If you had turned up last week looking for our free horse racing tips, my apologies, but I have to admit that I was burnt-out from the hectic Cheltenham Festival, so it was good to take some time off to recharge the batteries and get ready for the Grand National Festival at Aintree, which is always a fun way to end the National Hunt season. Although if traditional holds and my wife picks the National winner yet again and I don’t, it won’t be such a happy end to it. Now, hopefully you enjoy the Cheltenham Festival, and the spectacle of it, with outstanding performances from the likes of Sprinter Sacre, Vautour, Douvan, and, of course, the Gold Cup-winning Don Cossack, but it’s great that it’s only four days of the year, as my nerves can’t cope.
Last time out, things didn’t quite go to plan, and with Seebright being a non-runner, that was our only consolation, which gave us a loss of -5 units. That means the free horse racing tips have a loss of -5.89 units. Not the best way to get to the end of the National Hunt season, but with the real flat racing season on the horizon, let’s hope that things are on the turn, with the Lincoln taking centre stage at Doncaster tomorrow, the traditional way to kick-off things on the turf. We also head to Newbury and Kempton for action, but the big meeting of the day comes from wonderful Donny. Remember, the racing coverage shifts from Channel 4 to More 4 midway through the coverage thanks to the Formula 1 from Bahrain, so don’t get caught out.
With the bookies taking a hammering over Cheltenham, allegedly, we’ll try and hit them hard this week, too, so head on over to our friends at Bet365, they will give you the best price on every horse race shown live on Channel Four if you back it from 10am on the day of the race. That means you should wait until 10am Saturday and get the best price, as they will match their competitors. What could be better than best prices? Well, if you back a winner at 4/1 or more at Bet365 on any of the Channel Four races, you get a free bet that matches your stake on the winner for the next Channel Four race.
The Spring Mile handicap is a great way for the bookies to start the flat racing season live on Channel Four, as we have 22 runners going to post. Great, isn’t it?
Higher draws have been more favourable in recent years, and those near the top of the handicap tend to perform well, bucking the natural instinct to think that those horses with a lighter weight should go better at this stage in the season. Of course, it’s hard to judge how these runners are going to perform, but we’ll go our best.
Keystroke looks handy near the top of the handicap, and has had the benefit of a run on the all-weather back in March, but there is a huge 5lb penalty that isn’t offset by a claimer. He should go well, given his decent draw in stall 13, but the penalty might just scupper his bid for the Spring Mile win.
Right Touch has some good form coming into this, and with Adam McNamara taking 7lbs off, it should be a big help. However, I don’t like the draw, and the inexperience of McNamara won’t help things, either, given how much of a tactical race this is going to be.
Preference is for William Haggas to continue where he finished off last season with another race win, this time with Predominance. The four-year-old is unexposed, has a very nice draw and coming from such a strong yard should be good to go for this big handicap.
Our first trip to the all-weather of Kempton today, and we have 7 furlong handicap to get stuck into. While it’s not quite the class of the Spring Handicap preceding this, it’s not a bad little race with 10 runners declared.
Shyron has had some success of late on the all-weather, albeit at Lingfield. If he takes to the Kempton track, he should go well. However, I never like going for runners that haven’t gone on a track before against runners with more experience, so we’ll give Shyron a miss. He could go well, but it’s a different game altogether at Kempton to Lingfield, and success doesn’t always translate.
Solar Flair is the tentative selection in what is a bit of a tricky race. There’s good form on the all-weather, and he has got experience at Kempton, although it was his first race. It’s not a race to be enthused about, but Solar Flare might be a class above when it comes to all-weather racing compared to the rest of the field.
The feature race of the day is the Lincoln, 1 mile, 22 runners and a handicap that is a nightmare to work out.
This big race tends to go to the younger horses, with most of the winners of late coming in at 6 years old or younger. We should, again, be looking at the higher draws, and a nice low weight helps, unlike in the Spring Handicap. Richard Fahey is also a strong performer here, so we have to give his runners a glance.
Mutarakez appeals quite a bit on draw, and weight, and has gone well on the track before. The one concern is that he struggled off the mark of 101 last time out in another big-field handicap. I think he should give a good account, and goes well fresh, but others appeal slightly more.
Udododontu for Saeed bin Suroor is another one coming into this in good from, having shown real promise in Meydan. However, it’s that trip to Meydan that conerns me. His last race was in February, so he’ll have travelled back from Dubai for this race, and that tends to take it out of a horse. It’s worthwhile seeing how Godolphin’s other horses go after coming back from abroad before we start to look at them in these hot races. The same, of course, applies to Secret Brief.
You’re Fired really appeals, especially as he’s not gone up in the handicap after his win over Storm Rock two starts ago. He found the Listed company too hot last time, but this is a much more manageable task. He’s carrying a couple of pounds more than we would have liked for the trends, but his draw is good, and his course form is also decent. Yes, we’ll need a bit of luck in running, but if it goes to plan, You’re Fired will get our flat season off to a great start.
The first races from Newbury live on Channel Four Racing (on More 4), and it’s a handicap chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs. But, you know what, this isn’t a great race. It really feels like a filler between the big flat races. There’s very little in the way of true class, but Morning Reggie has decent form, and although he only has 2 wins to his name, he’s come up against some useful sorts in the past, and beat the handy Minella Reception at Sandown last time out.
It’s not a race to get excited about, but then that will come at the Aintree Festival next week!
Next up from Doncaster, a smaller handicap, this time just the 14 runner are declared for this 6 furlong Listed handicap.
Jack Dexter won the Wentworth over course and distance last time out, and has only gone up 1lb for that victory. That’s quite generous given how hot a race it was. Yes, he might like the ground a bit heavier, but the fact that it’s already soft going at Doncaster gives us hope that it should be fine for him.
Move In Time is stepping back up to 6 furlongs after a long spell at 5 furlongs. He’s had a course and distance victory, but it was off a far more lenient mark, and he’s been punished for having a lot of big race experience. If he enjoys the step back up in trip, he might be hard to stop.
Gracious John has a 50% strike rate on the turf, and might go well, but as a three year-old competing against the big boys, he might just struggle a bit here. However, he’s one to watch if he’s going for some big handicaps this season.
The Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Final from Newbury, and although it’s not as glamorous as its Cheltenham counterpart, it’s actually quite a hot race, and we have 13 declared runners, most of which have some good form in the bag.
Briery Queen has good form in the book, but lacks that consistency to make her a confident selection. Her jumping is also questionable, and she seems to clatter a few going round. Against a classy field like this, she might not get away with those kinds of mistakes.
Rene’s Girl is the one to watch here, and although she disappointed at odds-on last time out, the trip looked a bit too short for her. The form of her last win looks good, with fourth-placed Morning Herald going on to win next time out by around by 15 lengths. She might just take some beating, especially if they go at a decent clip, and she can settle in and hunt the leaders down.
The Doncaster Mile is up next, and there’s no handicap to pick apart, it’s just down to class and form for this 1 mile Listed race.
Custom Cut sets a high standard, with good performances at the top level, but he underperformed on his only run at Doncaster two years ago. That’s not to say he’s not come on, which he has, but it’s a slight negative to go along with his age – at seven years old, he might just find the younger horses have that perk in their step, especially first time out.
Belardo was a real springer in the Champions Mile last time out at Ascot towards the end of last year, and almost caused a shocked, getting within a length of Solow. It’s hard to read into that, however, given that he wasn’t expected to put up much of a fight. However, if he’s trained on, that form looks hard to top, given how good Solow is, and that should be more than enough to take this Listed prize over what looks essentially to be quite a weak field, bar Custom Cut.
Our second and final race on from Kempton’s all-weather track is a Listed fillies’ stakes over 1 mile, with 9 runners declared.
Volunteer Point is the form filly of the race, and has a great record on the all-weather. However, most of her form has come at Lingfield, and that Kempton question mark rears its ugly head again.
Redstart leads the way on ratings, and is 1 win from 1 race at Kempton, and although she came home near the rear of the field in the 1,000 Guineas, this race is far more attainable for a nice-looking filly like Redstart.
My Call might appreciate the step up in trip, and if she takes to the Kempton surface she might give Redstart the most problems, as this unexposed Godolphin filly showed a little bit of potential over 6 furlongs last year.
The last race of the day is the Brocklesby, a 5 furlong conditions stakes for two-year-olds, so we have nothing really to go on for form, which, at this time of the year, is no surprise. All we have to guide us is breeding, the quality of the stable, and also market support.
Create A Dream has a lot of early support, with Wesley Ward looking towards Royal Ascot should she go well here. The booking of Frankie is also likely to draw support, but I think she’ll go off plenty short enough, and doesn’t appeal enough to be backing at relatively short prices.
Mark Johnston’s two-year-olds are flying, and The Last Lion does have some appeal, but if the draw plays it part again, the low draw might not be as advantageous.
Instead, we’ll go with Bill Turner to add to his 40% strike rate over the last ten years in this race with Crucial Moment who could have a nice draw in stall 10. Ryan While’s 5lb claim is also a big help, negating the fillies’ allowance that Create A Dream is going to have.