FABULOUS racing on Saturday. The Breeders’ Cup will take centre stage this evening but before that there is some serious National Hunt fare at Wetherby, Ascot, Down Royal and Ayr. There will be Cheltenham Festival clues aplenty, even at this early stage of the season. So here are a few fancies…
MENDIP EXPRESS (12.45 Wetherby): A prolific point-to-point winner, there is plenty of confidence that this seven-year-old can make a winning debut over fences.
HARRY TOPPER (Charlie Hall Chase): I can vouch for the fact that Wetherby had a shed load of rain on Friday. But will it be soft enough for this fellow? He needs it very soft and I suspect he might get it. The race could become attritional and as long as his jumping holds up he could get the better of Long Run, who prefers better ground.
ARDLUI (4.05 Wetherby): Alan King and Choc Thornton are on fire. Three winners on Friday and they could have another good day on Saturday. Ardlui will like the ground, stays really well and may have that bit of class to defy the weight.
BLESS THE WINGS (United House Gold Cup): Another King horse. I can’t believe he is as high as 16/1. Wayne Hutchinson gets a good tune out of this boy and, crucially, he usually runs well at this time of year. He is stepping up in trip but as long as the ground doesn’t turn very soft he could run a huge race at a very big price.
ZAMDY MAN (Ascot 3.50): Highly tried as a juvenile, this looks a perfect opportunity to break his duck over hurdles.
GREEN FLAG: (2.35 Ayr): I love this horse. He made a winning debut over fences and the 4lb he gets from Sivola De Sivola could prove crucial
FRIDAY REVIEW: It was the perfect weather for ducks at Wetherby on Friday, but although the downpour had an impact on the attendance, it was worth turning up to witness a couple of potential Cheltenham Festival contenders emerge. Oscar Rock and Royal Irish Hussar won with a ton in hand. The former was a bit keen early on and fluffed his lines at the last, but he has a serious engine. One to take from the race was Sue Smith’s Straidnahanna who traded blows with the winner before fading in the straight. He looks sure to pay his way, especially when sent over fences. Rally got the job done well in the other division of the 2m 4f novice hurdle but Vivaldi Collonges is worth following. He travelled into the race with ease until tiring in the final two furlongs. Royal Irish Hussar made a quality field look ordinary although there was a promising debut from Zamoyski, who looks certain to pay his way.
This column had an excellent day, highlighting both CENTASIA and CARRAIG MOR, who won at Uttoxeter. Carraig Mor crushed the opposition and looks a fine prospect.