A combination of heavy rain and snowfall have made this week a very challenging one for those involved in putting race meetings on. Numerous meetings have fallen foul of the weather but hopes are high that Warwick and Market Rasen will pass inspections on Saturday morning and the ITV Racing cameras will be able to cover the seven races scheduled for broadcast.
Should both meetings go ahead there is a real mixture of racing to look forward to us and some very good betting opportunities. We have highlighted our thoughts and predictions for each race below in this week’s Saturday racing tips.
1:50 McCoy Contractors Civils And Infrastructure Hampton Novices’ Chase
Grade 2, 3m
Anybody who watched the ITV Racing coverage last Saturday knows that Paul Nicholls had an incredible day with seven winners. Anyone wise or lucky enough to have backed that would have won a bet paid out at 10,500/1! Nicolls has been in racing long enough to know that days like that don’t come about very often but the Ditcheat trainer should be able to start this week’s ITV Racing with a win courtesy of Next Destination.
The nine-year-old was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles for Willie Mullins before his owners decided to make a change in trainer. He subsequently finished second in his first outing after a monster break of 920 days before looking like the Next Destination of old with a Grade 2 chase win last time out at Newbury. Harry Cobden will have to keep Next Destination up to his task to avoid an upset but that shouldn’t be too much of a concern for those who back this odds-on favourite. 8/11 is a lovely addition to your Saturday accas and should get things rolling nicely.
2:05 MansionBet Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m½f
There aren’t many wins in the recent form of the five horses who will contest the MansionBet Handicap Hurdle. There is some genuine talent among this small field though with many believing that Alan King’s Edwardstone will eventually be able to put it together and let his quality shine. He may just do that but after a couple of disappointing performances this season the seven-year-old looks like a favourite to take on to us in the here and now.
You don’t have to look too hard to find a horse capable of getting the jolly beaten. Second favourite, Oscars Leader, has finished either first or second in each of his last five starts. Although he is yet to win so far this season, he ran well in defeat to some classy horses and, at the bottom of the weights, the time is right for Oscars Leader to win a Class 2 race at good value odds of 7/2.
2:25 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m5f
This is shaping up to be an excellent renewal of the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle. 12 horses have made it through final declarations and almost all of them can be said to have a genuine chance of claiming this Grade 2 prize. It should be a fine race but such a competitive contest is certainly tricky from a betting point of view.
The competitiveness of this race is reflected in the bookies’ odds with Admirel and Make Me A Believer both available at 4/1 and four more horses priced in single figures. It is one of those, Oscar Elite, who catches the eye at a general price of 7/2. Colin Tizzard’s six-year-old has won two races in very good style and looks for all the world as though he’s ready to step up to this level. He should also relish the soft ground that he’ll contend with at Warwick.
2:40 MansionBet’s Bet 10 Get 20 Hurdle
Class 2, 2m7f
The bookies’ odds for this Class 2 hurdle paint a picture of a top heavy race. Three of the eight runners are priced at 40/1 or bigger whilst, at the other end of the market, Lil Rockerfeller and On The Blind Side have both come in for a lot of support. There will be some who opt for an each way pick against the two favourites but we think that would be wrong.
With honorable mentions given to Vision Des Flos and Keeper Hill as potential each way picks it is tough to look past the top two in the market. Indeed, this could be a race that goes the way of the favourite as Lil Rockerfeller has run well in both his races so far this season without being able to win. On The Blind Side will be tough to shake off if he runs as well as he did when finishing second to McFabulous in the Relkeel Hurdle last weekend but that race may just leave too much of a mark on him. With that a real possibility we will be backing the favourite, Lil Rockerfeller, at a nice price of 15/8 as he continues to work his way back to his best hurdling form.
3:00 McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase
Grade 3, 3m5f
This time last year, Nigel Twiston-Davies was planning Ballyoptic’s best route to the Grand National. The experienced chaser duly won the Swinley Chase but was unable to take his chance at Aintree. That disappointment has only been compounded by a couple of poor runs this season and although Ballyoptic is miles clear in the ratings for this long distance chase off a mark of 160, the bookies make him a 20/1 shot for success.
Whatever happens, Ballyoptic has already had a significant impact on this race as his mark means that several of the 13 horses will be running from outside of the handicap. Captain Chaos is not among that number. He finds himself just 2lb worse off than when he won a 3m2f chase at Doncaster last February. Captain Chaos’ recent form isn’t anything to get excited about but it does mean he’s come down to what is clearly a workable mark and this marathon trip may get the best out of him, so back him for the win at 9/2.
3:15 Alan Swinbank Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race
There are some potentially very smart horses among the seven competitors for this National Hunt flat race which is run over just longer than 2m. There isn’t, however, too much form to pour over but what form there is suggests that Eileendover will be difficult to beat at 6/4.
Pam Sly’s filly was bred to run on the flat and she’s shown enough in this sphere of racing to suggest she has a lot of potential. The step up in trip is the big unknown but she has won her first two races by a combined distance of 45 lengths and can keep her perfect record intact and might be worth keeping an eye on.
3:35 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 3m1f
The final ITV Racing contest of the day comes in this Pertemps qualifier which, as usual, has attracted a strong field. Long distance hurdling is a specialist division of racing but this contest can go the way of a horse who is lacking in the experience of many of his rivals and Kepagge looks well priced at 15/2.
David Pipe has already seen enough from his seven-year-old to believe that he is up to the challenge of tackling 3m1f on soft ground. Keppage won his first three races under rules, a run which included two hurdle contests at around 2½m. His winning run ended on his sole appearance this season as he stepped up to 2m5f at Cheltenham. That is easily excused though as the race wasn’t run to suit and in addition it was his first outing since wind surgery. Improvement is expected from a horse who could be a very good long distance chaser in the future, so an each way bet is very much in order.