We have a feast of flat racing for you on ITV this weekend at Wincanton, Aintree and Doncaster.
It’s a relief that the rain is finally starting to arrive for all the jumpers that are ready to go.
We’ll kick off with Wincanton, as that’s where I will be this week, and we start with a mare’s handicap hurdle.
If You Say Run kicked off her season last year with an impressive win at Chepstow, beating some smart mares in the process and she gets the nod on that basis. Paul Nicholls was glowing in praise for her at his open day.
The interesting one is G For Ginger at an each-way price. She was found to be suffering from heat stress when disappointing at Worcester.
Really good novice chase here – one which has been worn by some decent sorts in the past.
There isn’t a lot between Secret Investor and Bags Groove on ratings, but I just loved the way Bags Groove jumped and travelled over fences at Ffos Las, so he gets the nod.
Hells Kitchen is not the easiest of rides but is very capable, as he showed when beating a Cheltenham Festival winner at Kempton last Christmas,
Mr Whitaker franked the form in style last March and won again the other day, but the worry is the track at Aintree is not to every horse’s taste.
I would love to be able to wait and see how he jumps first, so for that reason I am going to have an each-way on Romain De Senam. I saw him at Paul Nicholls’ before he ran at Market Rasen and he looked like he would improve for that run. If he does, then he will be bang there on Saturday.
The Elite Hurdle is a cracker with Nicky Henderson represented by We Have A Dream, who was so impressive last year at Aintree, and Verdana Blue, who herself was impressive at Kempton.
It will depend on how much rain they have for We Have a Dream to be allowed to take his chance. He is the obvious one on ratings and form as he is unbeaten in the UK. Verdana Blue will love the track and the faster they go the better it will suit her.
Redicean could be the each-way bet in the race at a good price as he had to give over a stone to a race-fit rival at Cheltenham last time.
The Badger Ales Trophy is a race Paul Nicholls would love to win again.
El Bandit has been laid out for this and some of his hurdle form is smart, but he lacks experience over fences having just had the one run over the larger obstacles at Warwick. He is smart and on balance is a good favourite.
He does have an absence to overcome too, so Present Man interests me more at the prices. He should revel in the better ground conditions as he he won this contest last year even though he hates soft ground! I know he is a little worse off at the weights, but Paul Nicholls will have him ready to defend his crown. .
Bigbadjohn is another who interests me at the prices. A former Reynoldstown chase winner with form at the track, he should be in the places at least.
Doncaster ends the flat turf season and I am going for a horse I thought could win a big prize for some time, one of William Haggas’ in the November Handicap (15:15) called My Lord And Master. He has run some decent races this season and could land this valuable prize.
In the sprint up there (14:05) I have a soft spot for Librisa Breeze and he gets the nod in what has been a difficult season for him. He came good at the back end of last season and I’m hoping he can do the same here.