Well if the weather holds fair we’ll have the rescheduled Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and the William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton to come.
Over in Ireland we will see the Supreme credentials of Min in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle.
Last week there were three selections and The Dutchman was well-backed prior to the off and came home second for our each-way bet advised at 7/1.
The Welsh Grand National has been bought forward so it is ran on the best possible ground but whatever it’ll be a gruelling contest.
The last two winners of the race are in this line-up of 20-runners. Emperor’s Choice won by a short head from Benvolio last year. That was his last run for the season and he made a winning reappearance at Haydock in November. He is now 10lb higher but is in good form and one thing we do know is that he stays. Mountainous won this race in 2013 by a head but that was the last win for the 11-year-old, who looks to be getting a bit long in the tooth. He looks well handicapped on the best of his form but Kerry Lee will need him at his very best to go close here.
There are two I’m looking at here at each-way prices. Firstly, Red Devil Lads for Rebecca Curtis, who has been in fine form of late since stepping up to 3m trips. This son of Beneficial has won three of his last for, with two of them being on heavy ground. He’s looked a stout stayer in his races and the extra trip could help bring out the best in him. He usually likes to get a lead in his races and today he might be ridden slightly differently for an interesting jockey booking in Johnny Burke. The second one is Woodford County, who despite being back up in class with a penalty cannot be easily discounted. He is carrying a relatively low weight and with Ciaran Gethings taking 5lb off helps further. He was seventh in this last year but since has been third in both the Midlands Grand National and the Eider raced over 4m. He showed a likeable attitude last time to win over 3m7f at Exeter on heavy ground, which should put him in good heart here.
Cogry has to be respected considering he relishes a slog in testing ground. He was second last January to Wakanda and that form looks very strong now. He was fourth behind Sausalito Sunrise at Cheltenham on his reappearance, which should set him up for this task. He won a Novice Chase here back in December 2014 on heavy ground and this looks right up his street. Two further strong stayers that shouldn’t be discounted are Shotgun Paddy and Portrait King. The latter was one of my Grand National fancies and he was travelling well before coming to grief three from home. He’s won the Eider Chase over 4m back in 2012. His form of late for his new yard meant he could be starting to look well treated.
Just some advice about the betting – the majority of firms are paying five places, so make sure you take advantage.
Advice: Red Devil Lads (16/1 each-way)
Woodford County (16/1 each-way)
The Lanzarote Hurdle has had some good previous winners and it was the same last year with Tea For Two producing the goods to beat Little Boy Boru.
Unfortunately one of the main protagonists in the race, Harry Fry declared Unowhatimeanharry a non-runner yesterday due to a poor scope.
That leaves us with ten-runners. Looking at the markets then in places there are co-favourites of four. One of that quartet is Yala Enki who has been well-backed throughout yesterday. This six-year-old has only had three starts for Venetia Williams since moving from France. He showed a good level of form on debut only going down by a head and followed that up when making all at Exeter. His fifth in the Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock doesn’t look bad either. Off this mark he could easily threaten, especially with Charlie Deutsch claiming an extra 5lb off and if he goes to the front early he could prove difficult to pass.
However Bivouac remains of interest after coming back to some form at Huntingdon in November. He’s still a lightly campaigned five-year-old and could still have a bit more to offer for this extra trip, which is likely to be the furthest he’ll be seen over. His win at Huntingdon has since been franked by Lil Rockerfeller, who finished third that day – he has since won a Listed race and finished second in a Grade 3 contest.
Ibis Du Rheu is likely to have progressed again since Newbury where he went down by a head. He has kept improving on every start since joining Paul Nicholls. The way he stayed on to finish second at Newbury suggested the extra distance should suit. When in France he was second to Top Notch in a three-year-old Hurdle, which looks half decent form. Western Warrior has Will Kennedy in the saddle and he won this race consecutively in 2011 and 2012 when riding for Nick Williams. Dr Richard Newland’s charge won comfortably in heavy conditions at Lingfield in a modest contest and has only gone up 5lb. He could have plenty more to offer and despite pulling up in the race Yala Enki won at Exeter is probably slightly better at the weights. One for each-way purpose would be Brother Tedd, who beat Silviniaco Conti he in November and has since finished third to the now retired Rock On Ruby. He will cope carrying top weight and can’t be discounted at a double figure price.
Advice: Bivouac (4/1 Win)
A Handicap Chase over 3m with nine-runners set to go to post. Kruzhlinin was second on his last start for Donald McCain 342-days ago when beaten by Dawalan, who himself is now trained in the United States. This nine-year-old is now in the care of Philip Hobbs and he can ready a horse first time out, so the absence shouldn’t be too much of detraction. His last win came in this class at Kelso off this mark when beating No Planning. If finding that sort of form he looks the one they have to beat.
Le Reve can be a frustrating one for Lucy Wadham however his last win came in this class at Sandown in January, therefore he should go well at a fair each-way price despite shouldering the top weight. Since that win he has placed in two Grade 3 races behind Rocky Creek and Just A Par, so he has ran in some good contests. This looks easier than those two runs and he can put his two disappointing runs this season behind him at a track he goes well at.
Two others to note are Seefood, who is having his first start for Dr Richard Newland. He tends to be able to find some improvement from his new recruits and is a shrewd placer. Then the other is Grandads Horse, who has become very well handicapped if in the right sort of mood. His last win came in this class at Doncaster off a 2lb higher mark and could warrant a small stakes cover bet.
Advice: Le Reve (13/2 each-way)