We start off on Friday with a very open-looking mares’ race at 12.55pm. You can make a strong case for quite a few of these and there’s not too many you can discount.
Harry Skelton’s Yes I Did sets the standard after her win at Fontwell last month while Ben Pauling’s Treaty Girl returned to action when third at Huntingdon to Tagrita, despite not getting much luck in running.
I wouldn’t dive into any at a short-price but one at the foot of the handicap interests me and could be a bit of value. HOLLOW BAY finished second over hurdles four times and was fourth on her chase debut at Warwick in November. There may be more to come and she could just out-run her odds in a very open contest.
All the contenders in Friday’s feature race 1.30pm are well known to us and Philip Hobbs’ Sausalito Sunrise can step up on his first run when down the field to Viconte Du Noyer at the Open meeting.
He’s gone up a bit in the handicap since winning there 12 months ago, but reportedly lost a shoe on his seasonal debut and should improve for it.
Shutthefrontdoor finished ninth in the Aintree Grand National last April and returned to Merseyside for a spin over hurdles on his seasonal bow last time. He never threatened there, however Friday’s 3m 6f Chase is more his game and Barry Geraghty takes the ride.
That leaves Mark Walsh free to ride REGAL ENCORE for Anthony Honeyball. Even though he disappointed last time when pulled up in the Hennessy Gold Cup, he’s quite well handicapped on his day. If it all goes right for him he could click at a nice price.
The Cross Country Chase (2.05pm) has cut up quite badly with the unseasonably quick ground. Colin Tizzard’s Third Intention was a good winner from God’s Own in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October but struggled going right-handed at Ascot last time. He’s got a bit of class and was fourth to Josie’s Orders last March at the track.
Enda Bolger can never be dismissed in these races and cross country fences look to be bringing the best out in CANTLOW who won over the ‘banks’ at Punchestown last month. Even as an 11-year-old, he could still be realising his potential in this sphere like Garde Champetre did when switched to cross country races a few years ago.
We sign off on Channel 4 with a near 3m Handicap Hurdle at 2.40pm where the admirably consistent Valhalla is sure to be there at the business end again.
However, TEMPLEROSS could run a big race Tom Humphries is good value for his 10lb claim. Nigel Twiston-Davies runner has already hit the bulls-eye twice at Newton Abbot over 2m 5f and Ffos Las over 3m and this stamina test will suit him.