Fionn Mac Cul should go close at Carlisle

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We’ve teamed up with BetVictor and Charlie McCann to preview the day’s racing.

Silviniaco Conti’s return to form was the weekend’s biggest highlight with Paul Nicholls’ dual King George winner cut to 16/1 (from 25s) with BetVictor for the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree in April after sealing a seventh Group 1 success in the Ascot Chase under Noel Fehily.

The ten-year-old, rated 177 in his peak, would get 2lb from last year’s winner Many Clouds and would surely boast terrific claims if staying the marathon trip over four and a half miles.

Another animal with Group 1 success over three miles is Boston Bob, who was similarly trimmed to 33/1 (from 66s) for Aintree success after beating stablemate On His Own to land the Bobbyjo Chase under Ruby Walsh at Fairyhouse. Connections have always been keen to have a crack at the world’s most famous steeplechase and Willie Mullins’ former Punchestown Gold Cup winner should prove even better on good, spring ground.

Few Aintree clues are on offer this afternoon at Carlisle, although Venetia Williams’ Fionn Mac Cul (2.00) could boast claims in time and must go close in the opener under Aidan Coleman.

The selection runs in the famous silks of owner Trevor Hemmings, winner of the race with Hedgehunter, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds, and this well-bred gelding isn’t likely to be seen in his best light until similarly sent over the larger obstacles but scored impressively at Taunton two starts back and should relish this afternoon’s return to two and a half miles.

The stable must go close with John Louis in the handicap chase over two and a half miles with the eight-year-old in his attempt to give weight and a beating to his four rivals accordingly. He is respected should the market speak in his favour but a chance is taken instead on Abbey Storm (4.10) making his debut for the Micky Hammond stable.

The selection hasn’t been sighted since winning a handicap chase for former handler Donald McCain at Southwell 18 months ago but is chucked-in on the best of his old form and can make a winning debut for his new yard under Brian Harding.

A field of seven head to post for the feature 3m Handicap Chase with Lucinda Russell’s unexposed One For Arthur potentially over-priced if his tissue of 6/1 is indeed accurate.

The seven-year-old has made just four starts over the larger obstacles and is respected under regular partner Peter Buchanan, however preference on this occasion lies with Warrantor (3.05) for the father and son combination of Warren and Tom Greatrex,

The selection relished the step up to three miles when beating subsequent Royal Artillery Gold Cup winner Jenny’s Surprise two starts back at Lingfield, and although unseating last time out at Catterick, remains unexposed and open to much further improvement. The conditional is excellent value for his 7lb claim and can off-set the 6lb rise at the weights for that Lingfield success.

There’s action on the all-weather from both Lingfield and Wolverhampton with Jim Crowley a fascinating jockey booking aboard Tom Dascombe’s Colourfilly (2.20) in the opener at the former. The selection ran an excellent second last time out at Wolverhampton just nine days ago at Wolverhampton and must go close from a 2lb higher mark.

Crowley can double-up Steam Ahead (2.55) in the maiden over an extended six furlongs. Ralph Beckett’s well-bred son of Dream Ahead was well-backed to make a winning debut last month over course and distance and, after bumping into one on the day, should make amends and go one better this afternoon.

There’s a terrific 5f Handicap at Wolverhampton with Mick Easterby’s Hoofalong (4.20) chanced to land the £28,000 first prize under Phillip Makin. The selection has been in tremendous heart throughout the winter, winning competitive handicaps at Chelmsford, and must remain competitive under a 6lb penalty.

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