We’ve teamed up with BetVictor to preview the day’s racing.
The big betting race of the weekend is the wonderfully named Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle - formerly the Ladbroke Hurdle - and it looks a top-class renewal of his prestigious and valuable handicap at Ascot.
I remember Meet The Legend (3.35) winning his bumper first time out for Keith Dalgleish at Kelso last September in the manner of a very smart horse, and I just feel he could be leniently treated for his handicap debut.
Now with the excellent Dan Skelton the five-year-old is likely to get further in time, but is sure to get the fast-run race he needs at the minimum trip of two miles and at 7/1 with BetVictor he can reward each-way support.
Irish challenger Golden Spear (6/1 favourite at BetVictor) sneaks into the race at the foot of the weights and is a massive danger for Tony Martin whose British raiders are always respected. The gelding was last seen on the level winning the Irish November Handicap (1m 7f) at Leopardstown and is a most progressive performer under both codes.
The JLT Long Walk Hurdle is the Grade 1 contest and Richard Johnson takes over from the side-lined Ryan Hatch aboard Ballyoptic and I hope to see the champion jockey give the Aintree Grade 1 winner a more positive ride than has been the case in his last couple of starts.
That said it is hard to oppose his Newbury conqueror Unowhatimeanharry (2.25) who has won all six starts since moving to Harry Fry and was a 6l winner of Newbury’s Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle (Ballyoptic runner up) on his reappearance.
The selection is 11/8 at BetVictor and may have most to fear from French raider Alex De Larredya although he might be better served on softer ground.
The listed 3m Silver Cup Handicap Chase is a hot contest and my two against the field are Fletchers Flyer (12/1 at BetVictor) and Minella Daddy (8/1) and the latter just gets the vote having won so well over C&D, albeit from an 11lbs lower mark last time.
The selection is unbeaten in two starts over the larger obstacles which also coincides with the application of blinkers; he jumped out to the right when scoring at Ffos Las in October and he was a fluent winner switched to a clockwise track last time.
There is a good card at Haydock and Aintree, Grade 1 winning hurdler Buveur D’Air makes his chase debut and the 8lbs he receives from the progressive grey Cloudy Dream (12.20) is a huge help. But I believe the Nicky Henderson five-year-old will need further than today’s 2m trip over fences and he is reluctantly overlooked.
I am a big fan of the Malcolm Jefferson trained Cloudy Dream, unbeaten in two starts over fences, although preference is only marginal. Make no mistake they are two novices who could go the very top of the fencing tree but the experience of Cloudy Dream may be the key.
Colin’s Sister (2.05) has been a revelation so far this season and she can land her hat-trick in the Mares’ Novices Hurdle for Colin Tizzard and Paddy Brennan who have such happy memories of Haydock, having teamed up with Cue Card to win the Betfair Chase here last month.
The Tommy Whittle is a tricky puzzle and I am going to take a chance on Corrin Wood (2.40) who reverts to the larger obstacles having run a couple of sound races over timber since making the switch to the Skelton yard.
The nine-year-old is extremely well handicapped on his best chase form and the hope is that his confidence has been restored after those encouraging efforts over the smaller obstacles.
At Newcastle, Battle Of Shiloh has been raised 10lbs for winning at Uttoxeter last time and he might have to give best to Derrintogher Bliss (12.35) who finished runner up at Bangor on his reappearance when trying to give a stone to the winner.
The handicapper has raised the Kim Bailey horse a couple of pounds but he still he receives 6lbs from Battle Of Shiloh and that could prove decisive.
As well as saddling Battle Of Shiloh trainer Tom George is also represented by Bun Doran (2.55) who is a real chasing type and looked sure to come on for his seasonal debut when third at Uttoxeter last month.
A winner over hurdles, of a bumper and a point-to-point the five-year-old is entitled to come on for that chase debut under rules and is a horse with some potential. Final Assault and last year’s winner Bernadelli are big dangers in what promises to be a most informative contest.
The exciting Death Duty is likely to be all the rage for the Navan Novice Hurdle on Sunday but I think Henry De Bromhead’s Monalee (12.45) will give him a race. The selection had decent bumper form but looked something out of the top draw when winning cosily at Punchestown on his first start over hurdles last month.
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