There is the prospect of a shower at Aintree on Saturday where conditions were described as a mix of good to soft and soft on Friday morning.
In the Pertemps qualifier I hope to see South Terrace (1.08) make a winning reappearance for Dr Richard Newland from near the foot of the weights. The ew selection – 5s with William Hill 4 places – has improved for the step up to three miles in recent outings and Sam Twiston-Davies has yet to finish out of the first two on the six-year-old who be jumping a fence sooner rather than later.
At the time of writing the yard have not had a winner for over a fortnight but they have had eight of their last fifteen runners finish second or third. Not a fun time for the stable cat.
Your Darling has been raised 8lb for his facile chase debut success at Huntingdon although he is effectively 13lbs higher as 5lb claimer Luca Morgan is replaced by Kielan Woods this afternoon. His latest win was gained on good ground, but he is adaptable regarding underfoot conditions. I promised myself I would back him until he was beaten after Huntingdon. This is a much stronger race, however and he has been put in very short in the betting – 9/4 with William Hill – in such a competitive heat.
Hooligan and Linelee King are fascinating chase debutants, Kiltealy Briggs was very well backed on his return at Uttoxeter last month and looks sure to go close but the each way vote goes to Beakstown (1.40) who was last seen finishing sixth in a vintage renewal of the much-missed novices handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival of 2020.
The selection has an excellent record fresh and has been dropped 6lbs in the handicap since that run. He has not won in four starts over fences, but I remember the horse was about to give Champ – on a going day – a race at Newbury one day but for clouting four out. The 8-y-old was taken out of a race at Sandown on account of soft ground a couple of seasons ago but good to soft ground would be ideal. Note the 6s with William Hill didnt last long and on Friday evening he was into 7/2 with Boylesports.
The Grand Sefton Chase over the National fences has been moved to this meeting from December’s and it is another terrific handicap. Jamie Snowden saddles a couple Hogans Heights – who won the corresponding race two years ago – and Thomas McDonagh (2.15) and it is the latter who gets the each way vote at 8s with William Hill 5 places.
I have long thought there was a big pot to be won over fences with the eight-year-old who has been dropped a pound for finishing runner up at Haydock on his final start last season. Grand National favourite Time To Get Up is likely having a net for the Becher/National – with this trip likely to be on the sharp side.
Senior Citizen is a wonderful jumper of a fence, and the drying ground is a plus, but he has been beaten off lower marks around this course in the past and may need better treated rivals to make mistakes along the way.
My two against the field in Badger Beer Chase at Wincanton are Hurricane Harvey and Ofalltheginjoints (3.00) with the latter getting the each way vote in his first-time blinkers for Colin Tizzard. The ew selection -12s with Boylesports 4 places – looked to have the world at his feet when scoring at Exeter this time last year but, like many in the yard, the wheels came off subsequently and I remember an appalling performance from the horse in a Grade 2 Novice at Doncaster in a race won by Hurricane Harvey.
Ofalltheginjoints had an undistinguished pipe-opener over hurdles which is a concern, but the stable are going very well and I like second season chasers in these top handicaps.
At Kelso Sirwilliamwallace (2.10) has never won first time out and it is just that which prevents me making him a strong recommendation in the handicap chase over an extended 2m 5f. He travelled very well in a 3m handicap at Ayr’s Scottish National meeting when last seen back in the spring and this intermediate trip will suit if he is fully wound up.
I remember being bitterly disappointed when he finished third over slightly further here over Christmas, but the winner is now rated 16lbs higher and the selection stumbled badly when going best on the second circuit. There was 13/2 about on Friday but he is 10/3 with 10Bet at the time of posting.
Space Blues (10.20) has never won at a mile and is considered a 7f specialist but there seems no reason he should not be as effective around the tight turns of Del Mar from his excellent draw in stall three. The turn of foot he showed to land the Prix Foret on heavy ground at Longchamp last month was exceptional and if William Buick can get him into a decent position going into the first turn, then he just needs a clear run. The Godolphin runner is 9/4 with Boylesports.
On Sunday, My Mate Mozzie (12.40) can make it two out of two over hurdles at Navan in the Grade 3 For Auction Novice hurdle. The selection – 11/8 with William Hill – is my only antepost bet for the Cheltenham Festival to date and trainer Gavin Cromwell has suggested he may miss the heavy ground midwinter and wait for the spring Festivals once the rains arrive.
His hurdling was fast and fluent at Punchestown on debut and his only defeat in four starts to date came on the flat at Ballinrobe. Note the horse he finished half a length behind on that occasion is now rated 91.
At Ffos Las I hope to see Shakem Up’Arry (1.55) make a winning chase debut in a hot novices’ handicap. Owned by Harry Redknapp the selection – 3s from 9/2 with William Hill on Friday – only has a novice hurdle win to his name but that came at this corresponding meeting 12 months ago and he has run very well in defeat on other occasions including finishing 12L second to Metier in a below par renewal of the Tolworth Hurdle last season. He should get further in time over fences, but this looks an ideal starting point.