Horse Racing Tips: Paul Jacobs’ slick value plays on Saturday

PJ is here to give you a steer on the racing action on both sides of the Irish Sea.

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

Paul Jacobs’ Selections

13:30 Naas – Watch House Cross
14:20 Cheltenham – Galahad Quest
14:55 Cheltenham – Sidi Ismael
19:00 Wolverhampton – Hello Zabeel

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13:30 Naas – Watch House Cross

I love these big field intermediate trip handicap hurdles and there are at least 10 horses in this field of 19 that have solid claims with the likes of the returning Chicago Town, the evergreen stayer A Great View (probably wants further), Cash Back and top weight Meet and Greet all worthy of consideration. Bread and Butter was my likely selection earlier in the week, but the recent rain at the Co Kildare track means that the ground could well be slightly softer than he wants.

But I am really keen on the chance of the Henry De Bromhead runner WATCH HOUSE CROSS. I remember him winning his maiden hurdle at Leopardstown just under a year ago and thought afterwards that two and a half miles would always be his best trip. Since then his esteemed handler has sent him chasing and he didn’t really take to those larger obstacles, but the two runs he has had this season should see him spot on from a fitness point of view. A handicap mark of 132 seems very fair and the stable come here in good form. It is also well worth remembering that this will be only be the fourth hurdles run of his campaign and one of those came in a Grade One on only his second start so there can be little doubt that esteem in which he has been held.

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14:20 Cheltenham – Galahad Quest

This renewal of the Paddy Power Gold Cup is hugely top heavy with loads of early pace and there is every chance that this race could badly collapse as it has done on a regular basis as they come around the home turn. That should certainly suit a confirmed hold-up horse like Midnight River. Dan Skelton’s charge has plenty of ability, but is far from being the most consistent and it is worth noting the race he won last time out at Stratford also fell to pieces in front of him and he has to race off a 8lbs higher mark here and in a much better race. Mister Fisher is always to be considered when dropping into handicap company and a mark of 156 despite top weight is a fair offer from the assessor. However, I think he is a much better horse on a flatter track like Kempton Park.

But the two I like in this year’s big field renewal are GALAHAD QUEST and Ga Law. The last named came back from a long lay-off running well above expectations in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree and as long as the dreaded bounce factor doesn’t come into play then he looks sure to play a part with a clear round. I may well have a saver on the Jamie Snowden runner, but off a light weight, last year’s sixth looks the call. The deeper ground that day just pulled his stamina apart in the closing stages and on this slightly quicker surface his hold up style of play makes him a big player and I expect him to be given a similar slow build up into the race before emerging into the picture rounding the home turn.

14:55 Cheltenham – Sidi Ismael

Some old favourites are set to line up for this Pertemps Qualifier and there is little doubt that if former Stayers Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar is back to his best and we get no more rain at the Prestbury Park track then he could be a major factor here off 135 with his young amateur taking 7lbs off his back.

Top weight, On The Blind Side, has a good record around here and if he too retains the majority of his ability at the age of 10, he could make his mark along with the hat-trick seeking Shearer and the versatile Ernesto.

But I have not seen an easier winner over hurdles this season than David Pipe’s charge SIDI ISMAEL when he made his comeback at Worcester last month following a 22-day break when he travelled ever so strongly. Once Tom Scu asked him to put the race to bed, the response was immediate and emphatic and he was able to ease his mount down on the long run to the winning line. The added cream on the cake was that he was only put up 5lbs for that victory and he is in all probability still on the upgrade.

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19:00 Wolverhampton – Hello Zabeel

For a class five sprint this looks a really good race with plenty of depth and from top weight Lihou (possibly better over the minimum trip), Newcastle dead heater Embour and course and distance winner Porfin there are several of these set to play a major part if matters pan out in their favour. However, the selection is one of a few of these with a bit more improvement with only 13 starts under his belts. Yet, the key to his chance is that he has only encountered an all-weather surface on two occasions, firstly when he raced too freely and didn’t last home over seven furlongs at Chelmsford and then last time out with a last gasp victory over Chief and Staff and company back at six furlongs at Southwell three weeks ago.

What was noticeable about that success was that he was held up right out the back of the field and Danny Muscutt bided his time and didn’t panic when the race looked out of reach. Gradually clawing back the deficit, HELLO ZABEEL always looked as though he was going to get there at the furlong pole and I shall be hugely surprised if he is not involved in the finish off only a 2lbs higher mark. The son Frankel has yet to race at the Colwick Park track, but having acted around Southwell I have little doubt that the four-year-old will be effective around here.

Paul Jacobs’ Value Selections

13:30 Naas – Watch House Cross
14:20 Cheltenham – Galahad Quest
14:55 Cheltenham – Sidi Ismael
19:00 Wolverhampton – Hello Zabeel

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