In many ways the next two weekend’s are the calm before the Cheltenham storm, but while all eyes are focused on Tuesday week, there are still plenty of winners to be found with the same rewards as those at the Festival.
It’s a busy Saturday on ITV’s main channel, with racing from Doncaster, Newbury and Kelso.
Let’s get straight to it, and I’ll be at Doncaster, where the first race shown is a handicap hurdle over an extended 3m at 1.50pm. A really tough race with some very ‘iffy’ horses. I’ll have a few quid each-way on GUNFLEET, who was hopeless last time over fences for Emma Lavelle. Prior to that he had been consistent and if he enjoys being back over hurdles the one thing he has in his favour is stamina.
Next at Donny is the 2.25pm, a handicap chase over an extended 2m. CRACKING FIND looks a good bet here for Sue Smith and Danny Cook. He’s been in great form at Doncaster and Wetherby the last twice and can defy the handicapper off a rating 9lb higher than the first of those two successes.
There’s a Listed mares’ novices’ hurdle over an extended 3m at 3.00pm. Hard to oppose DANSE IDOL for the in-form former champion trainer, Paul Nicholls. A rating of 126 is decent in this event and she ran well when second at Sandown last time.
Finally at Doncaster the big betting handicap with the Grimthorpe Chase over 3m 2f at 3.35pm. DINGO DOLLAR never got going last time at this track, but I think he’s much better than that and this race might be slightly less competitive. Hoping he will bounce back to his best for trainer Alan King.
Meanwhile, at Newbury ITV show the 2.05pm, a veterans’ chase over 3m 2f. Rebecca Curtis’s Scottish National hero JOE FARRELL is up 7lb for his Ayr success and has been off the track for a long time. However, he might still be improving and when last seen was in better form than most of these!
Also from Newbury is the Greatwood Gold Cup over 2m 4f at 2.40pm carrying Grade 3 status. This is so tough but steeping down in trip is WARRIORS TALE for Nicholls. He didn’t run so bad at Doncaster recently and might enjoy this test. Hard to call though.
And finally, ITV beam the 3.15pm from Kelso, a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle over 2m2f. Should be another for Nicholls, with GETAWAY TRUMP having been fourth to Al Dancer at Ascot and second to Champ at Newbury. He brings together some of the top novices this season so let’s hope the form holds up.
So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?
*Prices correct at time of publishing