and juvenile contests all taking place.
Ladbrokes Trophy, Newbury
The Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury is the feature race of the course’s Winter Festival. The event organisers at Newbury do a very good job of putting on an excellent day of festivities for the large numbers of fans who pour through the gates whilst the racing itself is well worth getting excited about.
At 3 mile 2 furlongs, the Ladbrokes Trophy is a proper test of stamina. The Grade 3 race has been won by some top class chasers over the years as they are tested out against other quality competitors. Punters and racing fans always have a keen eye on Newbury for the next Denman, Native River or Many Clouds.
Tingle Creek Chase, Sandown Park
December is a massive month for jumps racing thanks largely to a packed Christmas schedule. Before the King George VI Chase at Kempton it’s all eyes on Sandown Park for the Tingle Creek Chase.
This contest is run over the minimum distance for a steeplechase of 2 miles and is therefore often used by some of the leading hopes for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Several horses have won both races including Altior and Sprinter Sacre but it has also been won by future Cheltenham Gold Cup horses, including the legendary Desert Orchid and Kauto Star.