We’ve teamed up with BetVictor and Charlie McCann to preview the day’s racing.
A wet and windy day forecast at Wincanton and an excellent novices’ limited handicap chase despite only five going to post. We now know that Crookstown (2.10) faced a near impossible task against Stellar Notion when coming down at the last at Leicester back in November but he would have given the winner a race had he not come down at the last and a 5lbs rise looks fair.
Minella Definitely has been raised 10lbs for scoring over C&D on Boxing Day and it is possible the handicapper hasn’t yet got his measure but Ben Case has his string in great form and Crookstown gets the nod in a good contest.
Paul Nicholls fits cheekpieces on the lightly-raced Atlantic Roller (1.10) for the first time and he can run off the same mark as when third over C&D returning from a long lay-off earlier in the month. Shoegazer might be saddled with 11st 12lbs but he ran well for a long time on his reappearance at Chepstow for David Pipe and should be worth noted in the betting.
Harristown had a very tough task against subsequent Cheltenham winner Lightentertainment at Lingfield last month and must go close but Paul Nicholls saddles two in the Paul Nicholls Racing Club Handicap Hurdle and I think the Champion trainer can win his own race.
Stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies rides Rothman who kept on well when not given a hard race at Taunton last time but marginal preference is for the Earthmoves (3.40) in the colours of the great former chaser/Hunter Earthmover. The selection is closely weighted with Blue Buttons on their C&D running earlier in the month but after only five career starts Earthmoves is entitled to improve for that effort and Nick Schofield retains the ride.
The race may have come too soon for Newton Thistle last time and he can return to winning ways in the handicap chase at Towcester for the excellent Ben Pauling. The selection disappointed despite finishing runner up over C&D last time behind Jolly Boys Outing who re-opposes on 2lbs worse terms. Take The Mick will be all the rage following his Warwick win last week but on this ground it might be hard to back up that performance especially with the burden of 12st 2lbs.
At Thurles, Our Katie (2.05) meets nothing of the calibre of her recent conqueror Vroum Vroum Mag in the Mares’ Beginners Chase and she deserves to get her head in front for Garrett Ahern after a series of consistent efforts.
Totally Dominant is likely to go off a warm order in the Maiden Hurdle for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh but the giant Arctic Skipper (2.35) is potentially very useful and could cause an upset. A big stamp of a horse he will jump a fence in time and get further than today’s minimum trip, but his second in a Limerick Bumper last spring showed he was no slouch and he can reward each way support.
At Meydan, there is a terrific Group 2 over 1m 1f on turf with last year’s Dubai Duty Free runner up Vercingetorix having his first start in this year’s Carnival. Trained by Mike De Kock the six-year-old is clearly top class but he might be vulnerable first time out and True Story (5.40) looked a reformed character on his first start since being gelded when scoring three weeks ago and must be followed.
The runner up to True Story on that occasion (Mushreq) wouldn’t be in the same class as stablemate Vercingetorix but the Godolphin runner gets the vote in the turf race of the Carnival to date.
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