We’ve teamed up with BetVictor and Charlie McCann to preview the day’s racing.
Wednesday saw Newcastle lose its battle with the elements, however all four National Hunt meetings look to be given the green light for an excellent day of jump racing action today, Thursday.
The afternoon’s feature comes from Thurles with Don Cossack and Champagne Fever meeting in an excellent renewal of the G2 Kinlock Brae Chase over two and a half miles.
Willie Mullins’ 8-y-o should be suited by the drop back in trip after failing to stay three miles in the King George at Kempton however Don Cossack (2.45) can give his rival 2lb and a beating and make it 4/4 for the season under excellent pilot Bryan Cooper. Gordon Elliot’s monumental chaser has improved with every run this term and looked to be better than ever when beating the pair of Boston Bob and Lord Windemere last time out in the G1 John Durkan last time out at Punchestown. The selection will likely use this race to set him up for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and is 7/1 with BetVictor to land his trainer further festival success.
The best of the domestic action comes from Ludlow where Midnight Belle (3.00) can shed the maiden tag over fences in the Mares’ Novices’ Chase over two and a half miles. The selection was unfortunate to bump into a well-handicapped animal of Fergal O’Brien last time out at Exeter however remains in excellent nick and is taken to get the better of Donald McCain’s Doyly Carte and Chris Down’s Loyaute.
Rhum won a dramatic renewal of last year’s Prince of Wales Challenge Trophy when both Shalamar Fromentro and Rydalis threw the race away in the closing stages however Royal Palladium (1.55) can make amends for Venetia Williams chasing the four-timer. The 7-y-o has been a revelation since sent over the larger obstacles winning his three starts over fences by an accumulative 32 lengths. The handicapper has put him up 24lb in the weights but he still looks well-treated and can maintain his unblemished record over fences under champion amateur Will Biddick.
Alan King’s Monksgold looks a likely warm favourite for the Maiden Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles however he remains a maiden after seven starts under rules and a chance is taken on Scorpiancer (3.30) for Rebecca Curtis and Paul Moloney. The selection is having just his third start under rules after making a winning debut in a point-to-point in his native Ireland and looks the ideal type to continue progressing. The well-bred son of Scorpion chased home subsequent winner Rock the Kasbah on his debut at Ffos Las before being out-classed on his last start up in trip at Ascot but can bounce back and make it third time lucky in a first-time tongue tie.
The pair can land the spoils in the mares’ handicap hurdle on the card with Ballyhollow (2.25) stepping up in trip to tackle three miles for the very first time. The 6-y-o ran a blinder last time out when chasing home Henry Daly’s Tara Mist, a full-sister to connections’ 140-rated mare Mickie, and the daughter of Beat Hollow looks every inch a staying chaser in the making. She should relish both the three miles, and the forecast soft ground, and can shed the maiden tag over timber at the belated fourth attempt.
Wincanton needs to pass a late inspection to go ahead however Market Rasen should be fine and Venetia Williams can celebrate an across-the-card double with Kingcora (3.20) giving weight and a beating to his five rivals in the feature handicap chase. Callum Whillans takes off an invaluable 5lb and partnered the selection to his sole career success when scoring at Bangor last term. The French import has failed to get his head in front in three starts this term however has come down 4lb for those efforts and should be stripped fitter for those runs and can bounce back for a yard that thrives in this sphere.