The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival is the main event in British racing this weekend. After a very enjoyable first day at Newbury on Friday, Saturday’s action is even stronger, with the Ladbrokes Trophy the pick of the day’s racing at the famous venue. It is not all about the action from Berkshire though and the eight live ITV Racing contests on Saturday also include some very good races from Newcastle, the headline of which is the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Racing fans have a great day of jumps racing to enjoy while punters have some excellent chances to beat the bookies. We’ve gone through each of the eight live races to pick out our best bets in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips … and here they are!
1:15 Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m6½f
Following horses on their second run after wind surgery is a popular strategy amongst punters. The thinking is that horses take a race to get used to the new feeling of being able to draw more oxygen into their lungs and Grand Sancy is one of a few who will test that out on Saturday.
The major concern with simply blindly backing horses on their second run after a wind operation is that they are increasingly common and are often used by trainers as a last roll of the dice for horses at the end of their careers. That is not the case for Grand Sancy. For all that he has fallen down the ratings, the seven-year-old still has plenty to give and is more than capable of delivering the goods here off a mark of 139, so this could be the start of a very positive run for Grand Sancy who is well worth backing each way at 10/1.
1:30 Betfair Daily Rewards Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase
Class 3, 2m4½f
We only have four runners in this novices’ chase but that could be big enough for an upset in the betting. Valleres is the firm favourite at a general price of 11/10. That looks short enough to take on. It’s not that Alan King’s six-year-old is not talented but he appeared a horse who wants a genuine staying trip to bring the best out of him and may find that this isn’t quite to his liking.
Tupelo Mississippi (incidentally, the birthplace of Elvis Presley) is the horse most likely to get the favourite beaten. He was a beaten favourite himself last time out in a two-horse race. There was nothing wrong with his jumping that day up at Carlisle but he got beaten for a bit of speed late on. With more pace expected on Saturday, he can make the most of his jumping by bouncing back to break his duck over fences at very nice odds of 3/1.
1:50 Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m4½f
At this stage of the season trainers are still working out what the best route is to take with their horses. While some of them may have shown they can go up in class, others may have found the waters they were thrown into too deep and have to readjust their targets. While Glory And Fortune is part of the latter group, finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle, he does look a horse who can make it up into a good handicapper in the staying hurdle division.
Two and a half miles looks the right trip for Tom Lacey’s six-year-old and 141 is a mark that should allow him to be seriously competitive. Glory And Fortune was victorious in his last start over hurdles, beating Dans Le Vent who went on to win a Grade 3 handicap at Haydock last week. His form is good and the race should suit, so back Glory And Fortune to win at 8/1.
2:05 Betfair Exchange Rehearsal Handicap Chase
A field of 13 is very big for the British jumps season so far as so many trainers have had to hold their horses in reserve given the good ground. There are some very capable horses among that number assembled to run in the Rehearsal Handicap but the market may have it correct with The Ferry Master and Aye Right being the top two in the betting.
The two market leaders have both taken quite different routes into this 2m7½f chase. Whereas The Ferry Master just ran out of steam in a 3m6f marathon, Aye Right found a 2m1f chase too sharp. Their trainers will hope that those runs have blown away the cobwebs and both horses should be serious factors at Newcastle but it’s The Ferry Master, who is 12th of the 13 horses in the weights, who gets the nod at the solid looking price of 9/2.
2:25 Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Intermediate Hurdle
While most trainers in Britain are refreshing their weather forecasts several times a day in the hope of seeing some rain, Jonjo O’Neill is happy to make hay while the ground remains sound underfoot. Soaring Glory broke his duck for the season with victory on soft ground at Ascot at the end of October but his best form has tended to come on good ground.
The O’Neill team had a decision to make with Soaring Glory at the start of the season of whether to keep him over hurdles or send him chasing. In taking the former option and running him in two Listed hurdles first up, it appears they are taking his progression fairly gently. That is not to say that he will have things easy on Saturday with Gowel Road a particularly worthy challenger but this is Soaring Glory’s race to lose and the 11/10 favourite shouldn’t make any mistake.
3:00 Ladbrokes Trophy Chase
Grade 3, 3m2f
One of the real joys of jumps racing is that you get to see firm favourites from years gone by return to the scene. Cloth Cap is one such favourite. The nine-year-old was given great support by punters and racing fans in the Grand National after a brilliant last season. While it wasn’t to be at Aintree, Cloth Cap has returned having had wind surgery and looks on course for a real crack at a successful defence of the Ladbrokes Trophy.
The issue is that Cloth Cap does have to try to do this off a much higher mark and we fancy this could prove a bit too penal for him. One horse who has gone the other way and runs off a lower mark than when earning a place in last year’s race is The Hollow Ginge. A second place finish in his first run of the season suggested that The Hollow Ginge is well weighted and can put a largely frustrating last season behind him so consider backing him each way. At 25/1 he looks like great value for the Nigel Twiston-Davis yard, who are in good form right now.
3:15 Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle
Grade 1, 2m
When Epatante won last year’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle it looked for all the world as though she was primed for yet more top level success. Nicky Henderson’s star mare didn’t win any of her next three starts though, losing to Silver Streak (who is in the field for the Fighting Fifth) and the wonderful Honeysuckle. Henderson is full of hope that surgery to fix a back problem will bring out the best of Epatante but you’d have to be very confident that all is right with her to back the favourite at odds of 6/5 and even closer to evens with many firms.
Instead, we’d consider taking the 2/1 available about Monmiral’s chances. Unlike Epatante, Monmiral is not likely to hang around in the hurdling division for much longer than this season. He has the build of a horse who will be at his best over fences but he is unbeaten so far and can keep that run going to claim his second Grade 1.
3:35 My Odds Boost On Betfair Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m½f
The final ITV Racing race of the day comes in the form of this competitive minimum distance handicap chase. There’s a good field of 13 assembled and many of them arrive at Newbury with a real chance of winning but the pick at the odds is the unusually named Sully D’Oc AA who is available at odds of 7/1, a generous price given his performance at Ascot just last week.
Anthony Honeyball has cautioned that Sully D’Oc AA is a horse who does not want the ground too soft so it’s no surprise he is trying to make the most of the current ground conditions. After looking a horse in need of a run at the end of October, the seven-year-old caught the eye at Ascot and could have got involved with the first two home had he not encountered some traffic trouble late on in the race. He has to carry top weight for this but his class and recent performances suggest that won’t be onerous enough to stop him from winning.