Cheltenham may be behind us for another 12 months but even so, armchair viewers are in for a real treat this Saturday afternoon, as ITV lays on a 10-race feast of live televised action. National Hunt fans are well catered for with seven contests on offer from Kelso and Newbury, headlined by a classy Grade 2 event for the mares from the latter track.
It is, however, the flat action which tops the bill, with a trio of contests from the Dubai World Cup meeting adding a real international flavour to proceedings. The Dubai World Cup itself takes centre stage, but the strongest British challenge looks to come in the Dubai Turf earlier on the card. Here we pick out our best bets in each of the 10 contests on offer in this week’s Saturday racing tips.
1:30 Bet In-Play On Racing With BetVictor Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
Class 3, 2m3f
Competitive handicapping fare is the theme for the day’s jumping entertainment, and we kick things off with this novice event. Inneston heads the betting for Gary Moore following his solid second in the EBF Final, whilst the Paul Nicholls-trained Toothless could prove dangerous if handling this step up in trip.
Laura Morgan’s Glen Cannel is another interesting contender on a rare visit to the track for the trainer, but the one to get the each-way vote is the Tom Lacey-trained, Blow Your Wad. This one boasted excellent form in bumpers last season, finishing second to Luccia and Tahmuras, before a decent fourth in a Grade 2 event at Aintree. Having started well over obstacles, he blew out in the Tolworth Hurdle last time out, but retains plenty of potential and may be revitalised by a recent wind op. At odds of 13/2 this offers plenty of each way appeal.
1:50 BetVictor Go North Cab On Target Handicap Hurdle (Series Final)
Class 2, 2m5f
The opening event from Kelso looks like a pretty weak event for the grade. Whilst many of these are technically taking a step up in class, the quality of the opposition is more in line with a Class 3 or 4 event in our opinion.
Overall, this has a wide-open look to it, and whilst the likes of Coral Blue and Prairie Wolf boast obvious claims, they don’t make too much appeal at single-figure odds in such a competitive affair. At an each-way price, the one to side with is Sandy Thomson’s Salvino. A previous winner at the track, his last effort off this mark of 120 resulted in a second-place finish at Newcastle. A repeat of that performance should see him go close for a trainer who recorded a double in the last big Saturday meeting at this track.
2:05 Run For Your Money At BetVictor Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m4f
Dan Skelton’s Heltenham heads the betting in this quality handicap following back-to-back successes at Newcastle and Ffos Las. He is clearly at the top of his game but is up 7lb in a stronger race and looks short enough at the prices. Skelton’s former boss Paul Nicholls has taken this three times in the past seven years, and sends Espoir De Guye into battle. The nine-year-old showed very little last time out here but seems likely to take a step forward in a race his trainer clearly targets.
However, the one for us is the talented Messire Des Obeaux from the Alan King operation. Now 11 years old, this horse has had his share of issues over the years but remains lightly raced as a result, and bounced right back to form when getting up close home to land a Class 2 event at Warwick last time out. Expected to improve for what was only his second run back following an absence of over a year, he may well cope with a mark of 138, having been rated as high as 152 in the past.
2:25 Schloss Roxburghe Hotel Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 3m2f
We have a four-way battle for favouritism in this tight handicap contest. Spike Jones, Theme Tune, and Jet Legs all arrive on the back of a win, with the last named, in particular, impressing when scooting clear at Wetherby. It’s hard to fault the in-form trio, but we just prefer another.
Inis Oirr disappointed when last of six at Haydock last time out, but that was a Grade 2 affair, and he drops back into far calmer waters here. Prior to that outing, the six-year-old had beaten Outlaw Peter at Musselburgh, with that Paul Nicholls runner going on to frank the form with a win at Kempton last weekend. The final seal of approval comes courtesy of trainer Lucinda Russell’s record in this race. The Scottish handler has had just two runners here in the past eight years, Lie Forrit in 2014, and Big River in 2017, and both came home in front.
2:40 British EBF BetVictor ‘National Hunt’ Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
Grade 2, 2m4½f
The next event from Newbury may see the biggest field of the day, with the maximum number of 18 currently declared. There is no shortage of likely-looking contenders in here, including Moviddy for last year’s winning trainer Noel Williams. With the tongue-tie going on for the first time, she looks a danger to all. Another for the shortlist is the Nicky Richards-trained Sedgefield scorer, Aubis Walk, who goes in the Kenny Alexander silks so famously sported by Honeysuckle.
We wouldn’t put anyone off the aforementioned duo, but it is Ruby Island who just gets the nod. Catching the eye when fourth in a Cheltenham Bumper won by a runner who went on to contest the Champion Bumper at the Festival, Ruby Island delivered on that potential when winning back-to-back hurdles events at Ayr and Wetherby. Going down by just a head to the useful Windtothelightning back at Ayr last time out, she makes her handicap debut here, and a mark of 118 looks perfectly fair.
3:00 BetVictor Herring Queen Series Final Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m
Bonttay heads the market in the next event from Kelso and interestingly finished ahead of our previous selection Ruby Island in that Cheltenham Bumper back in November. Never out of the first two in three starts since, she shouldn’t be far away, but does need to reverse the form with Jane Du Berlais, who beat her at Lingfield in December.
We prefer an each-way punt here, and the one we like at a double-figure price is the Dan Skelton runner, Notnowlinda. Another Cheltenham Bumper graduate, the daughter of Notnowcato is a perfect two from two in hurdles events over this trip, with her only two disappointing efforts coming when stepped up to 2m4f. Back down to a more suitable distance, she looks worth backing to at least hit the frame.
3:10 Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World
Group 1, 1m1f
Lord North dead-heated with Panthalassa in this event last year and returns for another crack at the prize for the Gosdens and Frankie Dettori. Having impressively landed his prep race at Lingfield, he boasts strong claims, but would become the oldest winner since 2011 if coming home in front.
The Charlie Appleby-trained duo of Nation’s Pride and Master Of The Seas, and the fellow Godolphin runner Real World ensure the Newmarket training scene is strongly represented. All three are fancied to go well and we are opting for the former, Nations Pride, to at least finish in the frame under William Buick having won at Meydan last month.
3:35 Make Your Best Bet At BetVictor Handicap Chase
Class 2, 3m2f
We head back once more to Kelso for the final televised contest from these shores, and we will return to the yard of Sandy Thomson for our selection. Hill Sixteen was last sighted finishing a solid seventh over the Grand National fences in the Becher Chase, but it is his previous run at this track in October which really catches the eye.
Whilst he finished only third that day, he had a pretty talented duo in front of him in the shape of Ascot Chase fourth, Aye Right, and Sounds Russian, whose most recent outing came in no less a race than the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Anything approaching a repeat of that effort should see him go close on his first start following wind surgery.
4:00 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic
Group 1, 1m4f
Next up we have another contest with a strong British contingent, with the field including; John & Thady Gosden’s Mostadhaf, the six-timer seeking Rebel’s Romance from the yard of Charlie Appleby, and last season’s impressive Irish Derby winner, Westover. It will be interesting to see how that trio gets on, but we suspect the Japanese may hold the ace in the pack.
The Tetsuya Kimura-trained Equinox heads here following consecutive top-level wins in the Tenno Sho and the Arima Kinen – two of the premier events on the Japanese calendar. Amongst his victims in the first of those races was Panthalassa, who went on to land the Saudi Cup and is fancied to go well in the Dubai World Cup later on the card. At 4lbs clear of the field on official ratings, Equinox receives an additional 1lb from the older runners, and will likely be hard to beat.
4:35 Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirate Airline
Group 1, 1m2f
Last but most certainly not least, we have the small matter of £10m up for grabs in one of the most highly coveted flat contests on the planet. The action switches to the dirt for this 1m2f showstopper – a surface which has historically favoured the UAE and US runners.
Simon & Ed Crisford’s Algiers will bid to claim the prize for Britain for the first time since the success of Singspiel in 1997, whilst Japan arrive mob-handed with no fewer than eight runners. However, we feel they may all be playing for second, with last year’s winner Country Grammar expected to prove a tough nut to crack.
The Bob Baffert-trained star was partnered by Frankie Dettori for his success last year and will join forces with the evergreen Italian once again this time around. He finished 1¾l clear of his rivals in 2022, and was well on top at the line, with his late-running staying power winning the day. With a strong pace all but guaranteed with Panthalassa and other front runners in the field, it would be no surprise if his stamina and class at this trip proved decisive once more. Emblem Road and Crown Pride make each way appeal, but we will be sticking with a straight win bet on the champ.