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Well, it’s ten days to go until the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, and that means that, for the most part, the big guns have been put away until the tape goes up on their targeted race at the Cheltenham Festival. That’s not to say we don’t have some quality racing to come over the next week or so, but don’t expect to see many of your favourites taking to the nation’s race courses. But the good thing this week is that there hasn’t been a real shock when it comes to the antepost market for the big Cheltenham races. Now, Drumacoo has been ruled out of the RSA, but there won’t be too many antepost vouchers going into the bin for that one. Any week we can get through with the big names still lining up at the Festival at this stage is always a good thing.
Last week wasn’t too bad for us. We got the winner of the Eider Chase, with Rocking Blues doing the business for us at 8/1. We ended up last week with a profit of +2.67 units. And where does that leave the tips overall so far? We’re now have a profit for the season of +7.11 units. So our bank is building again just in time for the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, which is always nice.
Today, live on Channel Four Racing, the racing coverage comes from just two meetings, those at Newbury and Doncaster. The big race of the day is the Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap from Newbury. Before I get to those free tips for the live races, it’s time, as ever, to promote our favourite bookie in the Sports Betting Tips offices. Over 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 first race of the day is a veterans’ handicap hurdle over 2 miles 4 furlongs, and it’s for horses aged 8 years old or older, so we’re going to be seeing one or two old stars that we’ll have lost money on and won money on over the years, which is always good. The ground at Newbury is soft, which is going to make this a bit of a slog for these veterans.
Rock Gone looked handy enough after a long break, finishing second last time out. However, there is always the risk of the bounce factor when it comes to a situation like that. He’s also gone up another couple of pounds, which isn’t going to help. Sure, he looked good at the end, but the bounce is the worry here.
Howaboutnever has some good form of late, too, but this just seems a bit of a harder task for him, and he might just come up a bit short here, as he looks like he could do with a slightly longer trip, a real test of stamina.
Preference is for Spice Fair who looks well-handicapped, and hasn’t been out of the top three in his last four races over hurdles. Wayne Hutchison on his back is also going to be a big plus for us, and he’s definitely going to handle the ground.
The first race from Doncaster is a 2 mile handicap chase, and like Newbury we’ve got soft ground to contend with here. We also have a small field of six to get to the bottom of, which helps just a little bit.
Pearls Legend has become a stalwart of these races this season, but looks like he’s now just a bit too high up the handicap. He should be there or there about, but will probably just find this weight a bit too much to get the win here.
Yorkist looks exceptionally well-handicapped here, having good results off of 139 this time last year, and now at 134, he’s got a great chance of getting his third win over the larger obstacles.
Astigos looks the danger, but might just prefer a slightly longer trip.
Another race for the veterans here, this time a handicap chase over 3 miles 2 furlongs. This race is for horses ten years of age or older, and there’s a lot of familiar names in this field of 13 going to post.
Aachen has gone well in this Veterans’ Series so far, but is giving the field 9lbs of more and this is going to be a much stiffer test.
Grand National winner Pineau De Re has still shown signs of class in these races, and is off a great mark here. He’s been mixing it up over hurdles and fences to keep him fresh, and this is a winnable mark.
Pete The Feat could be the danger here, but Pineau De Re’s class should come to the fore, even as a 13 year-old.
Next up, it’s a 3 mile handicap hurdle from Doncaster, and it’s actually a decent looking field given the time of the year we’re at.
Zeroshadesofgrey sets a decent standard here in the longer distances hurdle races this season and could be tough to beat. But you know how much I’m loathed to go for the top weights in less than ideal ground when the field is quite competitive.
However, we’re going to take a bit of a chance with the four year-old at the bottom of the handicap, Fingertips who should relish this much longer test of stamina and could be well handicapped given the class shown in France last season. The ground won’t be a problem, either, so there’s a lot of boxes ticked for what we’re hoping is a handicap rick.
Next up at Newbury, the Greatwood Hurdle, which is a handicap over 2 miles, and we’ve got a decent field of 11 going to post in what looks to be a competitive renewal of the race.
Gala Ball sets a pretty decent standard, but on his handicap debut, it’s a bit of a tough race, especially off one of the higher marks in the race. That’s not to say he’s not in with a shout, and Philip Hobbs knows what he’s doing, but it’s not an easy race to win, and I think the handicapper might just have him right.
Boite could be seriously well in here on his return to hurdles, but there is a concern that after not seeing a race course since July (and that was on the flat) that he might just need the run.
Now, the same could be said of the selection, Saint Charles, but he has what could be the form of the day with a second behind Thistlecrack last time out in February 2015. He got within four lengths of the World Hurdle favourite that day at Ascot, but if he can repliacte that, he’ll be come and hosed off what looks like a very, very lenient handicap mark. The Henderson/Geraghty is a potent one, too, and there’s a lot to like about this horse on his handicap debut.
The penultimate race from Doncaster is a Mares’ Novice Hurdle, and we’ve got 8 runners going to post in this 3 mile race, which will be a real test of their stamina.
Yes I Did sets a good standard coming into this, and will relish the trip. She’s beat a couple of classy sorts the last two times out, although the win over William of Orange came with a 12lb allowance. But she was expected to win, she won well and then followed it up at Catterick with another comfortable win.
The Organist also has good form in the book, but there is the worry that this trip is unknown for her. She may relish it, but she might not, and the price she’s going to go off at will be plenty short enough to put us off with such a huge unknown.
Hollies Pearl has bumped into a couple of smart ones in her last two races, and this is a first test over the trip for her, like The Organist. However, unlike The Organist, she will have a bit more value with this unknown hanging over her. Still, it’s enough to put me off.
The winner here should be Yes I Did, as she’s got great form in the book, she’ll see out the trip, leaving us with no real questions over how she’ll cope with this race.
Newbury’s feature race, the Greatwood Gold Cup, is a Grade 3 handicap chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs, and a field of 14 have been declared in what looks to be a tough race to work out.
Sametgal, on his handicap debut for Paul Nicholls, could be a real threat here, and might just be the blot on the handicap here. He’s met a couple of good ones, specifically More of That, and should have won at Newbury in November, when hampered and unseating Sam Twiston-Davies. His rating has gone down a couple of pounds for his handicap debut, and it looks a winnable mark. However, there’s one at a much bigger price that really catches the eye.
Vicomte Du Seuil each-ay has made the trip over from France, and we don’t see much at all of French trainer Emmanuel Clayeux on British shores. He’s a real unknown quantity here, and will be going off at what should be a bit too big a price, on what looks to be a generous handicap mark. This is more of a value play, as it’s a tough race to get to the bottom of with any real confidence.
The final live race on Channel Four Racing for the day, and it’s a 3 mile 1 furlong handicap chase, with a few familiar names in this eight-runner field.
We all know what The Druid’s Nephew can do and has done, but the wheels look to have come off this season, beaten by a distance both times out this season. He’s sat at the top of this handicap, and with his form on the decline, he’s one to avoid.
Drop Out Joe comes in on the back of two wins, but he’s sky-rocketed up the handicap and this mark doesn’t look too good for him today.
The Last Samurai will go off a worth favourite here, and rightly so. He’ll relish the trip and will see it out no problem. However, the handicap mark has been rising and rising, and his last win, the form hasn’t work out spectacularly well.
Sego Success is the selection for me. He’s coming down the handicap, has some good form at Doncaster, having won here two runs previous, and is coming from Alan King’s quality stable. It’s a tough race to win, for sure, but he’s off a nice mark and that’s the main thing.