In all honesty it’s a quiet Saturday. Four meetings in Britain plus flat action from Cork but nothing major in terms of the previous few weeks.
March was quite a successful month all in all and last week continued the run. Gabrial (16/1) won the Lincoln at Doncaster and Tamarkuz (13/8) won at Meydan to make it two winners with a couple of placed runners.
This is the first write up for April, so let’s hope the winners continue streaming in like they have done.
A left-field selection to start as Native Que (14/1 each-way) is an interesting contender in this seven-runner Handicap Chase. Jim Dreaper has a 33% strike rate in UK chase races this season (one from three) and that would have been Goonyella winning the Midlands National. In the last 14 days he has had two winners from three runners suggesting the yard is in good form. He is a shrewd operator and putting his horse in this race indicates he is hoping for a place at the minimum. Native Que won a point-to-point race at Kinsale Racecourse over 3m so this 2m4f shouldn’t be a worry. He should be better for his disappointing run 16 days ago and looks worthy a each-way claims. Tango De Juilley has only won over 2m while Barafundle won over 3m at Uttoxeter but needed a lot of persuading from Richard Johnson that day and both look vulnerable at the top of the market.
3:00 Newton Abbot
Grey Gold (7/2) can give Richard Lee’s stable another winner after having two from his last three. He was second last time out to Sire De Grugy who used it as a prep race ahead of the Champion Chase and the Moore horse looked impressive. Following three races without winning he has been dropped back to 148, the mark he last won off at Chepstow in October, which gives him the appeal for this race despite giving quite a bit of weight away to a few of his rivals. The rain will have helped his chances as he will prefer softer ground, which has seen the ten-year-old thrive. Another positive would be that he goes best left-handed as he does today. Going Concern is the main danger after winning over course and distance in September. He is a progressive eight-year-old who has gone up 10lbs for winning by under a length last time out. Starkie was second on his British racecourse debut after moving from Henry De Bromhead’s yard in Ireland. He could build on his second at Sandown and is one to watch for market support.
Virak (9/2) makes his handicap debut and for me may take some beating. He took a hat-trick of wins over fences, which took him to a similar mark as his hurdling days, and he looks better for the bigger obstacles. He disappointed last time out at Ascot but was previously beaten in the Kauto Star Novices Chase at Kempton by Gold Cup winner Coneygree. For those consecutive thirds his mark has dropped to 144 making it more manageable for this plus Sean Bowen is a useful 5lb claimer. The conditions look perfect for this Grade 2 winner to go well here. King Of The Wolds won over further last time out and is the obvious danger to go well again while last year’s winner No Planning could be dangerous again with 3lb claimer Jonathan England on-board and should be suited by the conditions if more rain were to fall. Astigos is one that consistently makes the frame without winning too often but off the bottom of the weights could be another one to watch to see if he gets support in the market.
Snapping Turtle (6/1) is a consistent type and has won over further than the 3m1f trip. Last time out at Sedgefield he nearly made every yard of the 3m3f trip, to beat off seven opponents, on ground that will be similar at the Cumbria venue. A 5lb rise wouldn’t put me off for that three-and-a-half lengths victory as he looks able to repeat the performance here. A win and a second in December followed by a second in January have suggested he has turned a corner and shouldn’t mind the Carlisle track after winning going right-handed at Musselburgh. The only slight concern would be that Dougie Costello gets the ride for the first time but he is a useful jockey and it is only a small concern as Callum Whillans has ridden him on all but one occasion. The dangers come in terms of Vice Et Vertu, who was travelling well before falling last time out and his pedigree suggests he is a stayer and Quel Elite has 3lb claimer Tony Kelly on board who was victorious on him in December over this distance at Wetherby.
On Tuesday or Wednesday I’ll be previewing the Grand National (subtle hint below), which is only a week away, so again watch this space!