Racing fans have a mixture of jumps and flat racing to look forward to this weekend. The ITV Racing team are set to bring coverage from Wincanton, Doncaster and Aintree on Saturday. We have eight races in total, including some iconic contests such as the November Handicap and the Badger Beers Silver Trophy.
The variety of racing around throws up a lot of very good chances to get one over on the bookies. To take advantage of these opportunities, we’ve gone through each of the races and picked out any standout bets from them.
1:30 Betfair Wentworth Stakes
It’s a case of gold equalling first place in the opening ITV Racing contest of the day. That’s because both Dakota Gold and Aberama Gold both look like very good bets at different parts of the market. Dakota Gold is battling for favouritism with the excellent Brando and, as the most in-form horse of the two, is tempting at odds of 4/1. Michael Dods’ six year old heads to Doncaster having won two races in four days, both of which were rescheduled from the same abandoned Ascot meeting. The first was a career best win in the Group 3 Bengough Stakes and the second saw him win a good Listed race despite carrying a five pound penalty.
Dakota Gold is better than ever and will surely be back for more success as a seven year old next season. Aberama Gold is at a very different stage of his career and having made good progress as a three year old he can end his campaign by running into at least a place in the Wentworth Stakes at a nice price of 16/1.
1:50 Richard Barber Memorial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m5½f
The Richard Barber Memorial is a great opportunity for Cill Anna to prove her early promise as a stayer. Paul Nicholls’ five year old is making her first start of the season and her handicap debut so backing her as the 5/1 favourite will require some conviction but it could prove to be a wise move.
Cill Anna was last seen winning a 3m½f hurdle on heavy ground at Doncaster in February. She really had to tough it out on ground that Harry Cobden reported she hated to see off a spirited challenge from the equally tough Ziggy Rose that day at Doncaster and in so doing franked the form of her seven length win at Wincanton a month previously. Some pointed out that she was 20 pounds ahead of Ziggy Rose in the official ratings but you can’t fail to be impressed by the heart she showed and she should take advantage of a generous looking handicap mark to claim another win at this track.
2:05 Betfair Exchange British EBF Gillies Fillies’ Stakes
The Betfair Exchange British EBF Gillies Fillies’ Stakes looks a good opportunity for horses who have so far been unable to build on some good early season form. Some good horses have used this race as a chance to earn a late season win in recent years and punters are supporting the likes of Anna Nerium, Trefoil and Moll Davies who have only shone in fits and spurts this season. Favouritism, however, goes to Freyja with the Mark Johnston-trained three year old chasing a hat-trick.
While the market may well be correct in pricing Freyja as the most likely winner, the best value in the race comes from an inexperienced horse who should make more improvement. That horse is Zahratty who only made her debut in July. Thus far, John Gosden’s three year old has won just one of her three races although she did run with credit last time out when a seven pound penalty was all that stopped her from winning. With no such penalty to concern her this time, Zharatty can run into at least a place at odds of 12/1.
2:25 “Rising Stars” Novices’ Chase
Grade 2, 2m4f
Some very good horses including Silviniaco Conti, Frodon and Bags Groove has used the “Rising Stars” Novices’ Chase as a stepping stone to better success in the last 10 years. It is a shame, therefore, that there are only three runners in this year’s renewal of what is an important race. Grand Sancy had been right at the top of the market even before final declarations and Paul Nicholls’ six year old should have little trouble seeing off the challenge of Ga Law and Hurricane Harvey to justify his odds of 8/13.
This may be the last race for Grand Sancy at this level before he is forced to take his chance in handicap company. In effect, this could be viewed as little more than a good piece of work but that was the case last time out when he also faced just two rivals at Chepstow and put in a thoroughly professional, impressive performance. Something similar would do the job nicely at Wincanton.
2:40 williamhill.com Best Odds Guaranteed Hurdle
Class 2, 2m4f
Just six horses are set to run in Saturday’s big race at Aintree. That is enough to provide a very competitive race though with all but Navajo Pass (14/1) and Dinons (100/1) in with a very good chance of victory. There is very little separating Call Me Lord (5/2), Thomas Darby (5/2), Ch’tibello (3/1) and Summerville Boy (10/3) in the betting and it is the last of those who could just do enough for the win.
The Tom George trained eight year old rarely looked confident over fences and his return to hurdling was a wise move last season. The 2018 Supreme Hurdle winner is surely going to stick over the smaller obstacles for the coming season which could be a very good one for him. He enjoys running over this shorter trip and has every chance of making a winning return to racing.
3:00 Unibet Elite Hurdle
Grade 2, 1m7½f
If the betting market is to be believed, the Elite Hurdle is going to come down to a battle between two horses: Sceau Royal and Solo. That is not to say that those two will have things all their own way and there are a couple of interesting options for speculative each way bets including Master Debonair at 8/1 and Brandon Castle at 33/1. But it would be a surprise if neither of the top two in the betting won.
Solo hasn’t been seen since disappointing in the Triumph Hurdle. Paul Nicholls and all connections have not been shaken in their conviction that he is a very good horse and will have plenty of success over the course of his career. The hope is that he will be easier to handle after a gelding operation in the spring. Solo may well turn out to have more success than Sceau Royal but for now it’s the more experienced of the two who gets the nod. Not only is Sceau Royal used to competing towards the top level of both hurdles and chases but he has a race under his belt already this season and can build on from his win at Ffos Las last month to score here at odds of 11/10.
3:15 Betfair November Handicap
Class 2, 1m4f
The November Handicap is an iconic race which always attracts a large amount of interest at this time of the season. As ever, a full field of 23 will be contesting this 1m4f handicap and with competition for a place so high, it is going to take a seriously good performance to win. Although it is possible to make a case for a number of longer odds horses who represent very good each way value – think Aasheq at 25/1 and Rhythmic Intent also at 25/1 – the longest starting price of any of the last five winners of the November Handicap was 10/1. As such it does make sense to look towards the top of the market for a win bet.
The bookies’ favourite, Sam Cooke, is getting a lot of support from some very good judges and is sure to run a very good race on the back of a lengthy break having been last seen missing out by just a nose at Ascot in July. Preference goes to second favourite Kingbrook though. The three year old has run some very good races in since switching to Ian Williams’ yard and earned his first win for new connections last time out a month ago. He gets into the race on a good mark of 97 and if he avoids trouble in running from a very high draw, Kingbrook can win at a fair price of 7/1.
3:35 Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase
The Badger Beers Silver Trophy is a hugely popular race and racing fans are very happy that the 2020 renewal has been so well supported by big yards and owners. This is shaping up to be one of the best betting races of the season so far with so many potential winners in this high class handicap.
Danny Whizzbang and Present Man are the early favourites with the bookies. That is fair enough as the last two winners were either joint or co-favourites and Present Man was one of those winners in 2018, just as he was in 2017. Present Man kicked his season off with a win but is forced to carry top weight which could just open the door for El Presente who is running on better terms and a more appealing price at 9/1.
Kim Bailey has already had some very good success this season, including with El Presente who heads to Wincanton looking to complete a hat-trick. He is a consistent, dependable performer who may well go off at a shorter price on the day. Those looking for a longer odds play for an each way bet should consider both Sizing At Midnight and Some Chaos. They are both available at 12/1 and either could have a big win in them at this sort of distance and on the good ground they’ll find at Wincanton.