This weekend sees the finale of the Flat racing season with the Vertem Futurity Trophy meeting at Doncaster. The big race itself is supported by the Doncaster Stakes with both giving racing fans a glimpse into the future as some of the best two-year-olds around will be competing. Newbury also has a couple of quality races on the level being shown but, for many, the pick of the action comes from Cheltenham’s first meeting of the new National Hunt season with five live races on ITV Racing.
Whether you prefer Flat or jumps racing or are a big fan of both, there is a lot to get your teeth stuck into with this week’s Saturday Racing Tips. With a massive 10 races from the three tracks we think this is a weekend for sitting in front of the TV and bagging some winners! We’ve gone through the runners and riders for all 10 to pick out our best bets below.
1:45 NHS Vaccinating Heroes Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
Class 3, 2m½f
The two-day meeting at Cheltenham that ends on Saturday is known as the Showcase Meeting. The name highlights the idea that this is a chance for horses to showcase their chances of winning the bigger races to come over the season ahead. The expectation is that Samarrive will do exactly that for the Paul Nicholls team by winning the first ITV Racing race of the day at solid looking odds of 11/4.
The obvious challenge for Samarrive is that he has to try and prove that he is a cut above the competition in this handicap hurdle off a mark of 132. On the basis of his bare form, there is no way he should be that high in the ratings already but visually his run was very taking. Samarrive is an exciting four-year-old who could contest some high class races this season and he should get the better of his rivals on Saturday.
2:00 Virgin Bet Horris Hill Stakes
Group 3, 7f
Light Infantry is a very interesting entry in the Horris Hill Stakes. Although he won as he liked on debut, despite showing signs of greenness, the suggestion at the time was that David Simcock would find another novice for him to run in. The fact that he is running in a Group 3 against the impressive Noble Truth suggests that his work at home has continued to be of a very high standard.
Noble Truth is clearly the one to beat as he is a Listed winner and finished second in a Group 1 on heavy ground at Longchamp last time out. However, 3/1 just looks a very good price about Light Infantry who will relish the step up in trip and has a pedigree that suggests heavy ground won’t be much of a problem, if any.
2:20 888Sport What’s Your Thinking Handicap Chase
Class 2, 3m1f
It may have ended in disappointment with the way things panned out in the Grand National but last season was wonderful for Cloth Cap and everybody connected to him. The nine-year-old delighted his owner Trevor Hemmings with two wins including the Ladbrokes Trophy and after the popular Hemmings passed away recently it would be a really heart-warming story were Cloth Cap to bounce back with a win at Cheltenham, the local course for his trainer, Jonjo O’Neill.
Clearly, Cloth Cap’s run up the handicap ratings and into Graded company is last year’s news. He has it all to do off a mark of 156 and top weight but Frodon won this race off 11st 12lb last year and if Cloth Cap runs to form then he can do likewise. If you’re not keen on backing Cloth Cap to win at a best price of 13/2, consider an each way play on Cool Mix at big odds of 14/1. This is a decent horse who will be aimed at the big staying handicaps for the remainder of the season and should go close here.
2:35 Virgin Bet St Simon Stakes
Group 3, 1m4f
The St Simons Stakes usually includes some very good three-year-olds who are being tested in open company. Half of the last 10 renewals have gone the way of three-year-olds and it’s another, Siskany, who is warm order for this year’s race and one that we cannot really oppose at the current odds.
After Siskany’s win in the Old Rowley Cup, Charlie Appleby called him a “progressive handicapper in the making and (he) could even be a Listed or Group 3 performer.” The market clearly agrees on his Group 3 debut as he is the 5/6 favourite at Newbury. He will have to contend with heavy ground and some hardened, quality performers such as Ilaraab and Morando. However, he should have no issues with the going and the 6lb weight for age allowance he gets should be enough for Siskany’s progression to continue unchecked.
2:55 Masterson Holdings Hurdle
Class 2, 2m½f
Tritonic is one of the big names out at Cheltenham on Saturday. For all that he was a disappointment when given a big build up in last season’s Triumph Hurdle, connections still harbour very high hopes about his chances of being a top quality hurdler. Adrian Heskin, who is back on board as Tritonic returns from a couple of runs on the Flat, will hope his mount can coast round before making the most of his pace to pull away from his rivals.
Connections of I Like To Move It would have been very happy with the heavy rain that fell on Cheltenham earlier this week. He has already got off the mark this season on good to soft ground and, with the long term goal being three mile chasing, he would enjoy soft ground. However, the drainage at Cheltenham is excellent so the going is set to be good on Saturday, giving Tritonic the perfect platform to utilise his pace and win at odds of 11/10 that we feel offer just enough value.
3:15 Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes
Group 1, 1m
The trainers of every horse in the field for the Vertem Futurity Trophy would dearly love to get the win on Saturday. This is a race that often goes the way of a top class runner while it is well worth noting the calibre of horses who have failed to win this Group 1. The likes of Roaring Lion, Circus Maximus and Saxon Warrior have all fallen short in recent years and it could well be that the horse who goes on to have the best career gets beaten once again this year.
Luxembourg is the clear favourite at a price of just 10/11 and Ballydoyle have pretty high hopes about his chances of success next year. However, he is making just his third appearance on Saturday and may lack the required hardiness to help ease Aidan O’Brien’s current poor run. In contrast, Royal Patronage has already proven himself to have real heart. He’s won his last three races at 3/1, 25/1 and 7/2, going up in class with each run. Last time he managed to win despite a change in tactics from his jockey Jason Hart, as things didn’t pan out in running and that partnership can end their season on the highest of highs with a Grade 1 win at 4/1.
3:30 888Sport Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m
Sky Pirate is, like Cloth Cap and others at Cheltenham on Saturday, having to carry a big weight on his seasonal return. The top weight in this minimum distance chase has the class to get this field beaten were they to run off level weights but 11st 12lb could just be too much of a burden first time out. Of course, he has a chance, but for us, at the prices, we prefer a longer odds each way option.
Before Midnight is the horse that most will choose to take on the favourite but he too is returning after a lengthy break. Therefore, Hatcher could be the wise choice after a busy and successful summer jumps campaign. The ground is starting to turn a bit against Dan Skelton’s eight-year-old but he’ll get a decent surface at Cheltenham and this reliable type should be able to claim a place at least at a tempting 14/1.
3:50 Virgin Bet Doncaster Stakes
It’s not at the level of the Vertem Futurity Trophy but the field for the Doncaster Stakes always includes some potentially smart two-year-olds who will have much more to give in the coming years. In terms of experience, Flaming Rib sets the standard. He’s been busy since making his debut and heads to Doncaster having secured a hat-trick of wins. That run of form makes him the one to beat according to the bookies but he is short enough at 13/8 so it could be worth taking a bit of a chance on one of the horses with less experience who could make rapid improvement.
At a double-digit price of 10/1, Parisiac makes appeal for each way support. He went off without much backing at all on his debut in Nottingham but he got the job done in taking fashion at the massive odds of 33/1. Gianluca Sanna was perhaps the only person not surprised with the win as he rides Parisiac every day and they can resume their partnership on course with another big showing.
4:05 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 3m
Thoroughbred horses are incredible athletes but they can be precocious and fragile too. They are particularly prone to suffering with breathing issues so corrective wind surgery can have an impact on a horse that is close to transformative. Connections of Push The Tempo are hopeful that will be the case with the eight-year-old, who looked as good as ever when winning his first run of the season last month.
Getting that run under his belt is only going to be a positive for the 16/1 shot. Improvements in his breathing will also help as he continues to run and make steps up in trip and 3m no longer looks too much of an ask. Push The Tempo is not the best horse in the field but he could be the best prepared for this race even if an each way bet is the best play.
4:20 Virgin Bet Handicap
Class 2, 5f
The final race of the day is a 5f handicap which should come down to more than just raw speed. Doncaster has not missed the heavy rain seen in large parts of the country so it could be gruelling if there is early pace in the race.
The difficulty of conditions could mean that Raasel has a real advantage carrying bottom weight, despite the fact that he is 4lb out of the handicap. That does mean that he is competing at a higher level than he has before, but the way that Michael Appleby’s four-year-old has progressed with three wins in a row suggests he is ready. Raasel’s chances are further enhanced by the booking of Adam Farragher who claims 5lb, making things look much more manageable, so 6/1 is a very fair price.