The recent snow and ice have reaped havoc with the National Hunt season but Cheltenham are hopeful of staging their high class Festival Trials Day. There is guaranteed action on the all weather at Lingfield and Wolverhampton to ensure there is racing action regardless of the weather.
Its interesting to see Ryan Moore return to the UK on Saturday amid a stint in Dubai and he has a very good book of rides. I’m expecting at least two or three winners with the pick of them being My Own Way Home who holds outstanding claims.
In the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial both Irish Saint and Rolling Saint look to hold outstanding claims judged on their efforts to date. Though it may be worth siding with Gary Moore’s Knight Of Pleasure who belied odds of 20/1 when beating a Nicholls’ hotpot on his debut. He was mightily impressive that day and a big run is expected here on ground which is likely to be very testing.
My local team Brighton face the biggest match in their recent history with a home game at the AMEX vs a resurgent Arsenal side. It would be fantastic to see the Seagulls clinch victory of their illustrious rivals and the sell-out crowd is unlikely to make it a pleasant trip to the South Coast. Brighton’s style of play looks well suited to the rigors of the Premier League and they most certainly will be challenging for promotion over the next few years.
The Murphy Group Handicap Chase has attracted a quality field of handicappers headed by Poquelin, though he is likely to be aimed at the festival. Bless The Wings and Bold Sir Brian are just two others with strong claims. However, it may be worth taking a risk on the bottom weight Tullamore Dew. Nick Gifford’s eleven year old has slowly been working his way back to form and this 2m 5f trip appears to be his optimal distance. He has been campaigned further over recent years and is well handicapped at this trip. been finishing his races off too well so the first time tongue strap is likely to prove a useful aid. Returning to the form of his festival third over this trip should see him make the frame at least.
The incredible Sprinter Sacre is likely to romp to victory in the rearranged Victor Chandler Chase but cramped odds limit his appeal as a betting medium. Instead an each way bet on William’s Wishes could reap dividends. He is unbeaten over fences and there should be more to come from this improving sort.
Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander finally returns to the racecourse in the Argento Chase at 2-25 but this is a big ask after such a long absence. Paul Nicholls has rejuvenated Tidal Bay and if the Tidal Bay that won the Lexus turns up here there is only one winner of the race. There has been talk of targeting the World Hurdle but if he wins this surely he has to take his chance in the Gold Cup. Expect heart palpitations in running as he is likely to be out of the picture turning into the home straight before rattling home.
Cheltenham Selections: Knight Of Pleasure 12-10, John’s Spirit 12-40, Tullamore Dew 1-15, William’s Wishes 1-50, Tidal Bay 2-25, Whisper 3-00, Reve De Sivola 3-35 and Barbatos 4-10
Lingfield Selections: Tenure 12-20, Rahy’s Promise 12-50, My Own Way Home 1-25, Rich Again 2-00, Maverik 2-35, Mia’s Boy 3-10, Lager Time 3-45 and Ellie In The Pink 4-15
Wolverhampton Selections: Jofranka 1-40, Thunderball 2-15, Crimson Monarch 2-50, Anacoda 3-25, Lieutenant Dan 4-00, Onceuponatime 4-30, Jumbo Prado 5-00 and Salute To Seville 5-30