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 18th April 2021 (Newbury & Ayr)
The weekend’s sporting schedule in Britain has been very quickly changed to ensure that nothing takes place during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. One of the consequences of this respectful tribute to the late Duke of Edinburgh is that the Scottish Grand National card at Ayr has been moved to Sunday alongside a good card of Flat racing at Newbury.
So, for one week only, our Saturday Racing Tips cover the action taking place on Sunday. It promises to be a day of racing that is well worth waiting for, however, with plenty on offer besides the main event of the Scottish Grand National.
1:00 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden Stakes
Class 4, 1m
Sunday’s racing action kicks off with a maiden race involving a number of horses making their debut. Some of these have already had a taste of competitive racing including Snow Lantern who was second on debut behind Zabeel Queen who has run well enough subsequently to be entered for the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Irish Oaks. It was a slow start that cost Snow Lantern on her debut. She will have learned from that and should take a big enough step forward to win her maiden at Newbury.
1:15 Scotty Brand Handicap Chase
The return to better spring ground has brought about an exciting change in fortunes for many horses. Among the 15 horses in the field for the Scotty Brand Handicap, Some Reign is perhaps the happiest racing in the spring.
Rose Dobbin found opportunities tough to come by for her 10 year old and had an unwelcome reminder of just how much this horse doesn’t enjoy difficult conditions when Some Reign finished right at the back of the pack on heavy ground at Wetherby in December. He was much, much better when last seen at Carlisle earlier this month and can build on that win to go in again at odds of 9/2.
1:35 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes
Group 3, 1m4f
One of the few positives of last season’s challenges is the number of three year olds who have remained in training over the summer. Even without the pause in proceedings last year, connections of Thunderous would surely have ensured that he returned this year as he had his problems. But he showed that he is a potentially top-class middle-distance performer with his Dante Stakes win at York.
As successful as Thunderous is likely to be this season, the strengths that he’s shown so far suggest most of that success will come over 1m2f and that this trip may just be a little too much of a stretch. That opens the door for Al Aasy who had problems of his own getting to the course last season. Unlike Thunderous, Al Aasy looks perfectly matched for 1m4f on the sort of good ground that he’ll encounter at Newbury on Sunday so he makes more appeal at a price of 15/8.
1:50 CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase
Class 2, 3m
The racing at Ayr on Sunday includes a number of competitive races and the CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase very much fits that bill. Less than 20 pounds covers the field from top to bottom and the top of the betting features horses from both ends of the weights. Bookies’ favourite Pilbara is interesting for Emmet Mullins but this is his first race since October and he may find that a lack of race sharpness costs him.
The standout option in the betting could be The Butcher Said who is available at 14/1. Olly Murphy’s eight year old is behind only two in the ratings but he has run at a higher level than this and his mark of 135 is lower than when he last won in September. There is no doubt that The Butcher Said has been disappointing lately but he has generally travelled well before fading away in the closing stages. He has run very well at this time of year before and will love the good ground at Ayr so if he can hang on in the final half a mile he can earn a place at odds of 14/1.
2:10 Dubai Duty Free Stakes
Group 3, 7f
Oisin Murphy has made a solid start to the turf Flat season but is hoping that his quest for a hat-trick of jockey championships. He will expect Alcohol Free to add multiple wins to his tally over the course of the coming weeks. Murphy spoke glowingly about this Andrew Balding-trained horse when a two year old last year and hopes are high that she will turn into a very exciting three year old.
Alcohol Free’s sole defeat in her three starts last season came against Happy Romance, who is the second favourite behind her in the betting for this Group 3 contest. Alcohol Free was able to reverse that form next time out in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes in September and is 3/1 to beat that rival again. The only real concern is that this is her first step up to seven furlongs but if she is found out by a longer trip it’s most likely to come in the 1,000 Guineas for which Alcohol Free is a general 14/1.
2:25 Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m
Milkwood tops the betting for the Scottish Champion Hurdle on the back of an almighty run in the County Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham. A run of that sort of calibre would be hard to stop in what does not look the strongest edition of this Grade 2 handicap but we have seen a number of horses fail to repeat their Cheltenham form over the last couple of weeks so it would not be a surprise were Milkwood to find one or two too good for him.
Enemy Coast Ahead is an interesting option on what is his handicap debut. There is a feeling that the handicapper has underestimated him off a mark of just 129 but this is a step up in class for Olly Murphy’s seven year old so it’s Calico who gets the nod at 11/4. Dan Skelton sent his five year old to Warwick rather than Cheltenham and he obliged with a comfortable win for which he was the 1/4 favourite. While still a novice, Calico has run in big races against quality opponents and he can use that experience alongside his class to earn another win for Harry Skelton who is closing in on becoming the British champion jump jockey for the season.
2:45 Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Greenham Stakes
Group 3, 7f
Guineas weekend is just around the corner all of a sudden and we’ll learn a lot about some of the leading contenders for the first two Classics of the season in the coming days. Chindit is the leading light in that respect from the Greenham Stakes field at Newbury. Richard Hannon’s charge is one of the very few horses in the top 10 of the betting for the 2,000 Guineas not trained by somebody with the surname O’Brien and while the market rates him as a relative outsider at 16/1 for Newmarket he is the bookies’ favourite at Newbury.
It was Chindit’s performance in his final race of the season that is putting punters off from really supporting him for the Guineas. He was some way behind the likes of St Mark’s Basilica, Wembley and Thunder Moon, each of whom is ahead of him in the ante-post markets for the 2,000 Guineas. It is never a good idea to write off a classy two year old after just one poor run though and he had excuses that day as he hung right and did not like the soft ground one bit. After a winter to grow into his frame some more and a much better surface, Chindit should start this new campaign with a win at odds of 9/4.
3:00 Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices’ Chase
Grade 2, 2m4½f
For many of the biggest jumps trainers, the whole season is geared towards the Cheltenham Festival. Paul Nicholls has taken a different approach this year. He largely kept his powder dry at Cheltenham and instead kept many of his leading horses fresh for the spring meetings. After having a lot of success at Aintree, Nicholls is set for another big weekend and it’s his Tamaroc Du Mathan who makes the most appeal in the Future Champion Novices’ Chase.
If Nicholls is to add this race to his ever-growing tally of wins for the season he will need the bookies to have called it wrong in making Allmankind the 5/4 favourite. The Dan Skelton-trained five year old certainly has bags of ability and knows how to win but two and a half miles just doesn’t quite look the right trip for him so Tamaroc Du Mathan stands ready to take advantage.
3:20 MansionBet Spring Cup Handicap
Class 2, 1m
The Spring Cup is one of the first big handicaps of the season. This is an important race both in its own right and in the context of the season of many of the horses in the field. A number of these will be expected to go on and claim a big prize at some stage over the coming months.
Market leader Danyah (5/1) may be one to watch this season for Owen Burrows after an impressive fourth place in the Lincoln three weeks ago. Troll Penninsula (5/1) has already had a very good start to his campaign having won easily at Kempton at the end of March.
The one to be on could be Raaeq who is a course and distance winner and will be looking to continue where he left off last season. The colt finished his campaign with an impressive 5th place in the Balmoral Handicap on Champions Day at Ascot. Brian Meehan will hope that Raaeq will be a major player in the big mile handicaps this season and he has every chance of winning at a generous price of 9/1.
3:35 Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase
Grade 3, 4m
Anybody who did not get their fill of hard to predict, stamina-sapping, big field steeplechases at Aintree last week should hang around for the final live ITV race of the day. A full complement of 30 horses will do battle for the Scottish Grand National which is the feature race of the year let alone the card at Ayr.
There is not a 4/1 favourite for the Scottish Grand National as there was with the Aintree equivalent but there are a couple of horses who have every chance of running into a place or even better from lower down in the betting. The first each way option to consider is Some Chaos who has been cannily dealt with so that he runs off a very workable mark of 142 for Michael Scudamore. The 10 year old hasn’t been seen over a fence since November but has been kept fit over hurdles and will appreciate the good ground so is tempting at a nice price of 25/1.
The other each way horse to consider is Chapel Stile who can be backed at odds of 20/1. Nick Richards’ nine year old is less experienced over fences than most of his rivals but he has shown a very likeable attitude over the bigger obstacles and has certainly loved the challenge of stepping up in trip. The good ground isn’t too big a concern as connections wouldn’t have entered him if they felt he had no chance of running just as well as he has with a bit more give in the ground so a place could well be on the cards for Chapel Stile who is well treated off a mark of 137.
- ITV Racing Tips for 10th April 2021 (Aintree)
- ITV Racing Tips for 3rd April 2021 (Musselburgh & Haydock)
- ITV Racing Tips for 27th March 2021 (Doncaster, Newbury & Kempton)
- ITV Racing Tips for 20th March 2021 (Uttoxeter & Kempton)
- ITV Racing Tips for 13th March 2021 (Sandown & Wolverhampton)
- ITV Racing Tips for 6th March 2021 (Newbury, Kelso & Doncaster)
- ITV Racing Tips for 27th February 2021 (Kempton, Lingfield & Newcastle)
- ITV Racing Tips for 20th February 2021 (Ascot, Haydock & Wincanton)
- ITV Racing Tips for 13th February 2021 (Lingfield & Naas)
- ITV Racing Tips for 6th February 2021 (Sandown, Musselburgh & Leopardstown)
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.