Horse Racing tips: Frank Hickey’s fine fancies for Saturday’s ITV Racing

Frank is back and he's all over the tellybox action at Aintree, Doncaster and Wincanton.

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Aintree 13:08 – Aquila Sky

Remastered is very interesting in this one considering he runs here off 133 and he is rated 145 over fences. He was a decent fifth in the National Hunt Chase and won the Group 2 Reynoldstown last season. Connections might just be happy to get him qualified here and I would imagine the Welsh National will be his big target for the first half of the season.

Supreme Escape is another interesting one that may be using this en route to the Welsh National Trial. Deise Aba and Pileon are both well handicapped for Philip Hobbs but Pileon has completely lost his way. However, he would be a huge threat if he’s back to anywhere near the form that saw him finish a short head second in the 2020 Martin Pipe at Cheltenham.

I’m taking a chance on Aquila Sky at with Harry Skelton having his first ride for the yard. He showed ability in novice and handicap hurdles between 2m and 2.5m before stepping up to 3m for the first time last March at Doncaster and he bolted up off a mark of 116. He went to Ayr for the Scottish National meeting and he followed up off 123.

That form is useful, the second Lord Accord won his next two starts and the fifth Soyouthinksoagain won two starts later. Aquila Sky didn’t jump well enough on chase debut last month at Uttoxeter but reverts to hurdles here just 4lb higher than that Ayr win. He might just be more fit than a few here.

Doncaster 13:25 – Hafeet Alain

Hafeet Alain was trained by Adrian Nicholls but went to Hong Kong in 2020 and disappointed there. His last two starts in the UK were handicap wins over 7f at York off 80 where he won by nearly 4l and then followed up at Newmarket over a mile off a mark of 90. Both were on soft ground.

He’s now with Ed Walker and had a fair return from a year off when 4th here a couple of weeks ago off 94, when 4th beaten 5.5l. Hollie Doyle is booked and might improve for the run and has been dropped a pound. He’s a good each-way shout.

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Wincanton 13:50 – Bravemansgame

Mick Pastor is fast improving and could well be one for something like the Grand Annual and this trip might just test his stamina but I can’t oppose Bravemansgame. Paul Nicholls hasn’t won this since Modus in 2017 but he did win it five times between 2011 and 2017. Bravemansgame is a Grade 1 winning novice hurdler last season, winning the Challow Hurdle. He was 3rd in the Ballymore and 2nd in the Sefton Novices Hurdle at Aintree when stepped up to 3m.

He beat Fusil Raffles easily on chase debut at Newton Abbot (though was getting 12lbs) but Fusil Raffles didn’t let that form down when a fortunate winner of the Charlie Hall Chase last weekend. Bravemansgame was an impressive winner of his only point to point and he looks like he will make a far better chaser than he was a hurdler.

  • Since this article was published Bravemansgame has been declared a non-runner.

Doncaster 14:05 – Ainsdale

Ainsdale wasn’t disgraced last time when 10th of 20 in the Champions Sprint at Ascot beaten just over 5l and his draw that day was a definite negative. Prior to that he was 4th in the G3 Benbough Stakes at Ascot with Kings Lynn a length ahead of him there (Ainsdale 3lb better off here though).

Kings Lynn is the favourite for this one and Ainsdale is a big price and I don’t think there should be that sort of gap. This flatter track at Doncaster will suit Ainsdale and he sports a first time visor here also. He would look to have a solid each-way chance.

Aintree 14:15 – Mac Tottie

Time To Get Up is very interesting but this trip is short enough for him and surely this is a sighter for the National itself next April. Peter Bowen has two here with Franky Du Berlais in there also but I prefer Mac Tottie. Bowen is no stranger to training winners over the National fences, winning the Topham four times.

Mac Tottie was progressive over fences last season winning twice, at Market Rasen over 2m5f off 118 and at Newbury over just shy of 3m off 127. He finished the season with a good second in a novice handicap chase at Ayr’s Scottish National meeting off 135 over 3m.

The recent Newbury Dublin Four winner was fourth, reopposing Five Star Getaway was seventh, while Pilbara was another subsequent winner behind. Five Star Getaway is a single figure price but Mac Tottie is double that. I don’t really understand that considering the drop in trip is no negative for Mac Tottie either.

Wincanton-Races

Wincanton 14:25 – Kissesforkatie

It shows the regard Kissesforkatie is held in that in November 2019 she went off favourite in a 2m1f Exeter novice hurdle to beat the likes of Sporting John, Harry Senior, Bullionaire and Eritage. She finished 4th that day and was beaten by 7l. She won a maiden hurdle over this course and distance last December on decent ground and think decent ground is a positive for her. The small worry that she might improve for the run here, as she disappointed on her reappearance/handicap debut last season.

Her 2nd start in a handicap was at Wincanton over 2m4f off 125 and she was very unlucky when 3rd beaten just over a length. She was badly squeezed jumping two out and lost ground and momentum, before picking up again and finishing strongly. Think she may well have won but for that interference. She’s up 2lbs for that but if she is fully wound up, she looks a fair bet.

Doncaster 14:40 – Deja

Deja is 5-13 in his career and is a lightly raced six year old. He’s shown very little in four runs this season but they have been in Group and Listed company. He was rated 112 at the beginning of this season and is now only rated 101. He won the Old Newton Cup in July 2020 off 105 and relishes soft ground. The blinkers go on too. He’s a huge price and I wouldn’t be shocked if he ran a big race.

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Wincanton 15:00 – Coup De Pinceau

Coup De Pinceau was useful when trained by Paul Nicholls with his wins coming in a bumper at Ludlow and Ascot on decent ground. He won a maiden hurdle at Musselburgh on decent ground and won novice chases at Exeter and Ludlow on good and soft ground respectively. His record at Wincanton is 2nd in a maiden hurdle over 2m5f and 3rd in the Desert Orchid Silver Cup over 3m2f off 137 in 2019 and 131 last month.

He switched to Nick Mitchell last season and won at Taunton off 131 over 3m4f on soft and was a fair 8th in the Scottish National off 137 with Angus Cheleda riding twice. I would forgive his poor runs in the early summer, as they were at Cartmel and Uttoxeter and he is far better on a flat right handed track.

His two wins in handicaps have come off 130 and 131 and runs here off 130. He is now with Ralph Smith but with Cheleda claiming 7lbs off, he is worth taking a chance on as he is a big price. The danger would be Cap Du Nord who is now 4lb lower than when a decent 3rd in the Sky Bet Chase last February and only 2lb higher than his 2nd to the chucked in Royal Pagaille previous to that at Kempton.

Aintree 15:20 – Martello Sky

Brewinupastorm has a 6lb penalty but the Olly Murphy stable are flying at the moment. Wilde About Oscar has a 2lb penalty but he was disappointing at Aintree in a handicap off 150 when last seen. Summerville Boy won this race last year but I’m taking a chance on Martello Sky.

She is 6-9 in her career with two of those defeats coming at Cheltenham (listed bumper when 5th and the mares novice when 8th). She is 4-5 over hurdles and that defeat in the Mares Novice was mainly due to the trip being on the short side for her, she was staying on well in the closing stages, finishing only 5l behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Skyace.

She is 2-2 when stepped up to this trip, winning easily at Cheltenham from the progressive Sandymount Rose and then hacking up on her handicap debut last month at Market Rasen off 132. She is only rated 141, so has a bit to find but every chance that she can improve again and does get at least 5lbs off the field here and is the only one with a recent run.

Wincanton 15:35 – Sole Pretender

Goshen and Sceau Royal carry 6lb penalties, while Belfast Banter and Sole Pretender carry 4lb penalties. Sceau Royal won this last year and in 2016 but Sole Pretender looks underestimated in the market. It’s his first start since being beaten by 7.5l in the Galway Hurdle off 150. That form is useful though.

Previous to that, Sole Pretender had won the Grade 3 Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary, beating the decent yardstick Darasso by 2l. He was a fair 5th in the Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown, where he just didn’t see out the trip.

He has won six of his 11 starts over hurdles. There is a chance he will go off the front here and he could prove tough to peg back with the ground very much in his favour. Harry Cobden is a good booking too.

Frank Hickey’s best bets:

Aintree 13:08 – Aquila Sky
Doncaster 13:25 – Hafeet Alain
Wincanton 13:50 – Bravemansgame
Doncaster 14:05 – Ainsdale
Aintree 14:15 – Mac Tottie
Wincanton 14:25 – Kissesforkatie
Doncaster 14:40 – Deja
Wincanton 15:00 – Coup De Pinceau
Aintree 15:20 – Martello Sky
Wincanton 15:35 – Sole Pretender

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