We’ve teamed up with BetVictor and Charlie McCann to preview the day’s racing.
An excellent card from Warwick this afternoon and, although I am in danger of following the horse off a cliff, I must give Upepito (1.20) another chance for Venetia Williams in the handicap chase over the minimum trip. The selection ran his best race since moving to the yard from his native France when runner-up at Wincanton on Boxing Day and he is only 1lb higher today.
Nick Williams saddles two in the race and his runners Rio De Sivola and Greywell Boy look the dangers. It could easily be a Williams 1-2-3 but Venetia’s Upepito it is for me.
Few horses have impressed me more than It’s A Steal (1.55) so far this season and he must be followed despite taking a huge step up in grade in the listed novices’ Ccase for Evan Williams. He looked ready for a step up to 3m when scoring at Ludlow in a modest handicap but his jumping has been very good a comment that could not be attributed, thus far, to Deputy Dan and Mosspark who have not scaled the heights expected of either this term. The selection has a tissue price of 7/1 at BetVictor and might be the value in a fascinating heat.
The big betting race of the weekend is the Grand National Trial over 3m 5f. Tales Of Milan couldn’t get the easy lead he wanted at Kempton last time and will find it hard to dominate again with Benbane Head and Carruthers likely to take him on up front.
The Novice Return Spring (3.35) is 5/1 at BetVictor and has been the best backed horse during the week but I always felt there was a big race in Global Power and at 10/1 with BetVictor he can reward each way support. The selection has run well in defeat on both starts this season and can reverse recent Fontwell form with Theatrical Star over this stiffer test. We have three previous winners of the race in the line-up West End Rocker, Rigadin de Beauchene and Shotgun Paddy and it is the latter who is feared most despite top-weight.
There is a terrific Handicap Chase at Wetherby over two miles with top-weight Creepy dropping back to the minimum trip for the first time since his bumper days. Further rain would be a negative but he must run well. Gardefort did us a favour at Ludlow before Xmas but the handicapper has had his say. Firth Of The Clyde would have been the selection but the yard of Malcolm Jefferson could not be described as being in top form and Indian Voyage 8/1 with BetVictor could be the answer.
Trained by Maurice Barnes the seven-year-old has won three of his last four over fences and should have the race run to suit. His young conditional takes off a valuable 5lbs and he is a sporting selection.
Barnes also saddles My Idea later in the card but the vote goes to Vinny Gambini (3.25) having only his second start over fences for Rose Dobbin. The eight-year-old ran well in a couple of points in his native Ireland and should appreciate this step back up in trip having made a promising return at Newcastle in November. He has been dropped 2lbs for that effort and, more importantly, given plenty of time to get over that race.
Whitby Jack won the finale at Kempton two years ago from a 4lb higher mark and is worth noting for a market move returning from a 400-day absence but First Mohican (3.45) was in the process of running a decent race on his handicap debut when falling at the last at Doncaster and he ran well on both starts over C&D as a novice.
At Kempton, Tea For Two could be very well treated in the Lanzarote but marginal preference at 7/1 with BetVictor is Hammersly Lake (2.40) for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty. The selection is 5lbs higher than when finishing runner-up at Newbury at the Hennessy meeting but he suggested this step up in trip would suit and was very well supported on that occasion.
On Sunday, Cappa Bleu (3.40) placed in two Grand Nationals and a winner of the 2009 Foxhunters Chase at the Cheltenham Festival runs in a Hunter Chase at the age of 13 coming back from a 426 day lay-off. Evan Williams wouldn’t have persevered with him if he didn’t think he might have at least one more day in the sun.
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